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THE MOJ: Lions path to clinching 2nd place not as tough as you might think

Winnipeg will be relaxed, resting starters and less focused for two remaining tilts

The B.C. Lions 23-20 loss in Toronto on Saturday against the Argonauts has some Lions fans thinking that the team may have blown a chance to secure second place in the CFL’s Western Division – especially with two of their remaining three games against the two-time defending Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

But all is not lost.

Despite the fact that the Lions played arguably their sloppiest game of the season, they still control their own destiny as they begin the final month of the schedule.

The Lions and Calgary Stampeders are tied at 10-5 with both clubs still having three games left to play. The Lions have won the season series against the Stamps two games to one, thus should the teams finished tied, the Lions would secure second place.

An initial look at the remaining schedule doesn’t favor the Lions but a deeper dive tells a different story.

The Stampeders play host to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday night, then play a home-and-home series with the Saskatchewan Roughriders to end their season. The Lions entertain the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Friday and then finish the season with games on the road against the hapless Edmonton Elks and the Blue Bombers.

At first glance, the Lions appear to have a much tougher schedule with two dates against the 14-2 Blue Bombers but the Bombers have clinched first place and are now in a position to rest regulars. In fact, it was the main topic of discussion on the Bombers Radio Network post-game show after Winnipeg’s 48-11 dismantling of Edmonton.

The voice of the Bombers – Derek Taylor – and color analyst Doug Brown discussed the subject of how quarterback Zach Collaros should handled in the coming weeks with there being a debate on whether or not Collaros should only play a half against the Lions on Saturday at BC Place.

“If Zach Collaros is not available, they cannot win the Grey Cup. I think Zach is so special, I wouldn’t consider them the favourite in a West Final against whomever,” stated Taylor, while advocating sitting Collaros for periods down the stretch. Indeed, Bombers head coach Mike O’Shea will be walking a fine line in the next three weeks as he tries to maintain his team’s competitive edge while at the same time trying to rest regulars.

As for the Stampeders, the opponents they face will all have something to play for. Hamilton is in a battle with Saskatchewan for the final playoff spot as the Riders try to secure the crossover into the Eastern Division. The Tiger-Cats sit at 5-10 while the Roughriders record is 6-10. If the Roughriders are to win the crossover, they will have to do it outright as a tie between the two teams results in the Eastern team securing the playoff berth.

As a result, you can bet that the Stampeders will be playing teams in playoff mode in their last three games.

Add it all up and it should make for an interesting final month of the CFL season.

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media. And check out his weekly podcast every Monday at Today in B.C. or your local Black Press Media website.

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