The Globe’s Rachel Brady makes her picks for Week 18 of the CFL season.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers (3-13) at Toronto Argonauts (10-6) Thursday, 7:30 p.m. (EDT)
Toronto would appear the obvious and overwhelming favourite in this one. The Bombers are already eliminated from the postseason, while an Argos win would clinch the East Division title and give them a first-round bye. However, last week in Winnipeg, the Double Blue had a 23-3 lead at halftime, yet mustered just a six-point win after letting Bombers quarterback Max Hall bring his team dangerously close to an upset. In this rematch at Rogers Centre, Toronto knows QB Ricky Ray and the offence must maintain rhythm throughout the game against a team that has vowed not to roll over. Look for the return of Argos running back Chad Kackert this week, as the defending champs hope to secure the easiest possible road to the Grey Cup.
The pick: Toronto
Edmonton Eskimos (3-13) at B.C. Lions (9-7) Friday, 10 p.m. (EDT)
Travis Lulay still hasn’t recovered fully from that shoulder injury, so Thomas DeMarco will be under centre again this week for B.C. The young QB led the Lions to back-to-back road wins in his first two CFL starts, but has struggled mightily in his last three – all losses to foes from the West Division. If the Lions hope to make a run in the playoffs, closing out the final games of the schedule with wins could prove crucial to their mindset. But don’t expect QB Mike Reilly and the Eskimos to make it easy, despite already being erased from the playoff picture. Last week, they pushed Calgary – the CFL’s top team – to the brink, before falling short.
The pick: B.C.
Montreal Alouettes (7-9) at Hamilton Tiger-Cats (8-8) Saturday, 1 p.m. (EDT)
After stringing together a pair of impact victories over archrival Toronto, the Ticats crumbled last weekend against a hot Montreal defence. Playing host to a rematch this week in Guelph, Ont., presents Hamilton’s biggest chance to secure at least second place in the East and remain in contention for a shot at the division title. But look out for the Alouettes, who had a surprisingly sensational debut from QB Troy Smith last week. The 2006 Heisman Trophy winner as the most outstanding player in U.S. college football, Smith is looking to show he can be the new man in Montreal. The Als are no doubt inspired by the boost and ready for a late-season fight to land themselves a home playoff game, along with some vindication for a rocky start to the year.
The pick: Hamilton
Saskatchewan Roughriders (11-5) at Calgary Stampeders (13-3) Saturday, 7 p.m. (EDT)
The Stampeders are on a four-game win streak and hold the league’s finest record. RB Jon Cornish continues to chew up impressive amounts of yardage – he rolled for another 145 on the ground last week against Edmonton. The Stamps can clinch the West with a victory over the second-place Riders. Saskatchewan has had its ups and downs, but is on a three-game win streak and dominated the Lions last week, forcing nine turnovers. Saskatchewan can maintain a chance at stealing the division title with a victory. The Riders need to limit Cornish and roll behind their own star rusher, Kory Sheets, who rumbled for 133 yards and major when the Riders beat the Stamps in July. They split their two meetings this year, so it’s anyone’s game.
The pick: Calgary