The Impossible Dream: Can Edmonton be the first?

The Impossible Dream: Can Edmonton be the first?
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Is the ‘Impossible Dream’ anywhere near becoming a reality? The Impossible Dream that is of a crossover team reaching the Grey Cup.

Only if the 9-10 Edmonton Eskimos can do the unthinkable and unseat the league best 15-3 Hamilton Tiger-Cats at home.

The odds are against the Esks. Ever since the league brought in the crossover rule in 1996, no team has made it to the Grey Cup.

Never been done

So, to be clear, Edmonton are trying to do something that has never been done before. No Crossover team has ever reached the Grey Cup.

Including the Esks this year, 12 teams have qualified for the playoffs in the opposite division.

For UK fans who may be a little confused, a ‘crossover’ happens when the fourth-place team in one division finishes with a better record than the third-place team in the other.

A more detailed explanation can be found here.

What has gone before

Here’s a look at how the crossover teams have fared in the playoffs:

1997: B.C. Lions lost 45-35 to Montreal Alouettes in Eastern semi.

2002: Saskatchewan Roughriders lost 24-14 to Toronto Argonauts in Eastern semi.

2003: B.C. lost 28-7 to Toronto in Eastern semi.

2005: Saskatchewan lost 30-14 to Montreal in Eastern semi.

2008: Edmonton Eskimos beat Winnipeg Blue Bombers 29-21 in Eastern semi, lost 36-26 to Montreal in Eastern final.

2009: B.C. beat Hamilton Tiger-Cats 34-27 (OT) in Eastern semi, lost to Montreal 56-18 in Eastern final.

2012: Edmonton lost 46-26 to Toronto in Eastern semi.

2014: B.C. lost 50-17 to Montreal in Eastern semi.

2016: Edmonton beat Hamilton 24-21 in Eastern semi, lost to Ottawa REDBLACKS 35-23 in Eastern final.

2017: Saskatchewan beat Ottawa 31-20 in Eastern semi, lost 25-21 to Toronto in Eastern final.

2018: BC Lions lost to Hamilton 48-8 in Eastern Semi-Final.

2019: Edmonton beat Montreal 37-29 in Semi-Final, will face Hamilton in the Eastern Final.

As we can see crossover teams have made the Eastern Final on 4 occasions and lost them by an aggregate score of 152-88. Esks fans will be desperate for it not to become 0-5.

Does the ‘Impossible Dream’ have a chance?

Hamilton were a dominant team this season. Their 15-3 record was no fluke, and that included going 8-2 against the West, and even more tellingly, 8-0 at home.

Added to that, The Tiger-Cats beat Edmonton in both of their meetings this year. Whilst they just squeaked out a 30-27 win on the road, they demolished the Esks 42-12 in Week 15 at home.

All of which means that Edmonton must travel to a rested team, unbeaten at home, who thrashed them last time they played here. All whilst trying to become the first crossover team to make the Grey Cup.

The Trevor Harris Factor

The Esks greatest chance comes on the arm of the returned Trevor Harris. One of Edmonton’s prime off-season signings, Harris was in the MOP conversation before injury this season.

Now he is back, rested and he has been here before. For Edmonton to reach the Grey Cup any replication of his playoff record six-touchdown performance, set in last year’s Eastern Final, would be most welcome.

Harris may have missed time during the season, but he still had an incredible year.

With only 13 games he was still Edmonton’s MOP candidate. That after he completed 343 of 478 passes (71.8%) for 4,027 yards and 16 touchdowns and six interceptions, while also rushing 48 times for 139 yards and six touchdowns.

Harris led the league in completions and was second in yardage even missing 5 weeks of play!

In the Eastern Semi-Final, Harris was an artist, going 36 of 39 for 421 yards with 1 TD. That 92.3% completion rate is a playoff record.

The first 22 passes were completions too, one shy of the league record. Harris actually broke his own playoff game completion percentage record set last year, and was 2 completions short of the record (38) set by Kerwin Bell.

Hamilton will have dissected the tape, will be rested and will be ready. So can Edmonton manage the ‘Impossible Dream’? There’s always a chance, no matter how small.

That’s why we watch the games – to see it all unfold on the field. Let’s hope both the East and West Finals give us great games.

Banner Image: Trevor Harris – his arm is the Esks best chance of pulling off the impossible dream. Image from cfl.ca

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