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The playoff picture is getting clearer, in terms of the six teams who will make the post-season.
The highlight of Week 17, however, is the battle at the top of the West Division with Winnipeg visiting Saskatchewan.
Up for grabs is first place in the division as well as the season tiebreaker with the two teams splitting their first two games of the year. The Riders rolled last week, while the Bombers got rolled.
Quarterback Chris Streveler needs to start playing much better to convince Bomber faithful Winnipeg is still a Grey Cup favourite without Matt Nichols. So far they are 2-3 with Streveler behind centre.
Of the possible Grey Cup matchups, there is the potential we could see a Grey Cup preview this week with the Calgary Stampeders visiting the Montreal Alouettes.
Vernon Adams Jr. is back after his one game suspension. We’re pretty sure the Stampeders might have some revenge on their mind after the crazy comeback the Alouettes pulled off earlier in the season in Calgary.
And how about the potential of the Eastern Final with Hamilton hosting the Edmonton Eskimos? With the likelihood that Edmonton crosses over, that’s a strong possibility.
Edmonton will have a tough match up on the road as Dane Evans and the Tiger-Cats are No. 1 in the standings and with quality play on their western road swing, are easily a favourite to appear in November’s Grey Cup.
The final game of the week may be meaningless in the standings if Edmonton and Montreal win their games before kickoff but the BC Lions have a chance to shock the world if Edmonton does fall in Hamilton. The Lions need to win out and have the Eskimos lose out. BC hopes they have something to play for against Toronto on Saturday night.
Edmonton at Hamilton
Friday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Favourite: Hamilton (-6.5)
O/U: 46.5 points
Logan Kilgore needs to step up his game if the Eskimos want to stay in the conversation out west, let alone clinch a playoff spot.
Kilgore has been sacked eight times, which is the same amount of times Trevor Harris had been sacked in the first 10 games of the season. So it’s not only Kilgore’s play that has impacted the Eskimos. All phases haven’t played to the standard they set at the beginning of the season.
Hamilton is finally home after a long three game western road trip and they come home in top spot in the CFL. Dane Evans continues to get better and shows command of the Tiger-Cats offence. Oh, and their defence is darn good as well.
PICK: HAMILTON (75 confidence bonus)
Calgary at Montreal
Saturday 4:00 p.m. ET
Favourite: Calgary (-2.5)
O/U: 51.5 points
The Stampeders are coming off a bye week and they are 13-1 after a bye in the regular season and playoffs since Bo Levi Mitchell became the starting quarterback. It’s as close to automatic as Montreal losing in BC (two wins in their last 20 trips to Vancouver).
I think the Alouettes will find some life with Vernon Adams Jr. back at quarterback. Their losses of late have been with Adams either injured or suspended. William Stanback looked like his dominate self again last week in BC, which is a good sign heading down the stretch.
The Stampeders defence has locked it down recently with the hiccup against the Alouettes five weeks ago being the only game allowing a offence to score over 20 points since Week 3.
While Bo Levi Mitchell hasn’t been his usually dominate and mistake free quarterback we’ve usually seen, this Alouettes defence doesn’t apply too much pressure on the quarterback or force turnovers.
PICK: CALGARY (25 confidence bonus)
Winnipeg at Saskatchewan
Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Favourite: Saskatchewan (-5.5)
O/U: 47.5 points
The news of Matt Nichols being lost for the season happened the day before the Blue Bombers got beat up by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Timing couldn’t have been worse for Chris Streveler, who didn’t show well on a night he was hoping to ease doubts the Bombers could win without Nichols.
Streveler’s passing has to improve as he’s thrown six touchdowns to eight interceptions. As defences adjust to the double running threat with Streveler and Harris, they’re going to force Streveler to beat him with his arm.
Meanwhile, the Roughriders came off their bye week and looked refreshed and they’re getting healthier as those around them are losing key pieces. All-Star Brendon LaBatte is back on the offensive line, defensive tackle Zack Evans is closing in on a return and Charleston Hughes only had to miss one game with an injury. Now they add last season’s West Division Most Outstanding Rookie Jordan Williams-Lambert to the receiving corps and you’re seeing a very deep roster going into the final stretch.
PICK: SASKATCHEWAN (65 confidence bonus)
Toronto at BC
Saturday, 10:00 p.m. ET
Favourite: BC (-9.5)
O/U: 50.5 points
As of this writing we don’t know who is starting at quarterback for the Argonauts. James Franklin did not perform well in his return. With rumblings teams are calling on Toronto for possible QB help, they have a chance to showcase someone in Vancouver on Saturday with the trade deadline next week.
The BC Lions escaped with a win thanks to a goal line fumble by Montreal. If Hamilton wins on Friday night, they’ll have even more motivation for a big performance to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
But it’s been a three game win streak for the Lions and they’re building confidence and play a team lacking it.
PICK: BC (80 confidence bonus)
Week 17 lineup: