Gear up for the wild, wild west

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

Upon further review, the West really is best in the CFL. Five weeks into the season, the playoff-crossover scenario looked near impossible this season.

After Week 14, a case could be made for a West Division to host the East final, not just play in the semifinal.

With Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatchewan winning games in the past few days, all three teams have records that would put them first in the East Division, tied with the Toronto Argonauts.

West teams have a 21-12 record against the East this season, so with the way the remaining schedule breaks down, the Alouettes have the toughest road to the playoffs.

Montreal faces Calgary, Saskatchewan and B.C. in its last six matchups. Toronto only faces one more West team, while Ottawa plays all its remaining games within its division.

But with the way the Renegades are playing, if they didn't face the Tiger-Cats twice in the last five, they probably wouldn't win another game.

In the West, the playoff picture is muddy but should be fun to watch over the last six weeks.

The Stampeders hold the hammer because they have a game remaining with each of the Roughriders and Eskimos to decide the season series, which could be the difference in hosting a playoff contest.

The first-place Lions become a bit of a non-factor in the playoff race. They only need one win to clinch the division and could rest their starters a lot.

The Roughriders have an advantage on the Eskimos after beating them at Taylor Field two weeks ago. All they need to do is win the last meeting with Edmonton to hold a tie-break advantage.

The Eskimos need to beat Calgary in the last game of the season at McMahon Stadium or will lose the series with the Stamps. Edmonton only faces one team with a losing record, so their road is the toughest of all.

But the best scenario for all three teams would be to stay ahead of Ottawa to win the crossover with a fourth-place finish and go into Montreal and Toronto. Going through the East could be the easiest way to reach the Grey Cup this season.

OPENING DRIVE: As expected, the Stampeders dumped receiver Kori Dickerson yesterday after he dropped a handful of catchable balls Thursday against the Renegades. Expect more new faces in practice this week as the Stamps add depth for a playoff run ... Oh, if only Ricky Ray could predict the future, he might be starting for the New York Jets this week instead of the Edmonton Eskimos. Both Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler went down with shoulder injuries this weekend and the Jets will start Brooks Bollinger Sunday against Baltimore. Ray asked for his released before CFL training camp because he didn't expect to get a chance with New York. How wrong he was ... Before beating Winnipeg Sunday, Montreal QB Anthony Calvillo had a record of 1-6 when he threw for 301 yards or more. Conversely, the Alouettes record is 4-0 when Calvillo doesn't hit the magical mark, proving once against stats are for losers (and fantasy players) ... B.C. coach Wally Buono has marked down every possible injury for a player missing a game, so he was a little surprised to fill out Barron Miles' card against Montreal. "It's the first time I've lost a player to chickenpox," Buono told the Vancouver Sun before Miles returned for a the Lions first loss Saturday against Edmonton ... Running back Hakim Hill fits right in with the Bad Ship Argo. The rookie, who was suspended and forced out of Canada because of outstanding charges, was arrested again two weeks ago in Arizona on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Hill, 22, allegedly crashed an SUV into a wall, fled the scene and was found hiding in a lake. He won't be returning soon to the Argos, who have the longest rap sheet of anyone in the CFL. The club also had to play Friday without returner Bashir Levingston, who was suspended one game for throwing his helmet in the stands.

ENDZONE TOSS: Don't expect Khari Jones to land with the Stampeders this season -- or with anyone else for that matter. The former MVP has set his price too high after asking for his release by the Tiger-Cats last week. With Henry Burris about to return in the next few weeks and Danny Wimprine playing well enough to beat Ottawa, there is no need for Calgary to spend any more money on reserves ... The Renegades need a 3-2 record in their last five games to trigger the automatic extension on Joe Paopao's contract for next season. After losing five straight, that seems like an impossible task ... This is probably just a coincidence but Lions head coach Wally Buono had dinner with Alberta Lieutenant-Governor Normie Kwong Friday, a day before his club tried to tie the record of 12 straight victories to begin a season. It just so happened Kwong was the star of the 1948 Stampeders team that held the record. No word on whether Kwong popped champagne after the Eskimos beat the Lions Saturday.

EXTRA POINTS: The latest promotion from the Renegades obviously straight came from odd-ball owner Lonie Glieberman. Who else would come up with a contest to 'win a date with a cheerleader' except for someone who has already dated an Ottawa cheerleader. They should rename the contest 'Become Lonie for a day' ... Winnipeg RB Charles Roberts passed Willard Reaves for second on the franchise's all-time rushing list. Roberts' 6,064 yards trails only Leo Lewis (8,861) ... Only in Taylor Field moment of the year: A rabbit ran loose for the better part of two minutes in the opening quarter Friday night against the Argonauts. It gives new meaning to having a jackrabbit in the backfield ... Just like everyone watching, Sean Millington was left scratching his head Friday as to why the Argonauts didn't give him the ball for a goal-line plunge. The hulking fullback was on the sidelines as quarterback Damon Allen missing three times in trying to punch the ball in. "You would have thought that would be my role here," said Millington, who ended his retirement to join the Argos last month. "It's a role I had established in the past and I've already done here."

NUMBER 10

The amount of yards Joffrey Reynolds needs to break the 1,000-yard barrier for the first time in his CFL career. Reynolds is in this position after racking up an incredible 185 yards against the Renegades.

ON THE FIELD

TOMORROW

Ottawa at Toronto, 5:30 p.m., TSN

FRIDAY

Edmonton at Hamilton, 5:30 p.m., TSN

SATURDAY

Montreal at Calgary, 5 p.m., CBC

Saskatchewan at B.C., 8 p.m., TSN

BYE: Winnipeg

WHAT DID YOU SAY?

"Hell, yeah, we said, 'Here we go again. Nate and I looked at each other and we just made them crumble in there. We got such a good push and the linebackers did their jobs, got in the gaps and we stopped them. There's nothing else to say -- we just flat-out owned them."

-- Saskatchewan DT Scott Schultz about Toronto's three failed attempts to score from the one Saturday.


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