From The Toronto Star
As the CFL heads into its 19th and final week of the regular season, only two things are known with any certainty.
The Montreal Alouettes will host the East Final at Olympic Stadium on Nov. 22 and the Toronto Argonauts will again miss the playoffs.
Those two teams meet at Rogers Centre on Saturday in the only meaningless game on the schedule.
The other three matchups will determine whether Calgary or Saskatchewan hosts the West Final and what trio of other teams will join them and the Als in the hunt for the 97th Grey Cup on Nov. 29.
Hamilton at Winnipeg
Topping the list of potential feel-good stories is the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who would rebound from back-to-back 3-15 seasons by hosting the East semifinal Nov. 15 if they can go into Winnipeg and beat the Blue Bombers on Sunday.
In fact, the Ticats are headed to the post-season for the first time since 2004 even if they lose their finale, as long as Edmonton and B.C. don't tie their game on Friday night.
"Right now, the only guarantee we have is that, if we win, we're in," Hamilton head coach Marcel Bellefeuille told reporters on Sunday. "So that's where our focus is until we're told otherwise."
With a home playoff date at stake, Bellefeuille doesn't expect to have to offer his team extra motivation.
"If you want to have success in the playoffs, it's a lot easier if you can host at least one game," said Bellefeuille, whose 8-9 team beat Saskatchewan 24-6 at home Saturday.
For Winnipeg (7-10), a win over Hamilton would secure a home playoff date. But a loss would see their season come to an end.
"Now we're in a situation where it's winner take all," Bombers' head coach Mike Kelly said Sunday following a 48-13 drubbing by the Alouettes (14-3) in Montreal. "Let's stand in the middle of the ring and slug it out and see what happens."
Meanwhile, Kelly apologized on Monday for a profanity-laced post-game tirade in response to media suggestions his team might have been looking past Montreal to their showdown with Hamilton.
Out West, both games are big.
Calgary at Saskatchewan
Calgary (10-6-1) goes to Regina to take on the Roughriders (9-7-1), with the winner clinching the division title and hosting the West Final Nov. 22. The loser finishes second and hosts the semi-final.
Calgary's 28-26 win over the B.C. Lions (8-9) in Vancouver Saturday night set the stage for the first-place clash, which brought relief to a Saskatchewan team that battled the flu all week going into Hamilton.
Edmonton at B.C.
In the weekend's other game, the Edmonton Eskimos (8-9) travel to B.C. to play the Lions, with the winner getting third place in the West.
"I thought our final fate would come down to the last game of the season, but I didn't think that we would be battling for our lives as far as being in the playoffs," Edmonton head coach Richie Hall told reporters Sunday, a couple days after his team's 36-10 thumping of the Argos (3-14) at Commonwealth Stadium.
"I thought it would be just a matter of what place would we finish in.
"I just (thought) the West was going to be a dogfight and it has been. But I thought we would be farther along than what we are."
Still, all four teams in the West can qualify for the post-season.
The loser of the Eskimos-Lions tilt would go to the playoffs in the cross-over East spot if Winnipeg loses at home to Hamilton.
A tie would also get both in.