With the conclusion of Week 15 in the Canadian Football League, there's just one more week left before the start of the playoffs.
And while the standings aren't solidified just yet, we were able to get some answers from the weekend's slate of games.
The Toronto Argonauts officially claimed the East Division with a dominating 31-12 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The Calgary Stampeders eliminated any chance of the B.C. Lions getting into the playoff party, thanks to a 33-23 victory at BC Place.
The Montreal Alouettes downed a depleted Winnipeg Blue Bombers team that had rested several of their starters, winning 28-14 in a rare matinee tilt at Percival Molson Stadium. Finally, the Saskatchewan Roughriders locked up second in the West with a narrow 29-24 victory over the lowly Edmonton Elks, meaning Calgary will finish third.
Only the Tiger-Cats and Alouettes are still jockeying for position in the East, answers that will be provided by the end of the week. But before we look too far ahead, let's look back on the week that was in the latest edition of CFL Rundown.
1) It was the news we all knew was coming but hated to hear, nonetheless. The legendary Bob Irving, who has done radio play-by-play for the Bombers for nearly 50 years, is calling it a career at the end of the 2021 season. There has been a lot said of Irving's time in the CFL and there will be more to come. I'd like to personally thank Bob for everything he's done, and it's been an honour to get to know him over my years covering the Bombers.
2) Because Irving's employer, 680 CJOB, doesn't have the radio rights for the Grey Cup game, as it stands Irving's last call will be the West final on Dec. 5. That doesn't seem right, at all, and I'm hearing TSN, the station with the rights, are mulling over the idea of simulcasting the TV broadcast. I'm not sure what has to happen, but something should be done or bought or moved or whatever to get Irving in that chair one more time.
3) There was some more drama out of Ottawa this week after Le Droit reported that Redblacks running backs coach Charles Eger was asked to leave the team for making insensitive comments towards several French-Canadian players. Dennis Cordell, Eger's agent, issued an apology by his client over Twitter, a statement that also included his side of the story.
4) I mentioned last week that former Bombers QB Chris Streveler made his 2021 NFL debut for the Arizona in Week 9, registering two snaps in a 31-17 win over San Francisco. This week, Streveler took it a step further, entering the game in the third quarter before orchestrating a 12-play, 56-yard TD drive in the final frame of a 34-10 loss to Carolina.
5) Count me as someone who thought the Ticats were going to march into BMO Field and feed the Argos their lunch. Well, they didn't even come close in what was a fight for first place in the East. Some teams are still scared of Hamilton, but only because they'd be playing at home in the Grey Cup.
6) After weeks of consistent play, QB Jeremiah Masoli looked pedestrian in Toronto. He overthrew receivers on several occasions and was intercepted twice. He eclipsed 300 passing yards again and had four rushes for 37 yards, but he didn't throw for a touchdown and his completion percentage was 55 per cent – the first time it's been under 60 since a Week 1 loss to Winnipeg.
7) No, it's not time for Dane Evans. Masoli is the guy in Hamilton.
8) The Ticats should be more concerned about its kicking game. Taylor Bertolet is statistically the worst kicker in the CFL, converting just 67.6 per cent of his attempts. He was even worse than that Friday, going one-for-three, missing kicks from 47 and 48 yards. In close games, those lost points are the difference.
9) The Ticats lost out on their chance to claim the East but can secure second place with a win this week over a Roughriders team that will surely rest several of its starters. They would also clinch if Montreal lost to Ottawa, which doesn't seem likely.
10) I don't know what to think about the Argonauts, other than to say they're just a much different team at home than on the road. Indeed, they're 6-0 at BMO Field and 3-4 everywhere else. Seems crazy to think they won't win the East final, about as much as it is likely they'll lose the Grey Cup.
11) Uh oh, don't look now but Stampeders QB Bo Levi Mitchell played against the Lions the way we've come to expect from one of the league's best. He was 20-of-26 passing for 264 yards and three touchdowns. He also didn't throw an interception, making that three times in four games without a pick.
12) We all knew the addition of receiver Reggie Begelton was going to be big for the Stampeders, but I'm not sure we thought the chemistry was going to return that quickly. Begelton had seven catches for 119 yards in his 2021 debut, while adding a key touchdown late in the second quarter to tie the game. There was a scary moment, though, after Begelton took a hit late in the fourth and laid motionless on the turf for a few moments. He suffered a neck injury but is said to be OK.
13) Ka'Deem Carey had another strong outing in what has been a solid season for the Stampeders running back. He rushed 15 times for 85 yards and a touchdown, bringing his year-long totals to 869 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. He also has 26 receptions for 194 yards. I still think the biggest weakness against Calgary is playing in cold temperatures, but an improved running game with Carey should help that.
14) It's crazy to me that the Lions still had a chance for a playoff berth, but that's now gone after losing a seventh straight game.
15) It was an ugly game for Winnipeg and even uglier performance by backup QB Sean McGuire, who went 11-for-26 passing for 149 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. Still, I think he deserves another chance next week against Calgary, if only to protect Zach Collaros from being injured.
16) I don't personally enjoy adding salt to a wound, but Shaq Cooper's performance in the return game was painful to watch. Filling in for Janarian Grant in what was his first game action since being released by the Lions, Cooper fumbled the ball three times trying to field punts. Winnipeg only lost one but even Mike O'Shea had seen enough by game's end, replacing him with Kelvin McKnight on the team's final return.
17) Bombers kicker Sergio Castillo hasn't exactly been the sure foot we all expected him to be, even if he has made some quality attempts over the last two games since being traded from B.C. Against the Alouettes, Castillo never attempted a field goal but sailed wide a kick on a one-point convert. He missed a 38-yard field goal the week before. Nothing to panic about, but the hope for Winnipeg is he's getting the misses out of the way for when things really count.
18) The Alouettes were supposed to win the game and they did. Eugene Lewis looked great reeling in pair of touchdowns and quarterback Trevor Harris threw for three TDs. But they didn't look like a team desperate to win, and the game seemed much closer than it should have been.
19) Duke Williams had his welcome-to-Saskatchewan game against the Elks, reeling in eight catches for 146 yards and a touchdown in a win over the Elks. His yardage accounted for nearly 60 per cent of QB Cody Fajardo's damage through the air and marked just the second time this season a Roughriders receiver eclipsed a 100 receiving yards. Like Begelton, Williams finished the game banged up, but should be good.
20) Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson had to call a timeout to open the second half because he didn't have 12 guys on the field. According to Dickenson it was a bunch of crap – literally and figuratively – as some guys were delayed from having to use the bathroom.
21) Tom Vallesi, a 17-year veteran official in the CFL, announced the timeout and with the mic still on he said either "fu-- them" or "fu-- that" immediately afterwards. You'd think he'd know better after officiating for that long. The CFL issued a public apology a day later. Another only-in-the-CFL moment.
22) With the Elks now one game into their three-games-in-seven-days schedule to close out the 2021 campaign, it's time to use these last pair of games to see what you have for next season. If Nick Arbuckle is the future, we should see a fair amount of him, too. The good news? The Elks season is over in 6 days.
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.