Eskimos must win in order to save season
It’s not often that you see a CFL game with such high stakes. However, that is where we are with the Eskimos-Lions matchup this Friday. The Eskimos must win in order to have a chance to salvage their season and possibly the jobs of the coaching staff and management. It’s do or die time when the game kicks off at 8:00 PM Mountain time Friday night in Vancouver.
A spot in the playoffs on the line
The playoff math for the Lions and Eskimos is fairly simple. With a game in hand, a win for BC would clinch the season series against the Eskimos and guarantee the Lions at least a crossover spot. The Eskimos will likely have to win out against the Lions and Bombers in order to make the playoffs. A win will put the Eskimos with 18 points to the Lions 16, but the Lions have a game in hand, albeit it against the Riders and Stampeders. The Eskimos really have to win, then worry about Winnipeg. Even if the Bombers win against the Stampeders in Week 20, the Eskimos can tie them with 20 points by winning the season finale at the Brick Field on November 3rd. The Eskimos would own the tiebreaker by virtue of their 33-30 win on June 14th.
Winds of Change in Edmonton?
The Eskimos must win on Friday or else the repercussions could define the future of the franchise. Edmonton is hosting the Grey Cup this year. Expectations are high. Before the season began local journalists were picking the Eskimos to be a favourite to hoist the Grey Cup. When Jason Maas was hired in 2015 he acknowledged the lofty expectations of working in Edmonton with a telling quote:
“I understand the expectations of Edmonton,” [Maas] said. “I would prefer to come into a situation with great personnel and great staff and great people and when you’re 14-4 and you’ve won the Grey Cup I believe it’s obvious you have that here.”
While the degradation of the Eskimos roster is not Maas’s fault, it is clear that he hasn’t gotten the most out of the players he had to work with. The Eskimos are 30-22 with a 4th and 3rd place finish in 2016 and 2017. While the Eskimos have been to the Eastern and Western Division Final under Maas they have never been consistent. The defence always seems to be a work in progress and it is rare to see the team play a complete game in all three phases in the Maas era (although last week’s win against the RedBlacks is certainly one). An argument could be made that Mike Reilly and an impressive crop of receivers have kept the Eskimos above .500 over the years. Reaching the playoffs used to be a seasonal rite of passage in Northern Alberta. Now it’s a scramble to make it each year.
The Last Word
The Eskimos must win on Friday. It is that simple. Lose, and the Eskimos playoff hopes are nearly dead, certainly on life support at a minimum. Missing the playoffs in the year that they are hosting the Grey Cup would be a low point in the already rocky tenure of Jason Maas. You would also have to think that it would not help the Eskimos’ efforts to re-sign Mike Reilly in the offseason. It all makes for high drama and some serious stakes on Friday. Stay tuned.
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