CFL Simulation: The playoff race tightens

TORONTO — On the heels of one of the more unpredictable weekends of the season, the impact of a trio of underdog wins is felt in this week’s edition of the CFL Simulation.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.cfl.ca/2022/09/19/cfl-simulation-the-playoff-race-tightens/
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The simulator again, for what it is worth, shows the heavy favour the current set up gives to the East.

For example, two East teams Toronto and Montreal, have far better odds to host a playoff game than BC or Calgary, even though the latter two teams have better records.

Toronto also has a far better chance to appear in and win the Grey Cup, presumably because of the easier path to the big game they enjoy based on longitude.

We can only hope this is the last year we see this ingrained bias in the format.

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really they think sask is going to go winless. They have to win 1 or 2 more games at least.

the east is almost like U-sports level. generally speaking the quality of play is horrible and the games nearly unwatchable, save for this weekend’s hamilton blowout of winnipeg.

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For the record, the Bombers 2 losses were to the EAST, 1 in their home park. There's been a fair share of unwatchable football played in the West as well with the Riders 2-7 & Elks 3-6 the past 9 games to name a few.

As for the bias, it so happens some teams have tougher schedules ahead than others. IMO, as I mentioned in another spot, with the Riders having to play IN Winnipeg, IN Hamilton & twice with Calgary, it's entirely plausible they don't win another game. Hardly a stretch. While Hamilton has Ottawa twice & the Elks plus a game in hand, also the Riders missing the playoffs is reasonable.

As for winning the Cup if both Toronto & Winnipeg, the favourites, end up in the game it's a toss up. Last year was proof positive of that with the game requiring OT, despite a clear favourite going in. :sunglasses:

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If Toronto and Winnipeg end up in the GC Winnipeg would still be favoured.

Yes Toronto could win, largely because of the longitudinal bias of the CFL as we have been discussing on other threads.

No one is against the underdog winning and going on a Cinderella playoff run, but that isn’t what happens in the CFL. Looking at Dave’s weekly one division standings, Toronto has only earned a semi final home date and has no business hosting a GC play in game with the 4th best record in the league. If Toronto played in the West division they could still win the odd GC in an upset but they would likely only have half the Cup wins they do at present. They would actually have to earn their seeding.

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i did say “in general”. also that winnipeg loss to montreal was almost unwatchable quality play.

re: quality of play

for me, the quality of play around the league is generally down compared to previous years and i attribute that to 2 things: generally poor quality QB play around the league (with a few obvious exceptions); and XFL/USFL competition for players.

I'm not saying Winnipeg would not be favoured & they should be favoured. In reality, it's a crap shoot - more like 50/50. Since 2012 only 4 teams who had the best record won the Cup - the 2014 Stamps '15 Elks, '18 Stamps & '21 Bombers. In 2012 & '18 the team with the 4th best record won, in 2013 the 3rd best won & in 2016 & '17 the Grey Cup winners had the 5th highest wins & both times beat the regular season champion, as did the 4th place teams of above. So FOUR times in that stretch you had teams with the 4th & 5th best regular season win totals take out a 1st place club.

Yes, the top clubs in ALL those years were favoured, heavily favoured in some cases, but the reality is, Jon, it's a toss up. In fact those FOUR wins by underdogs exactly matches the FOUR wins by 1st place teams winning the Cup in the big game. Parity has been a hallmark the recent past. In the 2010-2019 decade, every team in the CFL except Hamilton won a CUP. Cinderella teams DO win as often as not as you should know when your 4th placed Bombers did in 2019. Those are the facts, Jon, easily checked. And hosting a playoff game has nothing to do with it. Again, your 2019 Bombers had to win 3 on the road, no. :sunglasses:

I don’t think you have been following the threads on this and am missing my point, so I will clarify. The 2019 Bombers were a true Cinderella team or underdog who earned their GC victory. They weren’t gifted the hosting of the GC play in game. Neither was Hamilton that year as they earned it.

Most years, however, we are faced with what looks like will happen this year, namely that playoff seeding is governed by longitude and not regular season performance. Toronto, the fourth best team in the league at best, should host just a semi final game and then travel to the #1 or #2 team for the GC play in game. Their record is even more suspect with an unbalanced schedule heavily tilted towards playing Eastern lightweights.

Making it to the GC from the East under these conditions is a gift dictated by geography and in no way makes them a Cinderella team should they win under those circumstances. The Western GC team must play one or two tougher games against superior opposition to get to the GC while the Eastern team plays one or two games against inferior opposition who are often under .500. It is no wonder that the Eastern teams win more than their share of GC’s given the huge advantage they have and much easier road to get there. This would be much harder to do if playoff teams were seeded on merit. I predict that there would be many years that no Eastern team would even reach the GC game if they were forced to get there on merit rather than geography. If they got there on merit and won no matter how poor their record then kudos to them. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.

