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After every game came down to the wire last week, there are some great matchups this week across the country.
It starts off with the game of the week as the top two teams in the West Division face off. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers (5-2) host the Calgary Stampeders (5-2) on Thursday.
In order to be the best you have to beat the best and this is the first chance for the Bombers to face the team that ended their season in the Western Final last year. The Bombers, however, have struggled of late and are coming off the biggest upset of the season when Toronto edged them last week.
The Stampeders have climbed to top spot in many power rankings and with a tough road trip can once again flex their muscle by taking sole spot of first place despite some big injuries to start the season.
The Friday night double header starts in Montreal with the 3-3 Alouettes and the 4-3 Roughriders. The Alouettes and Riders have been two of the hottest teams in the league with the Alouettes winning three of their last four and the Riders winning four of their last five.
Both teams have an excellent chance to keep pace with first place in their division, while some still have many question if these teams should be in the contender status or not.
The second half of the double header sees Trevor Harris and other former REDBLACKS take on Ottawa for the first time this season.
While Ottawa is coming off an emotional win over Montreal, the Eskimos are coming off an equally emotional loss to the Calgary Stampeders.
Ottawa’s Dominique Davis has to feel a little bit like Trevor Harris when he faced Mike Reilly for the first time. Davis wants to prove he’s got a bigger upside than a veteran like Harris who has adjusted well to being in Edmonton.
And the final game of the week has the BC Lions coming off their bye week to take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
The Lions have auditioned offensive linemen to improve the protection and what a test against the Tiger-Cats tenacious defence. Simoni Lawrence also returns from suspension.
The BC Lions are slipping away in the playoff picture with every other Western team above .500 to start the season.
Hamilton’s new No. 1 quarterback Dane Evans has to have a much stronger start than the one in Saskatchewan or the Tiger-Cats are in danger of giving BC’s defence a little confidence. On the flip side, the Lions do face one of the top three defences in the league.
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Calgary at Winnipeg
Thursday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Favourite: Winnipeg (-7.5)
O/U: 48.5 points
The Stampeders are coming in hot after a big win against the Edmonton Eskimos. While Nick Arbuckle isn’t lighting the CFL on fire with his play, he’s managing the game enough to keep the Stampeders winning until Bo Levi Mitchell returns.
But this week the Stampeders face a team who will be highly motivated to respond after a loss to Toronto. And they get to show the rest of the league they can beat the Calgary Stampeders after losing in the Western Final last season.
Winnipeg has so many weapons, they may have the most explosive arsenal in the league. However, Matt Nichols has been having problems getting that big play to spark the team recently.
I still can’t believe a few of the wins by the Stampeders so far this season. They’re shorthanded but keep winning.
PICK: WINNIPEG (35 confidence bonus)
Saskatchewan at Montreal
Friday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Favourite: Saskatchewan (-2.5)
O/U: 51.5 points
You can tell by their play that the Alouettes are seeing eye to eye with head coach Khari Jones. The same story goes with the Riders and Craig Dickenson.
Three of the four rookie head coaches have their teams moving in the right directions and this game features two of them.
Belief is a big thing and you can feel the confidence growing from the Riders as Cody Fajardo, William Powell and Shaq Evans become stars. While injuries have plagued the Alouettes offence the defence has more than stood their ground to have the Alouettes climb the East Division standings.
PICK: MONTREAL (15 confidence bonus)
Ottawa at Edmonton
Friday, 10:00 p.m. ET
Favourite: Edmonton (-8.5)
O/U: 48.5 points
I think we could see another Trevor Harris showcase as he plays his former team for the first time. It’s no ill will at the REDBLACKS but Harris has already played well against Mike Reilly to showcase to Edmonton that Harris can air it out to.
Ottawa has scratched and clawed their way to a 3-3 record but I do think something is missing in Ottawa. The big playmakers are missing and they relied on some sloppy play by Montreal to stick around in the game in the second half.
With so many talking about Trevor Harris, don’t ignore the Eskimos defence. They are a strong group of 12 and are No. 1 in both points allowed and yards allowed.
PICK: EDMONTON (75 confidence bonus)
BC at Hamilton
7:00 p.m. ET
Favourite: Hamilton (-11.5)
O/U: 51.5 points
The BC Lions have a tough test against a very strong defensive group from Hamilton. Protecting Mike Reilly continues to plague the Lions but after a trade and a bye week you have to see it to believe it in regards to whether or not things have changed up front for BC.
Dane Evans wasn’t great to start his first of the season. But as he settled in the better he got. If he settles in on Saturday, the Lions could be in for another head ache of a season.
PICK: HAMILTON (50 confidence bonus)
Week 9 lineup: