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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

CFL THIS WEEK

BC at WINNIPEG, Thursday, 6:30 pm

Like Winnipeg (2-3), B.C. (2-2) is coming off a disappointing loss. The Lions led visiting Toronto 21-0 before the Argonauts rallied for the 30-27 victory. The loss was just the second in 20 career starts at B.C. Place for Lions' quarterback Travis Lulay, who threw for just 165 yards versus Toronto. Bombers starter Drew Willy was hurt against Edmonton and it's unknown if he'll face the Lions while receiver Nick Moore (lower body injury) is questionable.

Prediction - B.C.
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SASKATCHEWAN at EDMONTON, Friday, 7 pm

Life without starting quarterback Mike Reilly hasn't exactly been all doom and gloom for the Edmonton Eskimos.

The Eskimos (3-1) have won three straight since Reilly suffered a knee injury in their season-opening 26-11 home loss to the Toronto Argonauts on June 27. After sweeping a home-and-home series with Ottawa, Edmonton routed Winnipeg 32-3 on Saturday to move into a tie with Calgary (3-2) atop the West Division standings.

Backup Matt Nichols has been the starter in all three wins, having completed 47-of-79 passes (59.5 per cent) for 650 yards with four TDs and four interceptions. Nichols will be under centre Friday night against Saskatchewan (0-5) despite rookie James Franklin completing 9-of-15 passes for 124 yards and three TDs against Winnipeg.

Defensively, Edmonton has been solid this season, having allowed just 58 points overall. Defensive end Marcus Howard has a league-high five sacks and was named one of the league's players of the month for July on Wednesday.

The start to the season has been one to forget for Saskatchewan. The Riders lost incumbent Darian Durant (Achilles tendon) in the season opener then veteran backup Kevin Glenn suffered a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter of their 31-21 home loss to Hamilton on Sunday.

Glenn won't play against Edmonton, leaving rookie Brett Smith to make his first CFL start. Smith replaced Glenn against Hamilton and completed 2-of-4 passes for 12 yards. Tino Sunseri, who drew some starts last year after Durant suffered a season-ending elbow injury, will serve as Smith's backup.

Sunseri re-signed with Saskatchewan following Durant's Achilles injury after being released by the club during training camp.

Offence hasn't been the problem for the Riders, who boast the CFL's top passer (Glenn, 1,483 yards) and rusher (Jerome Messam, 329 yards) and second-leading receiver (Weston Dressler, 26 catches for 403 yards and two TDs). Saskatchewan has also scored a league-best 143 points.

But opposing teams have scored a league-high 165 points against the Riders, who incredibly are 0-4 at Mosaic Stadium.

Prediction - Edmonton
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MONTREAL at CALGARY, Saturday, 5 pm

Calgary (3-2) will be without rushing leader Jon Cornish (thumb). The defending Grey Cup champions are 3-0 at home but have allowed more points (126) than they've scored (112). Bo Levi Mitchell has a 62.3 per cent completion average with five TDs and four interceptions. Rookie starter Rakeem Cato has been solid, leading Montreal (2-2) to its wins while posting a 72.2 per cent completion average with 822 yards and four TDs. He's also averaging a solid 6.4 yards per rush.

Prediction - Calgary
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TORONTO at HAMILTON, Monday, 5 pm

Hamilton (2-2) plays its home opener against its biggest rival. The Ticats are unbeaten in seven games at Tim Hortons Field, including last year's 40-24 win over Montreal in the East final,. Toronto (3-1) plays its fifth straight road contest before hosting Saskatchewan on Aug. 8 at Rogers Centre. Argos quarterback Trevor Harris has been sensational in place of the injured Ricky Ray, completing 74.8 per cent of his passes for 1,177 yards with a league-best 11 TDs and just four interceptions.

Prediction - Hamilton

Last week: 2-2

Overall record: 8-12

(Canadian Press/Dan Ralph)

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