Thursday, October 1, 2015
CFL THIS WEEK
On Thursday night, the Ottawa Redblacks (7-5) play the first of two key home games in five days versus East Division rivals. The second-year club hosts the Montreal Alouettes (5-7) before a rematch with the Toronto Argonauts (7-5) on Tuesday night.
Toronto beat Ottawa 35-26 last week to win the season series and take over second place in the division. The Argos were supposed to host Tuesday's game but relocated the contest to TD Place to avert a potential scheduling conflict at Rogers Centre due to the Major League Baseball playoffs.
The following night, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (8-4) come off the bye to host the Calgary Stampeders (10-3) in a Grey Cup rematch.
The Stamps won the first contest 24-23 at McMahon Stadium in the season opener for both clubs. The Ticats will begin their stretch run without starter Zach Collaros, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the club's 25-18 loss to Edmonton on Sept. 19.
Matt Nichols faces his former Edmonton teammates Saturday afternoon for the first time since being dealt to Winnipeg on Sept. 2. He is 1-2 as a starter for the Bombers (4-9).
The Eskimos (9-4) boast the CFL's top-ranked defence and one that returned two interceptions for touchdowns against Hamilton.
Later on Saturday night, the Saskatchewan Roughriders (2-11) will attempt to register a second straight victory for the first time this season when they meet B.C. (4-8). The good news for the Lions is starter Travis Lulay resumed practising this week after being removed from the six-game injured list.
Here's a closer look at all five contests:
MONTREAL at OTTAWA, THURSDAY
Rookie Rakeem Cato starts for Montreal despite throwing two second-half interceptions _ including one that was returned for a TD _ in last weekend's 33-21 road loss to Saskatchewan. Ottawa won both previous meetings, including a 26-23 victory on Aug. 7 with Cato under centre. The Redblacks have also earned victories in three of their previous four games and are 4-2 at home.
Pick - Ottawa
CALGARY at HAMILTON, FRIDAY
Hamilton's Jeff Mathews makes his first CFL start after throwing three interceptions versus Edmonton, including the two the Eskimos returned for TDs. Calgary can clinch a home playoff date with a win but will be without linebacker Juwan Simpson (clavicle) and defensive back Joe Burnett (ankle).
Pick - Calgary
EDMONTON at WINNIPEG, SATURDAY
Matt Nichols was 5-2 as Edmonton's starter this year after incumbent Mike Reilly (knee) was injured. Nichols has a good understanding of the Eskimos' defence but that unit also knows him well. Head coach Chris Jones's ability to be innovative in his pressure packages as the defensive co-ordinator gives the visitors an edge.
Pick - Edmonton
SASKATCHEWAN at B.C., SATURDAY
A crucial game for Saskatchewan, which is 0-2 this season against B.C. Tailback Jerome Messam anchored the Riders' win over Montreal with 111 yards rushing and a TD on 15 carries. B.C. counters with a defence that allows a league-high 127.6 yards rushing per game but Saskatchewan's unit gives up a CFL-worst 30.4 points per contest.
Pick - Saskatchewan
TORONTO at OTTAWA, TUESDAY
Toronto won't have home-field advantage but should be much fresher than an Ottawa squad that will be playing its third game in 10 days. An electrifying 87-yard punt return touchdown by Chad Owens highlighted the Argos' win last weekend. And although Henry Burris threw for 313 yards and two TDs in that contest, the Redblacks ran for just 50 yards on 15 attempts.
Pick - Toronto
Last week: 2-2.