Fast starters: What does history tell us?

Fast starters: What does history tell us?
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Fast starters: a look at the last times each of the current 3-0 CFL teams made this start

Three team in the CFL have got off to a flying start this season. All of the fast starters are in the West Division. Because the BC Lions, Calgary Stampeders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers have all got off to 3-0 starts I thought it might be interesting to see what happened last time each of them did that.

Fast Starters: BC Lions 2007

Record: 14-3-1 West Division Champions. Points for 542 Points against 379. Playoffs: 0-1

For the last time the Lions jumped out to a 3-0 start we have to go back to 2007. That is the last time the Leos started a season so well. In fact, they went two better than that and made a 5-0 start to the season. A couple of losses and a tie saw them at 5-2-1 by their bye week. After which they came back in great form winning nine of their last ten games and finishing the season 14-3-1.

This was a team that had 15 West Division All-Stars & 9 CFL All-Stars by season’s end. However, the West Final proved a step too far as they were defeated 26-17 by the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

In fact this was part of a pattern between the two rivals. This was the third time in four years that they met in the West Final. Each time the team that lost the regular season series won out here. And so it proved again.

This was the most wins ever in a season by the Lions. BC fans would love to see that again – but they may want more from the playoffs!

Calgary Stampeders 2018

Record: 13-5 West Division Champions. Points for 522 Points against 363. Playoffs: 2-0.

This season was all about redemption for the Stampeders. Having gone 28-6-2 over the previous two seasons, and been heavy favourites in back to back Grey Cup games, they came away empty handed on each occasion.

The third time however proved to be a charm. The Stampeders qualified for the playoffs for the 14th straight year and finished in first place in the West Division for the third straight year. But after those two championship losses, the Stampeders claimed the Cup this time around.

They did better than a 3-0 start making it all the way to 7-0 before a bye week. Although they had their first defeat after that bye they still looked good on the way to 12-2. A three game losing streak followed before rounding out the season 13-5.

This team had six West Division All-Stars & 3 CFL All-Stars by season’s end. They may not have had the most All-Stars but these fast starters finished really well. They won the West Division championship with a 22-14 home win over Winnipeg before defeating the REDBLACKS 27-17 for the Grey Cup.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers 2019

Record: 11-7 West Division third place. Points for 508 Points against 409. Playoffs: 3-0.

Like the previous two teams, the 2019 Blue Bombers did better than a 3-0 start getting out of the traps to 5-0. Unlike the previous two however they did not win the West Division. In fact they took a route through the Western semi-final en-route to going 3-0 in the playoffs and proving a championship really is a marathon and not a sprint.

Winnipeg suffered their first two defeats back to back before making it to 9-3 for their second bye week of the season. After the bye the results just didn’t come. They lost four of the next five and at 10-7 every game became a playoff for them. They defeated Calgary and went to 11-7 to see out the season and ensure a playoff spot.

This team had six West Division All-Stars & 3 CFL All-Stars by season’s end. Just like Calgary the year before this, they may not have had the most All-Stars but these fast starters finished really well.

In the postseason wins came at Calgary (35-14), at Saskatchewan (20-13), and in the Grey Cup as they upended Hamilton 33-12. That rout saw them break the longest Championship dry spell in the league, and pass that mantle to the Tiger-Cats.

Does being a fast starter mean anything?

Can we really derive any meaning from season’s past? Every year squad’s are slightly different and each team will face a new and differing set of challenges. As noted too, an 18 week season is a marathon and not a sprint.

It really is about how you finish and not how you start. After all BC last won the grey Cup in 2011 following an 0-5 start to the season.

But it would appear a fast start does no harm. These three teams made a combined 17-0 start and that resulted in a combined record of 39-15-1, three playoff appearances, two West Division titles, and two Grey Cup championships.

The fans of each team will be hoping to see more wins coming and with them the chance of a playoff spot and wherever they may lead. As ever, it will be fun watching it all unfold on the fields of the CFL.

Banner Image: Calgary celebrate winning the Grey Cup in the fast starters club back in 2018. Image from cfl.ca

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