It’s starting to look like Ottawa are separating themselves from the pack in the CFL East. They stand in first place at 6-3 (which could easily have been 7-2 if the Argos hadn’t staged a thrilling comeback to win 42-41 in the dying moments of a week 8 contest).
Alongside their division lead QB Trevor Harris has been finding form of late averaging 410 passing yards in his last three games. (An annoying coincidence is that his form took a dramatic upturn the minute I stopped picking him for my fantasy team!).
They are 3-1 at home and 3-1 in the division so they can feel confident in their current home form and that they are in a good position re: tie-breakers if any were needed at a later stage. There has long been debate bout Western Division dominance but Ottawa are 3-2 against the West and coming off an impressive win in Winnipeg.
If the Redblacks maintain their current form then the division is theirs for the taking. For the last few years anything around the .500 mark has been enough and it certainly looks like Ottawa will exceed that this year.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised. This iteration of an Ottawa CFL franchise has only played since 2014 and in those four seasons they have already made the playoffs 3 times, won the Eastern Division twice and appeared in 2 Grey Cups winning it all in 2016. If the CFL does add a tenth team they could do worse than to look at the blueprint the Redblacks have used to get so competitive so rapidly after their opening 2-16 season in 2014.
If you check the Wikipedia entry for the Redblacks you will read the following, ‘For record-keeping purposes, the CFL now recognizes all three Ottawa-based clubs that played in the CFL or its predecessors–the Rough Riders (known as the Ottawa Football Club from 1876 to 1898 and the Ottawa Senators from 1926 to 1930), the Renegades and the Redblacks–as “a single entity” dating to 1876, with “two intervals of non-participation (1997-2001 & 2006-2013).”
You can see some of the recognition of that history in the Redblacks celebrating the CFL’s ‘Diversity is Strength’ campaign with former GM Jo-Ann Polak https://www.ottawaredblacks.com/2018/08/08/polak-made-story-helping-rough-riders-stay-afloat/ and the Ottawa Rough Riders Grey Cup wins of 1968 & 1969. https://www.ottawaredblacks.com/2018/08/09/rr50-68-69-grey-cups-30/
None of that continuity and recognition of past franchise connections can diminish how successful an expansion franchise Ottawa have proved to be. Setting aside their first season they are currently 34-27-2 in the regular season and always competitive in the East.
The last time the East sent a more dominant into the playoffs it was the Redblacks themselves in 2015 who finished 12-6 and lost in the Grey Cup to Edmonton. If they continue their current form there is no reason to think they won’t have another winning season. If so, the East is theirs for the taking.
Image originally from www.ottawaredblacks.com