Having one conference or division be much stronger than the other is not uncommon in sports. Recently, the NHL had the Western Conference experience a run as the stronger half of the league, but that’s swung back to the East. And in the NBA, the Western conference seems to get stronger as teams try to keep up with the Golden State Warriors.
But I’m not sure I’ve ever seen two divisions as unbalanced as the Canadian Football League’s are right now.
Take a look at the standings for the two leagues, and without even getting into stats it’s obvious that the East has been terrible this year.
You have Hamilton bringing up the rear as the league’s only winless team, and their struggles are well-documented here at HST. Even with their winless mark, the Tiger-Cats are still just three games back of a playoff spot with 10 games to go.
And even just the most basic numbers test gives you an idea of how bad they are. Three of the four teams have negative point differentials, including Hamilton’s astounding -162 differential. In fact, the only team in the East with a positive point differential is Ottawa, who managed to do so despite a 2-6-1 record, making their +4 mark even more impressive.
Look up at the standings again, the East is so bad that the current last-place team in the West, the Saskatchewan Roughrigders, would only be two points back of first place if they played in the East, and they would have two games in-hand on current East leader Ottawa.
In head-to-head competition, East vs. West, the East has been trounced through eight weeks, going 2-15-1, with the last win by and East team coming in Week 4. So it’s been a while. The East will get three more cracks at a win against the West this week with Montreal hosting Winnipeg, Ottawa hosting British Columbia, and Toronto heading out to Calgary. Of those three, only Ottawa is favored, and only by -1.5, so it’s basically a coin-flip and they got the token home point-and-a-half gift.
And it’s not just crossover games where they’ve struggled. East teams have also been abysmal on the road. The Top-3 of Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa are a respectable 7-6-1 at home (Hamilton is of course winless), the East as a whole has gone 2-14 in road games this season, with both of those wins coming against fellow East Competitors.
Perhaps most amazing: no team in the East has managed to win back-to-back games, granted there are only nine wins between the four teams, but still, not once has a team managed to go on even the shortest of hot streaks to get a little momentum going. Think about that, a team in the East could win two games in a row, and take over the division lead. Not even a big 4-5 game hot streak, just managing to piece together the start of a winning streak.
And it’s not bias or bad luck, take a look at the CFL power rankings on the official site: West take spots 1 through 5, while the east has 6 through 9. That bad.
With 9 or 10 games left for each team in the East, it’ll be fascinating to see if anybody can step-up and string together a few wins to maybe be a threat in the playoffs, or to see if they keep getting worse and then we all have a big argument about if every team in the West should make the playoffs.
I can’t wait to find out what it’s going to be.