October 10, 2018

#TotalPickEm Preview | Talented Mr. Lulay

The Canadian Press photo

Can you smell that?

It’s the scent of the West Division playoff race heating up as we enter the final month of the regular season.

It’s also the scent of the race for $5,000 in #TotalPickEm picking up steam, as user broncodc6 continues to lead all players with a month left in the season.

Let’s take a look at the Week 18 matchups.

Friday | Hamilton (7-7) at Toronto (3-11)

On paper, Friday’s contest is a mismatch: A surging Ticats team — fresh off a bye, no less — paying a visit to a Toronto squad it’s already comfortably beaten twice.

But, this is the CFL: As the old saying goes, anything can happen and anyone can win.

The Argos will hand James Franklin a start for the first time since late July, in hopes of evaluating his viability as a starting option for 2019; will the ‘next one’ show the mettle required to earn the job moving forward?

Or will Jerry Glanville’s Ticat defence eat ’em raw?

PICK: Hamilton…because the Tabbies looked dominant against a BC team that’s objectively better than Toronto, and the Hamilton offence is objectively better at every skill position than Toronto’s.

Saturday | Saskatchewan (10-5) at Winnipeg (8-7)

Tough call, indeed.

The Riders offence once again stalled out against Edmonton last week, only for the defence to literally bail it out in the form of a Willie Jefferson pick-six with 90 seconds to play.

Winnipeg registered a character win in OT at Ottawa last week, and has won three games in a row — shooting back up the West Division standings in the process.

It’s a tough pick: Saskatchewan swept the Labour Day/Banjo series and is trending in the right direction, but the Bombers are playing significantly better football now.

PICK: Winnipeg…because there’s a lot more than prairie pride on the line for Mike O’Shea’s team, which is locked in a playoff dogfight, and Andrew Harris is in peak form.

Saturday | Ottawa (8-6) at Edmonton (7-7)

Talk about two teams in serious need of a bounce-back performance.

Ottawa played mediocre football for much of 60 minutes before a late-game comeback forced OT against Winnipeg; Edmonton’s offence has been kept out of the end zone in back-to-back games.

True, the teams are in different positions — Ottawa clinched and fighting for a playoff bye, Edmonton in dire need of a win in the uber-tight West Division — but both have something pretty hefty to play for.

PICK: Edmonton…because as ugly as the Esks’ offence has been the last two-plus outings, it’s unlikely to continue with the sheer number of playmakers they have on that side of the ball. Plus, streaks: Jason Maas’s squad has lost five of six after winning four of five, so they’re due.

Saturday | BC (7-7) at Calgary (12-2)

Look, we know Calgary is 14-2 at McMahon Stadium over the last two seasons.

We also know BC is a .500 team with a 1-6 record away from home.

Despite that, Wally Buono’s Lions are our upset pick this week; Travis Lulay is back, and he is a warrior his BC teammates are willing to follow into battle. Bruising running back Tyrell Sutton will also make his debut in orange, giving the Leos’ offence a revamped look.

Plus, Bo Levi Mitchell and the Stamps offence looked uncharacteristically bad in Montreal. Call it Calgary’s Quebec curse, or the weight of mounting receiver injuries taking their toll, but last week’s performance was uninspiring.

PICK: BC…because upsets do happen, the Lions ought to be rejuvenated with the return of their leader and the Stamps looked mortal last week in Montreal.

Week 17: 3-1

Season: 41-24 (.631)