STAMPEDERS #1: The Calgary Stampeders have stretched their unbeaten streak to seven games, but they'll have to handle a dangerous Hamilton Tiger-Cats squad this week if they want to keep it going.
On Sunday, Calgary (6-1-1) will host a Hamilton squad coming off a lopsided 53-7 home win over the Saskatchewan Roughriders. What makes the Tiger-Cats especially dangerous now is they have their offensive leader back.
Zach Collaros was a one-man show against Saskatchewan. In just his second start since returning from a serious knee injury, Collaros completed 23-of-30 passes for 381 yards and five TDs as Hamilton (4-4) rolled up an impressive 509 yards offensively with seven different receivers catching passes.
Collaros was 24-of-40 for 331 yards with two TDs in his 2016 debut, a 45-38 road loss to B.C. He'd been out since suffering his knee injury last September against Edmonton.
Hamilton opened the season 3-3 under backup Jeremiah Masoli, who for the most part performed admirably outside of two lopsided losses to Winnipeg.
But the Ticats were cruising with an 8-3 record under Collaros last season before his injury. Collaros was leading the CFL in passing (3,376 yards), TDs (25) and passer rating (113.7) with an impressive 70.2 completion percentage.
He also guided Hamilton to the 2014 Grey Cup, where the Ticats lost 20-16 to Calgary.
The Stampeders are currently the class of the CFL, especially after their 37-9 road win Friday night over the B.C. Lions (5-3). Calgary not only extended its unbeaten streak to seven games (6-0-1) but also improved to a stellar 6-1 within the West Division.
Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, the 2014 Grey Cup MVP, was 28-of-38 passing for 340 yards and two TDs. Mitchell is the CFL's second-leading passer (2,534) behind Edmonton's Mike Reilly (2,843) and the two have both thrown a league-leading 14 TD passes.
But Collaros and Co. will try to solve a Calgary defence that's allowing a league-low 20.1 points per game. The unit held B.C. to just three field goals last week while recording three sacks and two forced fumbles.
HARRIS RETURNS: Trevor Harris will be under centre Thursday when the Ottawa Redblacks face the B.C. Lions.
Harris suffered a right leg injury in Ottawa's 30-29 road loss to Saskatchewan on July 22. Veteran Henry Burris, the CFL's outstanding player last season, was pressed into action despite suffering a finger injury in the club's season-opening win over Edmonton.
The Redblacks (4-3-1) have dropped three of their last four yet still are atop the East Division.
Harris was the CFL's hottest quarterback prior to his injury with a completion average of 82 per cent. Harris, who threw a CFL-high 33 TD passes last season with Toronto, enters Thursday's contest with 1,499 yards passing and nine touchdowns with just one interception.
SECOND TIME THE CHARM?: Chris Jones makes his second trip to Edmonton this season hoping to fare better than he did the first time around.
Edmonton earned a 39-36 overtime win over Saskatchewan on July 8, Jones' first appearance in the Alberta city since he was hired as the Riders head coach/GM. Jones served as the Eskimos head coach last season, leading the club to a Grey Cup championship.
But the Riders and Eskimos are currently on opposite ends of the spectrum. Saskatchewan (1-6) is coming off a lopsided 53-7 road loss to Hamilton on Saturday and has dropped four straight while Edmonton defeated Toronto 46-23 at BMO Field on Saturday also for its second consecutive victory.
GREAT APPROACH: There's plenty to like about Mike Reilly.
The Edmonton Eskimos' star is not only one of the CFL's best quarterbacks but one of its toughest. But he's also a master of not taking himself too seriously.
Reilly opened Edmonton's 46-23 road win over Toronto on Saturday by throwing an interception that linebacker Keon Raymond returned 39 yards for the touchdown that stake the Argos to an 8-0 lead less than a minute in.
Reilly easily overcame the miscue, passing for 362 yards and three TDs but could only chuckle in explaining his opening pass.
"I threw a touchdown pass the first play of the game and that's generally a great omen,'' Reilly deadpanned. "Keon is a veteran guy, he jumped it and made a great play.
"It wasn't the greatest decision to throw but I'm not going to take anything away from him as well.''
RAY BACK?: The expectation is the Toronto Argonauts will have veteran quarterback Ricky Ray back when they resume their CFL schedule Aug. 31 hosting B.C.
Ray has missed the last three games recovering from a sprained knee. But Toronto removed him from the six-game injured list last week before its 46-23 home loss to Edmonton.
Ray didn't dress for that contest but will now have more time to prepare to face the Lions. Toronto was 1-2 with youngster Logan Kilgore under centre.
Kilgore had consecutive 300-yard passing performances his first two games but just 41 yards and two interceptions versus Edmonton before being replaced by rookie Cody Fajardo in the third quarter. Kilgore threw nine interceptions in his three starts, including five in a 34-17 home loss to Winnipeg on Aug. 4.