Eskimos win means more than home field

If the Eskimos want to win in the playoffs, they need to have that eliminator mindset starting now.

A win in either game in the last two seasons would give Edmonton a home field advantage in the West semifinals, but they play their two potential opponents with the BC Lions in town this week and in Saskatchewan for the season finale. Both teams have locked their spots in the playoffs with 18 points, but one will be destined for the crossover slot.

Saskatchewan has a bye this week, so their only chance to improve is against Edmonton. Already spiraling in a five-game losing streak, the Riders can’t pass Edmonton in the standings. But more importantly, they can’t afford to face a hot team like Montreal or Toronto in the playoffs.

BC has more potential in the playoff race, as they still could host the semifinals. The Lions have to win this week in Edmonton and next week at home against Calgary to get a home playoff game and have Edmonton lose next week. The Stampeders already have the divisional title and the first round bye, so they may rest their starters. Either way, the Lions are pushing strong to stay ahead of Saskatchewan.

Despite the two-game winning streak, a sign of strength is needed for the Eskimos’ momentum. They can’t lay off and wait for BC to lose without yielding the momentum to the Lions. Edmonton beat BC in the season opener 27-20, but the two haven’t played each other since.

A loss to Saskatchewan could bring the Riders to Commonwealth Stadium, fresh with the confidence needed to make a playoff run. Nothing can bring a team out of a funk quite like a bye week, so Saskatchewan will be dangerous.

Closing out the season with victories will mean more mentally than in the standings, but the teams that can stay mentally strong are the ones that make deep playoff runs.