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Week 20 gives more intrigue into the race in the West with home playoff games on the line.
The Friday night game features the second half of the home-and-home set with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and it could be Zach Collaros making his Bomber debut against the Stamps.
Winnipeg was every bit into the game last week in Calgary and will look to take the season series and hope the Stamps falter to BC in the final week to get a home playoff game.
The Stamps can clinch at least second in the West with a win.
The tripleheader on Saturday features the Saskatchewan Roughriders meeting the Edmonton Eskimos for the first time of the season and the first half of a home-and-home set to wrap up the season.
The Riders will be cheering on the Bombers again this week to try and get the upper hand on first place in the West, while the Edmonton Eskimos welcome back Trevor Harris at quarterback as they need to start finding their stride before they head to Montreal for the Eastern Semi-Final in two weeks.
The other two games don’t matter in the standings but they’ll be playing for pride in Toronto with the Argos hosting the REDBLACKS. It’ll be interesting to see which players get some chances to play and get a shot at proving their roster spot for next year and be part of the solution for both these organizations.
The game that kicks off the tripleheader is a possible Eastern Final preview with Montreal and Hamilton. Both sides may elect to keep a player or two out of the lineup before the season finale next week.
It’s the age old debate: rest or reps before the playoffs. And both sides will want to keep things close to the vest before they possibly meet in a far more important game in a couple of weeks.
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Calgary at Winnipeg
Friday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Favourite: Calgary (-2.5)
O/U: 48.5 points
This is the Bombers final tune up before the playoffs as they have the bye week next week to finish the season. So if there is a possibility of a quarterback change before the Western Semi-Final, they need to see Zach Collaros before making the final call.
Bo Levi Mitchell and co. are still very much in a dog fight with the Roughriders for first place in the West so they are still very much playing highly motivated football to host that Western Final once again.
The Stamps are working on finding a run game going into the playoffs.
While it’s hard to win both in back to back games, the instability at quarterback right now in Winnipeg has mean leaning to Calgary staying hot.
PICK: CALGARY (30 confidence bonus)
Hamilton at Montreal
Saturday, 1:00 p.m. ET
Favourite: Hamilton (-2.5)
O/U: 53.5 points
I’ll be keeping a close eye on the depth charts on Friday to see how the rosters shape up for both teams.
With both teams wanting to keep momentum going into the playoffs, you’d expect to keep seeing a lot of the starters in the game and see more players rested in the final week of the season.
It’s also a chance to send a message with the potential of this being the Eastern Final. There has been a lot of moving parts for both teams injury wise in the last couple of weeks and finding more is also a priority.
All in all, I’m not clear what we’ll see on Saturday but hopefully it’s every bit of a growing rivalry among the top two teams in the East Division.
PICK: HAMILTON (10 confidence bonus)
Ottawa at Toronto
4:00 p.m. ET
Favourite: Toronto (-5.5)
O/U: 52.5 points
This matchup features two teams with a lot of players who showed well last week in difficult situations as they made things a little more interesting than what people had expected.
While this is in the ‘meaningless’ category, both coaches were able to get their players going for last week’s games and I don’t expect anything different this time around.
There may be an injection of some new faces and that adds some energy to the roster.
You never know in these type of games when you see the glimmer of a new impact player.
PICK: TORONTO (50 confidence bonus)
Saskatchewan at Edmonton
7:00 p.m. ET
Favourite: Edmonton (-1.5)
O/U: 48.5 points
The Riders finish off a three game road trip through the west as setting up a hockey rink has taken up Mosaic Stadium.
We’ll see if the road weary Riders can hold back the home town Eskimos, who are coming off a bye week. Trevor Harris is back practicing and likely to play to get settled in at QB before the playoffs.
There is no debate that Harris will bring far more efficiency to the Eskimos offence and are a threat to knock of the Riders, who wanted more from their effort in BC last week.
Cody Fajardo has a new contract but said all the right things this week that he’s not thinking about the future any more with a big game to play in the race for first in the West with Calgary.
While I usually go with the team who has much more to play for, I think if Harris returns the Eskimos get a jolt of enthusiasm and they have something to prove as many are counting them out after a strong start to the season.
PICK: EDMONTON (10 confidence bonus)
Week 20 lineup: