They've endured a sometimes quirky 2022 schedule but it has also delivered head coach Ryan Dinwiddie and the Toronto Argonauts to a very simple and emphatic completion.
Toronto (10-6) concludes its regular campaign with a home-and-home series versus the Montreal Alouettes (8-8). The two teams square off Saturday night at Molson Stadium before returning to Toronto's BMO Field on Oct. 29.
Both teams have cemented East Division playoff berths and home post-season games. Toronto needs just a split to clinch first — and host the conference final Nov. 13 — whereas Montreal must win both contests to finish atop the standings.
The Argos won the first meeting, a season-opening 20-19 decision at BMO Field after David Cote's 21-yard field try with 18 seconds remaining sailed wide for a single.
A big reason for Toronto's record has been its ability to take care of business within the East Division. The Argos are 6-2 versus conference rivals (3-1 against Hamilton, 2-1 against Ottawa) and are 5-3, both at and away from BMO Field.
Toronto faced Hamilton four times between Aug. 6 and Sept. 5 and also played two road games versus Ottawa (Sept, 10 and Sept. 24) separated by a bye week. But the Argos were 5-1 in those contests.
Montreal is 4-4 versus East Division rivals (2-1 with Hamilton, 2-2 against Ottawa) and also 4-4 on the road.
Both teams earned comeback wins last week.
Montreal outscored Ottawa 17-6 in the second half en route to a 34-30 road win that left the Redblacks 0-8 at TD Place this season. After falling behind 16-6 at halftime in Edmonton, Toronto rallied for the 28-23 victory that extended the Elks CFL-record home winless streak to 16 games.
Offensively, Toronto boasts the CFL's leading passer in McLeod Bethel-Thompson. The veteran starter tops the league in yards (career-best 4,491), attempts (550) and completions (367), figures worth noting as the Argos are ranked last overall in rushing (79.9 yards per game).
However, American A.J. Ouelette ran nine times for 91 yards and the game-winning 25-yard TD against Edmonton.
Canadian Kurleigh Gittens Jr. is enjoying a banner '22 campaign, having registered career highs in catches (74) and yards (984) and his next TD grab will be his fifth this season, which would be another season-high.
Montreal starter Trevor Harris is third overall in passing yards (3,744) and boasts an impressive 71.3 completion percentage. Eugene Lewis is third overall in receiving with 85 catches for 1,231 yards and nine TDs.
The Als are sixth in CFL rushing, averaging 90.3 yards per game, but William Stanback, the league's rushing leader last year, recently returned to the lineup.
Toronto sports a defence that's forced 43 turnovers and 81 two-and-outs, both tops in the CFL. The unit is also tied for first in fewest offensive TDs allowed (27) and stands second in fewest offensive points surrendered (20.8 per game).
Defensive back Jamal Peters also leads the CFL in interceptions (six) and return yards (137), with one pick returned for a touchdown.
Ottawa Redblacks versus Hamilton Tiger-Cats (Friday night)
At Hamilton, the Ticats (6-10) come off their first road win of the year, a 35-32 decision in Calgary, their first victory at McMahon Stadium since '04. A win and Saskatchewan loss would give the Steeltown crew third in the East and eliminate Ottawa (4-12) from playoff contention. The Redblacks are also looking to go 2-1 under interim head coach Bob Dyce after last week's loss to Montreal.
B.C. Lions versus Edmonton Elks (Friday night)
At Edmonton, Canadian rookie Tre Ford replaces injured starter Taylor Cornelius (spleen) as the Elks (4-13) try to snap their CFL-record 16-game home losing streak. The franchise's last win at Commonwealth Stadium was a 19-6 decision over B.C. in October, 2019. The Lions (11-5) can cement second in the West Division — and home field for the conference semifinal — with a victory. They're coming off a 40-32 home win over a Winnipeg team that had already clinched first in the division, though.
Calgary Stampeders versus Saskatchewan Roughriders (Saturday night)
At Regina, Calgary (10-6) will have nothing to play for but pride if B.C. wins in Edmonton. But the Stampeders remain one of the CFL's top road teams (6-2) and veteran Bo Levi Mitchell — twice the CFL's outstanding player — could see significant playing time. Saskatchewan (6-10) comes off the bye having lost five straight and six of their last seven overall. What's more, the Riders are just 3-6 versus conference rivals and lost control of their playoff destiny with an 18-14 road loss in Hamilton on Oct. 7.
Last week: 3-1.
CP's overall record: 52-21.