Wednesday, August 16, 2017
WEEK 9 CFL PICKS 2017
EDMONTON at WINNIPEG, THURSDAY
(Eskimos favoured by 1.o)
The Edmonton Eskimos and Winnipeg Blue Bombers have made a habit of winning close games this season.
The unbeaten Eskimos (7-0) have won four games by four points or less and another by just five points. Winnipeg (5-2) is 3-1 in contests decided by four points or less.
Edmonton visits Winnipeg on Thursday night in the first of two head-to-head meetings between the West Division rivals.
Both teams come in on win streaks. Edmonton is the CFL's only unbeaten squad while Winnipeg had captured its last three games, all against East Division competition.
The Eskimos continue winning despite having an injured list filled with proven performers. Starting centre Justin Sorensen and leading receiver Brandon Zylstra both missed Edmonton's 27-20 win over Ottawa last week, as did slotback Adarius Bowman - the CFL's top receiver last year - running backs Travon Van, John White and Kendial Lawrence, offensive lineman Simeon Rottier, linebacker J.C. Sherritt and kicker Sean Whyte.
Quarterback Matt Nichols leads a potent Winnipeg offence that's first in offensive points scored (31.6 per game) and second in touchdowns (24) despite being ranked seventh in net yards (361.8 per game) and passing yards (294.6) and eighth in time of possession (29:02).
Defensively, Winnipeg is ranked a distant eighth in offensive points allowed (29.9 per game) and seventh in net offence (380.4) and passing yards (324.3). But the unit has forced 14 turnovers (one behind league leaders B.C. and Calgary) and stands second in sacks (20) while defensive back Justin Heath is tied for the league lead with four interceptions.
OTTAWA at HAMILTON, FRIDAY
(RedBlacks favoured by 3.5)
Ottawa (1-6-1) is 0-5-1 in games decided by four points or less and has lost three straight. Quarterback Trevor Harris leads the CFL in passing (2,468 yards) and TDs (16) while Greg Ellingson remains the league's leading receiver (48 catches, 749 yards, five touchdowns). It's been a miserable existence for Hamilton (0-7), which is scoring a league-low 15.4 offensive points per game while allowing a CFL-high 39 points.
CALGARY at B.C., FRIDAY
(Stampeders favoured by 4.5)
Fatigue shouldn't be a factor for Calgary (5-1-1), which last played Aug. 3 in a 41-24 road win over Toronto. The Stampeders have scored a CFL-high 29 TDs while allowing a league-low 19 offensive points per game. And returner Roy Finch is a big-play threat on special teams. B.C. (5-3) never got on track in its 41-8 loss to Saskatchewan on Sunday as starter Jonathon Jennings threw three interceptions in his return under centre before being replaced by veteran Travis Lulay.
MONTREAL at TORONTO, SUNDAY
(No line set)
Montreal (3-4) can clinch the season series with a sweep of this home-and-home set after last week's 21-9 home victory. That makes the Alouettes the only East Division team not on a losing streak. Toronto (3-5) has dropped three straight but starter Ricky Ray is expected back after missing last week's game with a shoulder injury. Ray is crucial to coach Marc Trestman's pass-first offence and having him back under centre would be huge for an Argos team that needs a win to keep pace the conference.
Last week: 2-2
(Canadian Press/Dan Ralph)