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Week 19 has a battle at the top of the West Division to finish off a week that also has three games that feature teams playing for pride against teams gearing up for the playoffs.
Friday night begins in Montreal with the Alouettes knowing they’re locked into second in the East Division, while the Toronto Argonauts are playing out the string.
The Argos could showcase a few new faces. The Alouettes have lost three of their last five and would like to get a lot more consistent with the playoffs around the corner.
The second half of Friday’s double header is in BC. The Lions can play spoiler with the Roughriders in town in the midst of a fight for first place with Calgary and Winnipeg in the West Division.
Danny O’Brien will get his first start with Mike Reilly out with a wrist injury. So it should be an inspired effort from the Lions quarterback.
The Riders will likely be more inspired knowing a win is necessary to keep pace at the top of the division.
Saturday’s doubleheader starts in Hamilton with the Tiger-Cats trying to win their 13th of the season, which would be a franchise high.
The Ottawa REDBLACKS will give Will Arndt his second start of the season after last week’s loss to the Argos.
And the week finishes off with the game of the week. The 10-5 Stampeders hosting the 10-6 Winnipeg Blue Bombers. If the Bombers have any hope of getting first in the West they need a win this weekend in Calgary.
The Stampeders are showing they’re still the class of the West after a 30-28 win over the Riders last weekend.
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Toronto at Montreal Friday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Favourite: Montreal (-10.5)
O/U: 53.5 points
Montreal will look to defeat the Argonauts on Friday night at home (The Canadian Press)
Making picks this time of the year is a nightmare because you just don’t know which non-playoff teams will be playing at a high level and who will go through the motions ahead of a long off-season.
The flip side of that is which team in the playoffs that already know their spot, like the Alouettes, will take it easy on some key players to be healthy for the post-season.
All I know is this: Montreal is a better team and are playing on home turf.
Can the Riders get a win to keep pace in the West? (The Canadian Press)
Don’t think for a second the Roughriders are going to take it easy on the BC Lions. Every time the Riders have played a team struggling to find their way, they’ve dominated them. That includes two games early on in the season against the Lions.
Danny O’Brien will lead the Lions into his first start of the season and will be a lot more prepared than he looked last week with more reps in practice.
I fear, however, O’Brien won’t look back on this start all too kindly after it’s over.
PICK: SASKATCHEWAN (90 confidence bonus)
Ottawa at Hamilton Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET
Favourite: Hamilton (-17.5)
O/U: 51.5 points
Hamilton will hope Tyrell Sutton will continue to make an impact against the REDBLACKS (Johany Jutras/CFL.ca)
Will Arndt gets his second straight start for the REDBLACKS. It’ll be interesting to see how the young quarterback looks in his second start as he gets time to self evaluate and prepare again.
This time, however, he’ll play a much stronger defence as the Tiger-Cats have been arguably the best this season. The Tabbies defence are the league’s best in opposing QB completion percentage and QB efficiency.
The Tiger-Cats will look to get their offence better in tune with Tyrell Sutton getting further and further incorporated in the offence since he arrived a few weeks ago.
The Bombers meanwhile found their secret recipe for success with Chris Streveler at quarterback; running the ball.
The combo of Streveler and Andrew Harris ran for over 200-yards against the Montreal Alouettes. Streveler’s passing numbers again weren’t impressive but the Bombers controlled the line of scrimmage for a big win to stay in the conversation for the top spot in the West.
The biggest need for the Bombers to win this one on the road is their defence. Willie Jefferson and company will need to make life a lot more difficult for Mitchell than what the Riders did last week.