CFL Blitz: Exciting stretch run shaping up in CFL

The Argonauts' playoff hopes rest on the health of quarterback Ricky Ray. (MICHAEL PEAKE/QMI Agency...

The Argonauts' playoff hopes rest on the health of quarterback Ricky Ray. (MICHAEL PEAKE/QMI Agency file photo)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:08 AM ET

The best part of the CFL season is the finish, but the race to the line might not rival last year.

Certainly, the final weekend of the 2011 season was a historic one, as both division titles and five playoff spots were decided.

With three weeks to go in 2012, the division races are basically over (barring something crazy happening), but there is no doubt some intriguing questions need to be decided.

All eight teams are still in the hunt for playoff spots, and all of them could conceivably host games, too, as crazy as that sounds. So here is how each team is shaping up down the stretch.

EAST DIVISION

Montreal Alouettes (9-6)

Schedule: At Ssk., vs. Edm, at Win. -- Win percentage of opponents: .422. Record vs. opponents: 4-1.

Storyline down the stretch: Only one win locks up the division title, so the Als shouldn't gag it away like they did last year. The offence has taken some major hits in the injury department over recent weeks. With S.J. Green and Brandon Whitaker already out, the Als lost Brandon London and Victor Anderson this week.

Toronto Argonauts (7-8)

Schedule: Vs. Win, at Ssk, vs. Ham. -- Win percentage of opponents: .378. Record vs. opponents: 4-2.

Storyline down the stretch: If Ricky Ray doesn't return soon, the Argos are in danger of giving away their second-place seeding. This is a turtle derby, and the Argos need just one more win to secure a home date, but they haven't looked good over recent weeks without their No. 1 pivot.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats (5-10)

Schedule: At Cal, vs. Win, at Tor. -- Win percentage of opponents: .444. Record vs. opponents: 1-5.

Storyline down the stretch: What a disappointing year in Tigertown. Henry Burris has put up great numbers this year, but this is the first time he's in danger of missing the post-season since 2000. If the defence doesn't step up in the final month, they could cost co-ordinator Casey Creehan his job.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers (4-11)

Schedule: At Tor, at Ham, vs. Mtl. -- Win percentage of opponents: .467. Record vs. opponents: 1-6.

Storyline down the stretch: Clearly they are holding onto faint hope, but if Buck Pierce returns to action and plays well, it further muddies their off-season. Once a new regime takes over, they have to decide whether they want to continue with the often-injured pivot.

WEST DIVISION

B.C. Lions (11-4)

Schedule: Vs. Edm, at Cal, Vs Ssk. -- Win percentage of opponents: .533. Record vs. opponents: 4-3.

Storyline down the stretch: How many receivers can they lose before it starts to hurt Travis Lulay's production? With Geroy Simon and Arland Bruce already down, Marco Iannuzzi joined them last week. Depth is being tested there.

Calgary Stampeders (9-6)

Schedule: Vs. Ham, vs. B.C., at Edm. -- Win percentage of opponents: .511. Record vs. opponents: 4-2.

Storyline down the stretch: When, or maybe if, quarterback Drew Tate makes another start is the big question. This team is also getting hit by injuries, as Canadian receiver Johnny Forzani is likely done for the year now.

Saskatchewan Roughriders (8-7)

Schedule: Vs. Mtl, vs. Tor, at B.C. -- Win percentage of opponents: .600. Record vs. opponents: 3-2

Storyline down the stretch: The defence was on quite a roll until they stumbled in Edmonton, so will that be the last off-day they have this season? Heading into that matchup, they were the hottest team in the CFL on both sides of the ball.

Edmonton Eskimos (7-8)

Schedule: At B.C., at Mtl, vs. Cal. -- Win percentage of opponents: .645. Record vs. opponents: 1-5

Storyline down the stretch: Hopefully, Kerry Joseph is still drinking from the fountain of youth. Or maybe they finally realized their offence is based strictly on Fred Stamps and Hugh Charles. Either way, things are working out for the Eskimos.

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter @SUNIanBusby


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