It’s a clear-cut case of double identity theft.
What we’re dealing with here are two teams who have somehow managed to end up with each other’s records.
It was unanimous among pre-season pigskin prognosticators that the Toronto Argos were going to be just a terrible team again this year.
Maybe something like, oh, say, 1-4 at this stage.
There were those figuring they might even have trouble matching last year’s 3-15 record.
Five weeks into the season and they have that covered.
There was also general agreement going into to the season that the Edmonton Eskimos were ready to return to being a reach-for-the-top team again with a chance to play host to their first playoff game since 2004.
They figured to be no worse than, oh, say 3-2 by this stage of the season.
If Edmonton doesn’t win this game, there’s reason to start to think the unthinkable.
Are you ready for an Eastern crossover team in the Western Conference playoffs?
The Eskimos and B.C. Lions are both 1-4.
The only teams they’ve managed to beat are each other.
The Western Conference teams are only 5-5 against teams from the Eastern Conference this year because Edmonton lost to Montreal and Winnipeg and B.C. lost to Montreal and Toronto.
If this continues, there might be — for the first time in history — an Eastern team coming West to play a crossover game in either Calgary or Saskatchewan in the Western semi-final.
It’s these damn Argos.
They’re taking away the security blanket of a crossover playoff game which the Eskimos and Lions both used to make it to an Eastern Final in the last two years as fourth-place teams in the West.
Forget the Eskimos. It takes more than one team to mess up this cozy crossover arrangement the West teams have had going here lately.
But what’s the deal with the Argos?
They’re not awful!
Why in the name of Leo H. Cahill are they not awful?
“We didn’t talk about the past,” said new head coach Jim Barker, who spent the last six seasons in the Calgary Stampeders organization.
“All we’ve talked about from the start of the season is about being better tomorrow than today. If we were 5-0 or 0-5 we decided that’s how we were going to handle this season and we’re not going to change that approach.”
With the southern Ontario franchises in Toronto and Hamilton the weak links in the league, Barker thinks the interlocking games between East and West are more than meaningful for those two failing franchises.
“Each of those games has increased importance,” Barker maintains.
“It was important for us to go to Calgary at the start of the season and win that game. Nobody expected us to win that game. But our guys went there believing we could win it.”
They didn’t. But they returned home and beat Calgary and B.C. in Toronto to end a 13-game losing streak against Western Conference clubs. They still have an nine-game away losing streak going against teams from the West which they carry into this game.
After losing 41-10 in Montreal last week the Argos need to win this game to not go back to being the Argos again.
The Eskimos need it to not send coach Richie Hall back to coaching from the edge of the cliff again and to provide them some confidence to take forward to their five game run – in Calgary Aug. 15, at home against Saskatchewan Aug. 28, in Calgary Sept. 6, at home against Calgary Sept. 10 and then in Montreal Sept. 19 – before they play the Argos again in Moncton on Sept. 26.
“The Eskimos are going to come out and play this game with a lot of energy. We have to match that. They showed in that last game that they truly love their coach. That’s a great thing. Hopefully this game our guys will show they love their coach,” said Barker, upgrading a quote he had earlier this week.
If the Argos dump a container full of Gatorade on their coach after this game, it won’t be just a bad thing for the Eskimos, but for the Western Conference overall.