The events of Week 20 in the CFL 2023 regular season have ensured that there will be no playoff ramifications at stake next weekend.
It all started with the Calgary Stampeders besting the BC Lions on Friday night, which clinched the West division for Winnipeg. Then, on Saturday, with their slumping season on the brink, the Roughriders battled hard but faltered late as the league-leading Argos, led by backup players, stole one in the final moments. As a result, the Stamps are headed back to the postseason for their 18th consecutive season.
The same six CFL teams that made the postseason in 2022 are back, with the same exact playoff matchups taking place when the calendar turns to November.
Here is what the standings look like heading into the final three games of the 2023 CFL Regular Season.
CFL 2023 Regular Season Standings
|Winnipeg Blue Bombers – y||17||13||4||26||558||364||8-1-0||5-3-0||9-2-0|
|BC Lions– x||18||12||6||24||495||439||6-3-0||6-3-0||8-4-0|
|Calgary Stampeders – x||17||6||11||12||399||435||3-5-0||3-6-0||4-6-0|
|Toronto Argonauts – y||17||15||2||30||584||374||9-0-0||6-2-0||9-0-0|
|Montreal Alouettes – x||17||10||7||20||420||372||4-4-0||6-3-0||6-3-0|
|Hamilton Tiger-Cats – x||17||8||9||16||388||439||3-6-0||5-3-0||3-6-0|
y – Clinched Division
x – Clinched Playoff Berth
CFL 2023 Week 21 Power Rankings
#9: Ottawa REDBLACKS (4-13 )
- Last Week’s Ranking: 8
- Last Game: 40-27 Road Loss To Toronto
- Next game: Home versus Toronto, Saturday, October 28th
The Redblacks had their final bye week of the 2023 season in Week 20. Ottawa has one more game to play before turning the lights off for another seven months.
Ottawa doesn’t have much to play for, which has become a regular occurrence for them in the fall. The Redblacks will be looking to avoid going 0-10 in the East, and maybe they can deny history by stopping the Argonauts from going 16-2.
The team that has the CFL’s worst record since 2019 (14-53) is left wondering how they can turn around their ill-fated fortunes again as the off-season approaches.
#8: Edmonton Elks (4-14)
- Last Week’s Ranking: 7
- Last game: 45-25 Loss To Winnipeg
- Next game: 2024
For the second year in a row, the Elks finished a season with a 4-14 record. Somehow, things feel a lot better in 2023 than they did in 2022. But the bottom line is that Edmonton proved in the final few weeks that they’re still several steps away from turning the corner.
Tre Ford gave Edmonton hope. But it’s going to take further growth from him and the entire team for the Elks to become relevant.
The Elks were 4-5 in the second half of its season. But dropped their last four games against BC, Toronto, Montreal, and Winnipeg. Four established playoff teams who are in a position that Edmonton hopes to establish for themselves one day.
#7: Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-12)
- Last Week’s Ranking: 9
- Last game: 29-26 Home Loss To Toronto
- Next game: 2024
For the second straight season, Saskatchewan finished the year with a 6-12 record. But in many respects, 2023 was a hell of a lot worse than a year ago.
At one point, the Riders were riding a high after beating BC and Winnipeg in successive weeks to improve to 6-5. They would then collapse on themselves, losing their final seven games and relinquishing a playoff spot that should’ve been in the bank.
In their final game of the 2023 season, Saskatchewan, with their playoff hopes on the line, delivered a spirited effort at home against the defending CFL champion Argonauts. But Toronto, with a cast of reserves, snatched away what appeared to be a certain Roughriders victory.
There’s no doubt that the injury of Trevor Harris didn’t help matters early in the year. But the truth is that Saskatchewan rebounded from that loss. It was their defence, and the team’s propensity to beat itself that led to the Riders’ demoralizing demise.
A complete organizational reset should be coming. But will it?
#6: Calgary Stampeders (6-11)
- Last Week’s Ranking: 6
- Last Game: 41-16 road victory over BC
- Next game: Home versus Winnipeg, Friday, October 27th
The Stampeders saved their best for last.
With their playoff lives on the line, they climbed over the carcass of Saskatchewan and then slayed the Lions at BC Place 41-16. As a result, Calgary won’t need to work for their supper in the final week of the CFL regular season. The proud franchise is headed back to the postseason for an unprecedented 18th straight season.
The now 6-11 Stamps can use the final week of the season as prep mode for a quick rematch with the team they just dominated, the Lions. When the two rivals square off in the Western Semi-Final.
Calgary’s overall record this season is certainly nothing to boast about. However, while they don’t match up talent-wise to the league’s elite on the field, it would be foolish to overlook or dismiss the team’s talent on the sidelines.
Dave Dickenson, Brent Monson, and the Stampeders staff make Calgary dangerous in a playoff setting. In a year where there didn’t appear to be a path out of the abyss. Dickenson and his staff found one.