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this! very well said.

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[quote="Jon, post:6, topic:81034"]
...happens in the CFL. Looking at Dave’s weekly one division standings, Toronto has only earned a semi final home date and has no business hosting a GC play in game with the 4th best record in the league. If Toronto played in the West division they could still win the odd GC in an upset but they would likely only have half the Cup wins they do at present. They would actually have to earn their seeding.

I haven't disputed that there is a longitudinal bias, Jon, & that the East winner may have an easier path to the Grey Cup. I would like, as many fans, to see a one division team & have proper seeding. Guess what, you have the same problem in the NFL, MLB, NHL & it is what it is. What I am stating is that the GC game is a one off & the "best" team, as often as not, doesn't win. I stated that twice.

Why would the top West team, having to play only 1 game to get to the CUP like the East winner should that be the case, not have an advantage being battle tested against better competition to get there? Steel sharpens steel as they say.

I don't see why anyone should get offended by Toronto being ranked higher as a possible GC winner without there being a "BUT" attached to it. Toronto "could win because of the longitudinal bias"??? No, Toronto could win because they may be better that day. No BUTs. Let's not discuss the "legitimacy" of past winners because of the longitudinal bias. And if the bias is that pronounced then, Jon, Toronto not Winnipeg should be favoured, no? :sunglasses:

No disagreement that anyone can win any given game.

The problem with the longitudinal playoff system in place that you are overlooking is that Eastern teams do not earn their way into the GC. Winning a 4 team only often crappy division and only having to win one game to get there is inherently unfair. Meanwhile a Western team faces far stiffer competition which usually includes more risk of injury as well.

No one denies that there are anomalies in other leagues such as the NHL and NFL as well, but these anomalies are not virtually guaranteed by the rules and happen far less often. They also rotate depending on the strength of teams at any given time.

In the CFL the unfair imbalance is virtually institutionalized. For starters, the first place team has to beat one less team than the Western first place team does, a 33.3% advantage. Although I haven’t checked every year, aside from a good Argonaut team or two, the Calvillo led Als and the 2019 Ticats, I doubt there were many Eastern teams that finished ahead of the top two Western teams over the last 30-40 years.

It is also fair to speculate that many Eastern Grey Cup winners wouldn’t even had made it to the game if playoff seeding was based on merit rather than geography. Don’t see anything controversial there. I am not prepared to acknowledge that Eastern teams face the same challenges as Western teams to make it to and to win the GC, both past and present.

Saying that the Argos have won more Grey Cups than anyone else is artificial and rules aided. It’s the same as looking like Warren Beatty and saying that you have slept with more women than the next person. Not fair.

exactly. but i suppose it’s a challenge for the poorer east teams when they play each other more often lol.

the argo cup stat is utterly meaningless outside of historical context.

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The vast majority of the Argos success came at a time when the west was a laughingstock and an annual punching bag

Back in those days the east final was the "real" Grey Cup game
10 of the Argo wins happened way before I was born

Out of remaining 7 wins
5 times they were the winningest team & favourite
2 times they were underdog (both wins knocking off the Stamps who really are not very effective at "getting it done" in the big game overall)

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I have always liked the East West division and playoff system, and if I was given a chance to vote, I would vote to keep it exactly the way it is currently. Any team added to the East should either be Halifax or Québec.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the environmental and financial cost of changing the system. The four cities of the east are so close to each other geographically and this close proximity limits environmental impact and thus saves travel costs for the franchises. The CFL is not rich enough to advocate for longer travel distance, especially in today's environment. Even Halifax would be a geographical outlier.

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Ik three days but people really need to stop underrating the 2019 bombers squad the way they do. Before nichols got hurt they were tied for best record in the league while playing in a harder division the reason they fell to third was primarily bcs streveler couldn’t throw for more than 5 yards so while yes in theory the 2019 bombers squad were “underdogs” they really were anything but that since again when healthy they were tied for the number on record in the league. Now when talking about seeding imo it actually matters a lot in the cfl. Since 2010 the east has always been won by the number one seed of that season except three times which were 2012,2013 and 2021. The west as well seeding is very important but not to the extent of the east as since 2010 the first seed always won except 2010,2012,2013 and 2019. So to an extent based on previous events the Argos are definitely benefiting from being the first seed in the east since they have a 70% chance of making the finals if they finish First

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[quote="PalermoCatania67, post:16, topic:81034"]
...y has mentioned the environmental and financial cost of changing the system. The four cities of the east are so close to each other geographically and this close proximity limits environmental impact and thus saves travel costs for the franchises. The CFL is not rich enough to advocate for longer travel distance, especially in today's environment. Even Halifax would be a geographical outlier.

I cant understand why the East division teams are historically weaker. Every team folows the same cap space, neg list, draft and scout processes. And there is one extra team in the west, so its not diluting the talent there.