Every game will only seem more meaningful as we enter the last weeks of the season. Particularly for those jockeying for playoff position. Not to mention for those playing for jobs or coaching roles!
CFL SEASON WEEK 18 GAMES
Week 18 saw a full slate of games. East Division leading Hamilton were on a bye as the rest of the teams slugged it out.
Ottawa opted to give Will Anrdt his first full start in the opening contest of the weekend as the Argos hosted the REDBLACKS.
For the Argos, SJ Green went into the game 90 yards shy of 10,000 for his career.
That was followed by Saskatchewan visiting Calgary to battle for the West Division lead. The last time Saskatchewan and Calgary played for first place in the West Division this late in a season was back in 2009.
The third game of the weekend saw Montreal travel to Winnipeg. The last time Montreal had a record this strong this late in the season was in 2012. That year they finished 11-7.
Winnipeg were looking to recover from 3 defeats on the bounce. Their home record at 6-1 offered some hope.
The week concluded with a crossover clash as BC looked to keep their slim playoff hopes alive at Edmonton.
Ottawa REDBLACKS 21 at Toronto Argonauts 28
It will have been all the more pleasing for them to start their ‘new era’ with a win then.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson returned as the signal caller for the Argos. He threw for 300 yards and hit Armanti Edwards for 2 touchdowns.
The story for the Boatmen though was SJ Green who hit his 10,000 career yards target in style. As in this game he caught 10 passes for 170 yards.
Will Arndt, making his first full start went 28 of 42 for 288 yards and 2 touchdowns for Ottawa. However, he also threw 3 picks which surely helped Toronto take the game.
The Argos led 17-3 at the half and for an Ottawa team that has folded too easily of late the REDBLACKS second half resolve was impressive. Down 28-11 they added 10 points late and the Argos needed an interception to seal the deal.
Saskatchewan Roughriders 28 at Calgary Stampeders 30
The battle for the lead for the West was held in a wintry Calgary. In what was a standout game this week it was the defending champions who came through with the win.
An early field goal and a fumble recovery touchdown on a kickoff gave Calgary an early 10-1 lead. The Riders response came in the form of a pick 6 from Nick Marshall.
With Calgary up 13-8 in the second quarter the Riders engineered an 84 yard eight and a half minute drive capped by a TD run from William Powell.
Down 15-13 the Stamps responded with a quick drive ending in a TD pass from Mitchell to rookie Hergy Mayala.
Saskatchewan hit a Field Goal to trail 20-18 at the end of a closely contested, high quality half of football.
In the third quarter Mitchell again hit Mayala for a touchdown. The Riders hit another Field Goal early in the 4th quarter and the game stood at 27-21.
Calgary hit on another Field Goal and led 30-21 with just over 3 minutes to go.
Saskatchewan notched another TD. This time Powell receiving one from Fajardo. That was with just over 2 minutes left. From there Calgary converted a key first down and saw out the game.
Montreal Alouettes 24 at Winnipeg Blue Bombers 35
Montreal arrived in Winnipeg on a real high after their first playoff qualification since 2014.
They had also recorded their biggest ever comeback against this Winnipeg team just 3 weeks ago.
It was the Blue Bombers though who came out of this one with a much needed win. A win that helps them keep pace at the top of a highly congested West Division.
Andrew Harris was back on form with 24 carries for 166 yards and a touchdown.
Winnipeg scored on their first drive but Montreal responded with a Field Goal and a punt return TD. Winnipeg scored again in the second quarter and led 15-10 at the half.
In a see saw game the Als re-took the lead in the third. After that though Winnipeg got three Field Goals from Justin Medlock and led 24-17 into the 4th quarter.
Nick Taylor took back a pick 6 for Winnipeg and another Medlcok Field Goal saw them in control late on.
The Als hit back with a 37-yard touchdown from Adams to Bray, but this time there was to be no dramatic comeback.
B C Lions 6 at Edmonton Eskimos 19
The hard charging Lions arrived chasing Edmonton’s crossover spot in the playoffs. By the time it was over their last vestiges of post-season hope were gone and they had lost their starting QB.
Prized off-season Signing 2017 MOP Mike Reilly had been the last man standing of the starting trigger-men.
Star of the show for the Esks was Greg Eillingson. On his way to his fifth consecutive 1,000 yards season he had 6 catches for 133 yards.
With starting running back CJ Gable out for Edmonton, Shaquille Cooper deputised brilliantly with 18 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown.
Having missed out on the playoffs last year, Edmonton will be pleased to be joining the party this time out.
Following week 18 of the CFL season the inter-Divisional standings now see the West Division ahead 25-15 on the season.
With Montreal losing Hamilton have now won the East and will host the Eastern Final in the playoffs.
In the West Division the Riders hold the tie-breaker advantage in a 3-way tie at the top as they, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg all sit with 10 wins. The last 3 weeks will be critical for deciding who will play where and who gets a bye week in the post-season.
Edmonton’s win over BC confirms them as the crossover team and we now know for certain who is in the playoffs.
Toronto, BC and Ottawa all know they will be sitting out the playoffs this year.
Week 19 of the CFL season kicks off with Toronto traveling to Montreal. The Argos will want to maintain some form after their win. The Als will be looking to bounce back and confirm a season at .500 or above in the process.
Saskatchewan will then visit BC looking to bounce back from defeat to the Stamps and put pressure on their rivals for the division lead. BC will want to show they can be competitive without their starting QB.
Ottawa will travel to Hamilton trying to avoid another defeat. The Ti-Cats meanwhile are aiming for their most wins in a regular season and will see this as a good chance to add a W.
Finally, the key contest of the week will see Winnipeg in Calgary for the first of a home and home series. Both teams are vying for the Division lead and this could be a good one.
Banner image: Bo Levi Mitchell has an incredible record as a starting QB in the CFL. He added to that in a win over the Riders. Image from TSN.