Skip to main content

The Edmonton Eskimos’ win streak coincides with quarterback Mike Reilly’s return as the starter after suffering a knee injury in the season-opening loss to the Toronto Argos.JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press

Mike Reilly and the Edmonton Eskimos can give themselves a little breathing room this weekend.

The Eskimos (12-4) visit the Roughriders (2-13) on Saturday night tied with Calgary (12-4) atop the West Division. But the Stampeders have a bye week so Edmonton can move two points ahead of its provincial rival with a victory.

And that would be big considering Edmonton has clinched the season series with Calgary and would finish ahead in the event of a tie.

It's the first game for Saskatchewan since dispatching quarterback Kevin Glenn and running back Jerome Messam at the CFL's Oct. 14 trade deadline. The Riders sent Glenn to Montreal and Messam to Calgary, respectively.

That means rookie Brett Smith will start for Saskatchewan, which lost 30-5 to Edmonton on July 31.

Edmonton comes in as the CFL's hottest team having won six in a row and a solid 7-2 within the West Division. Saskatchewan has dropped two consecutive games and is just 1-7 within the conference and 2-6 at Mosaic Stadium.

The Riders have also been eliminated from playoff contention.

Edmonton's win streak coincides with Reilly's return as the starter after suffering a knee injury in the season-opening loss to Toronto. The veteran quarterback has completed 135-of-215 passes (62.8 per cent) for 1,508 yards but has more interceptions (nine) than TDs (eight).

However, Reilly brings another element to Edmonton's offence, having rushed for 216 yards on 43 carries (5.02-yard average) with a TD.

Another huge factor has been an Edmonton defence that's tops in the CFL in fewest points allowed (16.1 per game), yards (290.9), rushing yards (65.3), passing yards (243.9) and passing TDs (17). And in last weekend's 26-23 overtime win over B.C., kicker Sean Whyte had six field goals, including the one that forced overtime as well as the winner the second extra session.

Also, Adarius Bowman had 11 catches for 198 yards and a TD versus B.C.

Pick: Edmonton.

Montreal Alouettes versus Toronto Argonauts

Toronto (9-6) is tied with Ottawa for second in the East Division, both just two points behind Hamilton (10-5). For the second consecutive week the Argos play at Tim Hortons Field, losing 27-15 to Calgary last weekend to stand 0-4 all-time there. A win would give the Double Blue the season series with the Als for the first time since 2005. Montreal (5-10) halted the Ticats' 10-game home win streak earlier this season but has lost four straight and must chase a West Division playoff berth.

Pick: Toronto.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats versus B.C. Lions

Hamilton is the CFL's best road team at 5-2 however East teams traditionally struggle at B.C. Place. Then again, the Lions (5-10) have had trouble protecting home turf with a 3-4 record there. But B.C. has deserved a better fate the last two weeks, twice losing by three points. The Ticats are coming off a 23-11 road win over Montreal as rookie quarterback Jeff Mathews was 21-of-25 passing for 241 yards and a TD.

Pick: Hamilton.

Ottawa RedBlacks at Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Ottawa (9-6) earned a 27-24 home win last weekend over Winnipeg (5-10) despite being outscored 24-11 in the second half. Henry Burris threw for 370 yards and a TD for the RedBlacks, with Chris Williams and Greg Ellingson both going over 100 yards receiving. Matt Nicholls had three TD strikes for the Bombers, who're battling B.C. and Montreal for the final West Division playoff spot, but also threw three interceptions.

Pick: Ottawa.

Last week: 4-0.

Overall record: 43-26.