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CFL Playoff Format: Crossover Rule and CFL’s Intention to Maintain Integrity of CFL Grey Cup Playoffs

As the CFL season quickly approaches its mid-point, each game of the season begins to weigh heavier regarding which teams make the Grey Cup playoffs and which three teams’ seasons end after Week 21. In the CFL X-Factors series, we have described different aspects of the CFL that set the league apart from all other professional football leagues.

CFL Crossover Rule

With these CFL rules variations in mind, the CFL playoff qualification system has its unique rule variation known as the Crossover Rule. The official CFL website describes the Crossover Rule as the following “if the fourth-place team in division A has more points, not tied, than the third-place team in division B, the fourth-place team will cross over to division B, replace the third-place team in division B, and compete against the second-place team of that division“.

So, to qualify for playoffs, all a team has to do is finish in the top 3 in its division unless the 4th place from the other division has a better record than that team.

The Crossover Rule aims to help as many teams as possible maintain relevance in the league during the season. If a team has a bad season, once that team is out of the playoff race in their division, fan engagement would be expected to decrease dramatically.

With the Crossover Rule, if a team is a solid team but in a strong division, then the team can still play for a playoff spot as long as the 3rd place team in the other division has an inferior record. That situation is at play this year in the CFL.

So far in the 2022 season, the East division teams have struggled against the West division.

Montreal is the 3rd place team in the East with a 2-6 record, and Saskatchewan is 4-4, so even though the Roughriders have a low chance of qualifying for the playoffs in the West division, they have a pretty good chance to be a crossover team.

If they are crossover, they must play on the road at the 2nd place team in the East. A crossover team has never won a Grey Cup championship since it was established in 1997. Could 2022 be the first season a crossover team wins the Grey Cup? We may find out over the 2nd half of this CFL season.

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Aaron Sauter Reporter
Aaron Sauter is a 23-veteran high school football coach that is also an fan of all levels of football. He is especially interested in alternative football leagues like the CFL, UFL, and IFL. Aaron enjoys analyzing innovative schemes on offense and defense during his free time.
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. David Tress

    August 9, 2022 at 12:25 pm

    The crossover game should be cancelled. The Grey Cup should be an East vs West game. If there were to be two Western teams in the Grey Cup game, the popularity of the game would diminish significantly in the East.

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