#5: Hamilton Tiger-Cats (8-9)
- Last Week’s Ranking: 5
- Last game: 33-30 Home Loss To The Lions
- Next game: Week 21, At Montreal, Saturday, October 28th
There’s a growing sense of optimism surrounding the Tiger-Cats as they head toward the playoffs. Some people in CFL circles feel like Hamilton can and should be hosting the 110th Grey Cup. Something that the Cats did two years ago in a heartbreaking loss to Winnipeg.
However, the talk of the Ti-Cats taking that leap again is a bit premature. After all, There are two carts being put before the horse. First and foremost is Montreal. A team that knocked Hamilton out of the postseason a year ago. The Tiger-Cats are playing the Alouettes in Week 21, in what is the calm before the storm. Both teams will be taking ultra-vanilla approaches in the regular season finale before the real bullets fly in the East Semi-Final.
#4: Montreal Alouettes (10-7)
- Last Week’s Ranking: 4
- Last game: 35-21 Home Victory Over Ottawa
- Next game: Home versus Hamilton, Saturday, October 28th
Montreal is 10-0 this season against everyone not named Toronto, Winnipeg, and BC. The Alouettes are looking to challenge at least two of those teams again. But they have Hamilton directly in their flight path.
The Als regular-season finale against the Cats at home holds no value for either team.
Montreal has won five straight games against Hamilton, beating the Tiger-Cats soundly in their two meetings this season. But a victory on Saturday won’t carry much weight. It’s what happens the following week that will.
#3: B.C. Lions (12-6)
- Last Week’s Ranking: 3
- Last game: 41-16 home loss to Calgary
- Next game: Western Semi-Final against Calgary, Saturday, November 4th
It’s challenging to get a good read on the Lions’ lopsided home loss to Calgary in their regular season finale.
Even though it was a long shot, the Leos still had something at stake heading into Week 20. An opportunity to keep their slim hopes alive of hosting a West Final.
However, at the first hint of trouble. British Columbia surrendered at the front gate against Calgary. Down on the scoreboard, the Lions pulled Vernon Adams at the half. Dane Evans tried to bring BC back, but the damage was already done.
Rick Campbell had to know that succumbing to the Stamps would all but ensure that his team would face Calgary in the playoffs. It was only two months ago at BC Place that the Lions whiplashed the Stamps 37-9. So perhaps, Campbell and his staff are confident in how they match up with their Western rival.
For the last two years, BC has been transfixed on getting over the mighty mountain that is Winnipeg. A repeat West Final between the Lions and Bombers seems like destiny. But one more misstep at home would vanquish that possibility.
#2: Winnipeg Blue Bombers (13-4)
- Last Week’s Ranking: 2
- Last game: 45-25 Home victory over Edmonton
- Next game: At Calgary, Friday, October 27th
Even with the Western Division title already sewn up. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers exerted their dominance over Edmonton with a convincing 45-25 win at home. Mike O’Shea’s squad is predictably peaking at the right time.
Winning at IG Field for whoever ends up playing the Bombers in the West Final seems like an insurmountable task. It’s challenging to see a scenario where they are not back in the Grey Cup for the fourth consecutive CFL season.
#1: Toronto Argonauts (15-2)
- Last Week’s Ranking: 1
- Last game: 29-26 road victory over Saskatchewan
- Next game: At Ottawa, Saturday, October 28th
In what was a less-than-stellar all-around performance by the Argos. Somehow Toronto found a way to win in Saskatchewan against a desperate Roughriders team. It was a game that the Argonauts didn’t need but still managed to win with none of their star players leading the way.
After Chad Kelly, A.J. Ouellette, and DaVaris Daniels all accomplished season milestones. With Kelly hitting 4,000 yards passing and Toronto’s top skill players netting over 1,000 yards. The trio sat on the bench and watched as Cameron Dukes, Daniel Adeboboye, Richie Sindani, and Mason Pierce rallied late with big plays to propel the Boatmen to a now record-tying 15th win.
The Double Blue’s vast depth has been on full display for over a month now in what has amounted to inconsequential exhibition-styled games for them.
The lone knock against the Argonauts, and it’s a valid one, is that head coach Ryan Dinwiddie, who is on a brilliant run, played with fire, keeping his most valuable player Chad Kelly still in the game going deep into the third quarter. It nearly proved costly on a couple of occasions as Kelly narrowly avoided serious injury.
The dilemma for Double Blue heading into the final weekend of the regular season is history. The Toronto Argonauts have a chance to not only do something the club has never done in its 150-year existence, and that’s finish an 18-game schedule with a 16-2 mark. But they can also go into the record books with Edomton in 1989 as sharing the best regular season mark by any CFL team during an 18-game season.
What the Argos season ultimately boils down to is them hoisting the Grey Cup trophy again. Anything less at this point is a failure, and a key injury before the playoffs is what could sink their ship.
Perhaps Toronto can get to 16-2 without Chad Kelly in Ottawa, however, even if the team matches what the 16-2 Eskimos accomplished in 1989. The Argonauts must avoid matching that glorious Edmonton team’s fate of falling short when the playoffs arrive.
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