The Canadian Football League season rolls into its second quarter this week with a quartet of entertaining matchups.
Before we dive in, a reminder that this #TotalPickEm column went 4-0 last week and is 16-3 overall on the season.
Thursday | Toronto at Calgary (9 p.m. ET)
Week 6 kicks off in Cowtown, where the Stamps (2-2) will look to get back into the win column as they play host to the Toronto Argonauts (0-4).
It’s been a middling start to the campaign for Dave Dickenson’s Calgary squad, which continues to be without QB Bo Levi Mitchell and RB Don Jackson. Backup Nick Arbuckle has looked decent in the former’s place, but it’s clear this is not the same juggernaut Stamps team we’ve become accustomed to seeing week-in, week-out over the last five years.
QB Nick Arbuckle will look to air it out in his third start for Calgary (Geoff Robins/CFL.ca)
Toronto, meanwhile, hasn’t seen much go right; QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson and shiny off-season signing Derel Walker found some serious chemistry in Winnipeg — after the Argos fell behind 31-0, and too late to reverse an eventual 48-21 loss.
PICK: Calgary, because the Stamps are still likely a playoff team and Toronto looked lost in the woods in the first half at Winnipeg last week.
Friday | Ottawa at Winnipeg (8:30 p.m. ET)
At face value, this week’s edition of Friday Night Football looks like two teams trending in different directions.
The REDBLACKS (2-2) have lost back-to-back games — including a 29-14 decision on home turf against these very same Bombers — while Winnipeg (4-0) is firing on all cylinders and enjoying its best start since 2003.
Matt Nichols has thrown 10 TDs against 1 INT thus far in 2019 (Patrick Doyle/CFL.ca)
Matt Nichols continues to be efficient, while Andrew Harris remains Andrew Harris for the Bombers; that continuity is not present in Ottawa, where former Winnipeg backup Dominique Davis has been ruled out for Friday’s contest — off-season addition Jonathon Jennings is slated to make his first start for the REDBLACKS on Friday.
PICK: Winnipeg, because the Bombers are the most consistent team in the CFL early in 2019, have a special vibe going at IG Field and Ottawa will likely be without some key pieces on defence.
Saturday | Edmonton at Montreal (4 p.m. ET)
With two clear favourites to begin the week, things get tricky on Saturday afternoon as the Esks (3-1) travel to Quebec to face the surging Alouettes (2-2) in Montreal.
Edmonton QB Trevor Harris earned Player of the Month honours for June, and has thrown eight TDs against zero interceptions; Montreal’s Vernon Adams Jr. electrified with both his arm (327 yards, 2 TDs) and legs (41 yards, 2 TDs) last week in Ottawa.
In previous years this would be considered a ‘trap game’ for Jason Maas’ Esks, but in 2019 the Als have looked every bit a playoff team in three of their first four contests and this looks like a relatively even matchup.
PICK: Montreal, because the team has a positive vibe around it for the first time in a long time, Vernon Adams has looked solid in consecutive outings and there might just be a bumper crowd on hand at Percival Molson on Saturday.
Saturday | BC at Saskatchewan (7 p.m. ET)
Another tricky call, the Battle of the West Basement has a lot on the line.
The Riders (1-3) will have had two full weeks to get rid of the stench of a 37-10 beatdown suffered at home against Calgary, and need to get back on track with Cody Fajardo at the helm.
Cody Fajardo and the Riders will aim to get back on track in front of their home fans (Arthur Ward/CFL.ca)
BC (1-4) is off to a difficult start, with QB Mike Reilly being sacked a league-high 3.4 times per game and the offence largely ineffective.
The two squads will meet in Regina in the Week 6 finale with a lot on the line; a win could boost one of them back into the playoff mix, but a loss could start a spiral down into the basement.
PICK: Saskatchewan, because the Riders D-line is due for a statement and BC’s O-line has done little to instill confidence thus far. A statement game for both of those units, and whichever side comes out on top in the trenches will earn the W.
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