Win and the Esks are in

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:03 AM ET

EDMONTON - Fifteen weeks into the 2011 season and nothing has been resolved in the CFL’s West Division.

While an Edmonton Eskimos victory on Monday would knock the Saskatchewan Roughriders out of the western playoff picture, it would also send the remaining three teams right back to square one.

If the Eskimos improve to 8-6 on Thanksgiving, they would move into a three-way tie for first place with the B.C. Lions and Calgary Stampeders, leaving four weeks of regular season to decide playoff positioning.

“This has been one of those years where, truly, parity has been a part of the league,” said Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed. “Great for the league, great for the guys that market the game, bad for the coaches’ anxiety level.

“It is truly a year where every second of a football game — indicative of (Saturday) night — really personifies that. It really counts.”

In fact, it was Lions kicker Paul McCallum’s last-second field goal from 53 yards out to edge the Stampeders on Saturday that set up the potential for a three-way square-off.

“Man, it would be good to have that situation if there was a three-way tie (Monday),” Reed said.

Close races have been the norm in the West, with two wins separating first from fourth in 2009, and three in 2008.

The East is a different story, with one win separating first from third. While the final standings may change, it has ended up that way just three times in the past 40 years, though most recently in 2006.

KILLER INSTINCT: Monday’s game is the first time Reed will get a look at how his team responds to having an opponent on the ropes, as they have the chance to deliver a knockout blow on Monday.

“Naturally you have a curiosity as to how your team is going to respond to different situations. This is a different situation for us,” said Reed. “Not focus on Saskatchewan’s fate, but focusing on where we can put ourselves.

“We have an opportunity to secure a playoff position. That’s a novelty for the guys in their experience with the Edmonton Eskimos. And now, how are we going to come out and play football?”

FOOT—BALL: Roughriders backup QB Ryan Dinwiddie will start in the place of the injured Darian Durant, who is out with a sore foot.

“He is well-prepared and anxious to go and has done a tremendous job this week of preparation,” said Roughriders head coach Ken Miller. “I look forward to him playing well.”

BRING DA ... QUIET?: Reed offered some words of wisdom to his players following Sunday’s walkthrough at Commonwealth Stadium.

“From here on in, the message is always, ‘Quiet the noise,’ ” he said. “There is going to be a lot of noise that they are going to hear and not just the noise of the crowd and all that stuff.

“But all of the things that are going to be said about this game, said about this team moving forward.”

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gerry.moddejonge@sunmedia.ca


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