Revamped CFL playoff would ensure competitive final week

IAN BUSBY

, Last Updated: 8:12 AM ET

With a week remaining in the CFL season, all six playoff teams are decided, and the only thing on the line is who will host the West semifinal.

The two worst playoff teams will play in the East semifinal, as the 7-10 Winnipeg Blue Bombers will host the 9-8 Edmonton Eskimos. The winner will face the 11-6 Montreal Alouettes.

That leaves the 11-6 Saskatchewan Roughriders and 11-6 B.C. Lions to duke it out for the right to play the 12-5 Calgary Stampeders in the West final.

Maybe it's time to discuss an altered playoff format to ensure the best two teams make the Grey Cup.

Although the championship final is rarely a terrible game, no one would argue the top two teams faced each other in last year's West final, when the Riders knocked off the Lions.

The CFL could go to a one-division format with the top six teams making the playoffs (which essentially it does now).

If they did that, the final week of the season would have much more importance this year as all but one game would help determine seeding.

Under this format, the Lions would still need a win over the Stamps in the final week, but they would get a bye instead of just clinching a home date. Calgary would have already clinched first, of course.

The Alouettes and Roughriders would also host games, but they would have a shot at second if the Lions stumbled.

Still, both teams would want to get third to be able to host the Blue Bombers in the opening round instead of the Eskimos.

The playoff matchups could be the Bombers at Alouettes, and the Eskimos travelling to face the Riders. There would be a reseeding after the opening round as worst plays first in the semifinals.

The way it is now, the Bombers and Alouettes knew their playoff destinations with three weeks left in the season in the Least Division.

OPENING DRIVE

The Tiger-Cats have seen enough from Marcel Bellefeuille in seven games to give the coach a long-term contract extension and drop the interim title. Although the Ticats have one win in those seven games, Bellefeuille has them playing harder with several personnel moves. The next question is whether the Ticats will bring back QB Casey Printers, who has sat in recent weeks in favour of Quinton Porter ... The Riders have opened up their box office to season-ticket holders for playoff ducats, although they have yet to clinch second. After selling out the regular season for the first time in team history, the Riders are flying high. They have 23 wins over the past two seasons, which is the most in that span since 1970-71 ... Stamps head coach John Hufnagel confirmed yesterday he will play his starters Saturday against the Lions in what is a meaningless game in the standings for Calgary. This is good news for two players chasing titles. RB Joffrey Reynolds leads Riders RB Wes Cates by 95 yards for the CFL rushing lead, while WR Ken-Yon Rambo is one yard up on Lions SB Geroy Simon in the receiving race.

ENDZONE TOSS

In case you thought Thursday's game at Rogers Centre was completely unworthy of attending, the Argos announced yesterday they are giving away a truck to one lucky fan. So there is something to watch other than seeing former starting QB Michael Bishop lead a playoff-bound team on the opposing sideline ... Bombers RB Daryl Stephenson couldn't have expected to get seven carries in his first CFL game, but he was called upon after Joe Smith went out with injury in the win over the Als. Stephenson set a CIS rookie rushing record in 2004 ... Team nominees for player awards come out today and there are some interesting ones to watch. Will WR Paris Jackson or DL Brent Johnson be the Lions top Canadian? Either one will be a favourite to win the West Division. Will DL Keron Williams or LB Diamond Ferri be the Alouettes defensive player? Whoever comes out of the Als will likely face Lions DL Cam Wake for the league award.


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