Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2-4) at Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1-5)Friday, 8 p.m. (EDT)
The Bombers are reeling from an avalanche of big changes, desperate to address their early struggles. They have replaced the general manager and president, added ex-Ticats boss Marcel Bellefeuille to the coaching staff, and now they’re giving former Brigham Young University quarterback Max Hall his first CFL start. Winnipeg’s defence leads the league in sacks (getting to Hamilton pivot Henry Burris seven times on July 13), yet, it struggles to defend the pass. Burris is the CFL’s leading passer (1,803 yards) and star slotback Andy Fantuz returns to the lineup this week.
The pick: Hamilton
Montreal Alouettes (2-4)at Saskatchewan Roughriders (5-1)
Saturday, 4:00 p.m. (EDT)
After suffering their first loss of the season in Week 7, the Riders will be motivated to rebound big, rather than go the way of the 2012 team, which started 3-0 and took an embarrassing slide to 3-5. Jim Popp is battling to revive his struggling Alouettes in just his second week as interim head coach, a task made much tougher with stars on the shelf (Jamel Richardson, Brandon Whitaker, Scott Flory). The Als offence turned the ball over seven times last week, and ranks last in the CFL in overall passing, total yards and touchdowns.
The pick: Saskatchewan
Calgary Stampeders (5-1)
at B.C. Lions (4-2)
Saturday, 9 p.m. (EDT)
The marquee game of the week. Calgary handed Saskatchewan its first loss of 2013, and may be the CFL’s hottest team. Jon Cornish is sizzling for the Stamps, having run for 175 yards and four touchdowns last week. He dominated the Lions when the teams met in Week 1. It’s a key chance for B.C. to edge upward in the West Division, but it must get more consistent play on offence. QB Travis Lulay struggled against Toronto in Week 5, but rebounded nicely against Winnipeg in Week 6 before the Lions’ bye. The Stamps have won the three latest meetings with the Leos, and are on a four-game win streak.
The pick: Calgary
Edmonton Eskimos (1-5)
at Toronto Argonauts (4-2)
Sunday, 7 p.m. (EDT)
The Grey Cup defending champs are on a three-game win streak and sit atop the East Division. Ricky Ray has completed 34 of his past 38 passing attempts and has yet to throw an interception this season, receiver/kick-returner Chad Owens keeps finding new ways to confound – such as last week’s missed field goal returned for a 118-yard touchdown – and the defence is back to the turnover-happy play that helped it thrive in the 2012 playoffs. It’s a tough matchup for the Eskimos, who are without two defensive stars (linebacker JC Sherritt, cornerback Aaron Grymes). The Esks are battling to halt a four-game losing skid and start digging out of the West basement.
The pick: Toronto