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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

CFL THIS WEEK PRESENTED BY DRAFTKINGS

WINNIPEG AT HAMILTON,
THURS 5:00 PM

It's been a short week for both teams they last played Friday night. Hamilton (1-1) is coming off a 25-point loss to B.C. while Winnipeg (0-2) dropped a 36-22 decision to Calgary. After dispatching Toronto 42-20 in the regular-season opener, the Ticats never got on track in their home opener as the Lions cemented the victory with 21 second-half points. Meanwhile, the Bombers have been outscored by a whopping 55-11 margin in the first three quarters of their two losses, prompting some fans in the Manitoba capital to call for head coach Mike O'Shea's departure. Not only will Hamilton be eager for redemption but it will have a rabid Tim Hortons Field gathering to feed off.

Pick - Hamilton
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TORONTO AT BC, THURSDAY 8:00 PM

It's been a triumphant return for Wally Buono. The five-time Grey Cup-winning head coach is back on the sidelines following a four-year absence and has B.C. (2-0) sitting atop the West Division. Linebacker Solomon Elimimian, the CFL's outstanding player in 2014, is back in the lineup after suffering a season-ending Achilles injury last year, It looks like Anthony Allen will start at running back with incumbent Jeremiah Johnson (ankle) ailing. Toronto (1-1) stayed in Regina this week following its 30-17 road win over the Riders but has had problems winning in Vancouver over the years.

Pick - B.C.
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CALGARY AT OTTAWA, FRIDAY 5:00 PM

It's Calgary's turn to find a way to contain Ottawa's high-power offence. The Redblacks (2-0) have scored 73 points with two different quarterbacks - Henry Burris and Trevor Harris. Burris, the CFL's outstanding player last year, is out with a hand injury but Harris leads the league in passing (687 yards) and TDs (six). The Stampeders (1-1) beat Winnipeg 36-22 last week to earn Dave Dickenson his first head-coaching win as Bo Levi Mitchell threw for 309 yards and two TDs. Mitchell will be a key figure in trying to keep Harris and Co. off the field and alleviate the pressure on the Stamps' defence.

Pick - Ottawa.
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SASKATCHEWAN AT EDMONTON, FRIDAY 8:00 PM

It's another Grey Cup rematch for Jason Maas.

Maas will be on the sidelines Friday night when the Edmonton Eskimos host the Saskatchewan Roughriders. It will mark the first time Maas matches wits with Chris Jones, the defensive guru who's now the Riders head coach/GM.

Jones served as Edmonton's head coach last season and led the squad to a Grey Cup victory over Ottawa. Maas was the Redblacks' offensive co-ordinator in 2015.

Edmonton opened its regular season dropping a 45-37 overtime decision at home to Ottawa on June 25 in Maas's head-coaching debut. The Eskimos (0-1) have had plenty of time to ponder that defeat as Friday's contest will be their first since facing Ottawa.

The Toronto Argonauts beat Saskatchewan 30-17 last week in Regina to spoil Jones' coaching debut with the Riders. And although Jones and Maas are head coaches, they also run their defence and offence, respectively.

But Jones won't be the only familiar face to Edmonton fans as 13 former Eskimos - eight coaches and five players - followed him to Saskatchewan (0-1). And they've got a big job rebuilding a team that posted a league-worst 3-15 record last year.

Jones' defence will face a tough challenge containing an Edmonton offence led by quarterback Mike Reilly. The Eskimos rolled up 442 total yards offensively against Ottawa with Reilly completing 28-of-40 passes for 383 yards and a TD.

Maas took over a unit that features proven pass-catchers like Derel Walker and Adarius Bowman. Walker, the CFL's top rookie last year, had seven catches for 149 yards while Bowman, the league's leading receiver last season, had nine catches for 106 yards.

But there's also the matter of facing a Jones-led defence. Jones is sometimes unconventional in his approach, be it bringing pressure from anywhere on the field or having defensive linemen drop back into pass coverage.

So it will be imperative that Edmonton protect Reilly and give him time to look downfield. But Reilly is also a threat to run so the Riders can't simply tee off and come after the veteran quarterback.

Let the chess match begin.

Pick - Edmonton.

Overall record: 1-7

(Canadian Press/Dan Ralph)

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