Go fourth and multiply

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:54 AM ET

You could make a case that the Edmonton Eskimos have an amazing opportunity here, not just for themselves but for Alberta and Canada.

If they don't screw this up and finish second or third.

I mean, can you imagine it?

Edmonton versus Calgary in the Grey Cup game in Montreal?

Do you have any concept of what kind of week that could be with the fans from these two towns in that town?

The best chance of it happening would be if one Alberta team finished first and the other finished fourth. And the best chance of that, if you look at the remaining schedule, is if Calgary takes first and Edmonton fourth.

Now, I don't expect Danny Maciocia or the Edmonton Eskimos organization to be thinking along these lines now that they've put themselves in a position to pretty much finish anywhere.

FINAL FOUR

Calgary, B.C. and Saskatchewan are tied for first, with Edmonton two points back heading into the final four games of the schedule.

The Eskimos have a chance to win the season series against all three teams ahead of them.

But really, would they not be better off finishing where they are, in fourth? Would they not be better off playing as the crossover club in the East semifinal, than finishing second or third in the West?

Wouldn't it be easier to beat Winnipeg or Toronto in the East semi than to defeat Calgary, B.C. or Saskatchewan in the same game out West?

Wouldn't the East final be easier to win than the West final? The number of Grey Cup hosts who gag on the division final to get them to their own Grey Cup game is staggering. And teams from the East are a combined 6-20 against the West this year.

If nothing else, it makes for interesting water cooler conversation going into the final four weeks of the season.

Certainly, if you're Maciocia, you want your players to come together and be as good as they can be. This isn't just about this year, it's about learning how to win and once again becoming a team that can win together on a regular basis and go into every season thinking Grey Cup - like Eskimos teams used to do.

Take the next two from the B.C. Lions and Edmonton would be in a very interesting position. Beat Saskatchewan in Regina and they'd win the season series against the defending Grey Cup champions. They've already won the season series with Calgary. All sorts of things could come into play.

"Four weeks ago people were saying we were the best team in the CFL," Maciocia said.

"Last week they had us playing in Winnipeg in the East semifinal. Tomorrow, I don't know what they'll say.

"But we have four teams separated by two points, and we're going to find out in the next little while what kind of football team we have. But one thing I do know is that we have this on the right track."

I agree. Carry on carrying on.

But for a fan, there's a lot to chew on here with only one Toronto loss or one Edmonton win required for the crossover rule to come into play again.

For the fifth time since the "crossover" became part of the CFL, a West team will play in the East semifinal, the winner advancing against the Alouettes in the East final.

No team from the East has ever made the crossover to play in the West semi.

In the first ever crossover playoff game, the fourth place B.C. Lions (8-10) bumped third place Winnipeg (4-14) but lost 45-35 in Montreal to the Alouettes in 1997. In 2002 fourth place Saskatchewan (8-10) bumped third place Hamilton (7-11) and traveled to Toronto and lost 24-14 to the Argos. The following year the Lions (11-7) bumped Ottawa (7-11) and travelled to Toronto and lost 30-14 to the Argos.

Most recently, in 2005, Saskatchewan (9-9) crossed over, bumping third place Ottawa (7-11) and lost 30-14 to Montreal in the East semifinal.

Maciocia, as a rookie head coach, became the first Eskimo coach to win the semi, the final and the Grey Cup on the road.

NICE RECOVERY

After missing the playoffs for the first time in 34 years and then missing them again for a second straight season, it would be a nice recovery for both coach and club to become the first crossover club to get to the Grey Cup.

On the other hand, maybe the Eskimos aren't the team to send East to get that job done. They've lost half the West's games to the East this year. They've lost in both Winnipeg and Toronto. And they got bombed 40-4 in Montreal.


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