Hamilton Tiger-Cats (6-7) at Toronto Argonauts (9-4)
Friday, 7 p.m. (EDT)
Toronto has already secured a playoff berth and holds a comfortable lead atop the East Division, but here comes a home-and-home series with second-place Hamilton to help paint the playoff picture. Backup quarterback Zach Collaros has led the Double Blue to four consecutive road wins, and running back Chad Kackert seems back to his old, elusive self.
Multipurpose star Chad Owens appears healthy and may play. Their rivals from down the road haven’t been as successful, coming off a biting loss to Calgary in which the Ticats had six turnovers and two missed field goals. Henry Burris is the CFL’s leading passer, but his interceptions are mounting lately, and Toronto’s defenders have shown a recent appetite for creating turnovers.
The pick: Toronto
Saskatchewan Roughriders (8-5) at B.C. Lions (9-4)
Friday 10 p.m. (EDT)
The Lions have punched their playoff ticket, and still have a shot at catching Calgary atop the West Division. They are on a three-game win streak and are undefeated at home. Although quarterback Travis Lulay is slated to be sidelined for a couple more weeks, backup Thomas DeMarco is proving to be a worthy stand-in. Saskatchewan stumbles in with a four-game losing string after starting the season with eight wins in their first nine games.
The pressure on the arm of quarterback Darian Durant may be lessened with CFL-leading rusher Kory Sheets returning from the injured list. There is serious jockeying to be done atop the West in this one.
The pick: B.C.
Montreal Alouettes (5-8) at Edmonton Eskimos (3-10)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. (EDT)
Despite a jumbled rotation of quarterbacks due to various injuries, the Alouettes find themselves nipping at the heels of second-place Hamilton. Josh Neiswander appears to be the QB of the moment, and is maturing in the role. Not surprisingly, the Als passing attack has quieted compared to recent seasons, yet the team is coming off a win over Saskatchewan in which receiver Duron Carter had a great coming out (five catches for 148 yards, one touchdown). The Eskimos are coming off a loss to the Argos in which they gave up a big late-game lead and lost quarterback Mike Reilly when he suffered a concussion on a helmet-to-helmet crack. But he has practised late this week, and it appears he might play.
The pick: Montreal
Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2-11) at Calgary Stampeders (10-3)
Saturday, 6:30 p.m. (EDT)
Winnipeg’s crushing season hasn’t gotten any better. The Bombers are bumbling along on a three-game losing skid, and their chances of catching Montreal in the East are daunting – especially as they collide this week with the league-leading Stamps. Calgary has only lost once at home and is determined to stave off the challengers knocking on the door of the West Division. Look for Jon Cornish to continue his pursuit of the league rushing lead. Expect the Stampeders to keep hawking turnovers and limiting their own mistakes in order to preserve their top ranking.
The pick: Calgary