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The weather is starting to turn. I noticed it this week when I was scraping the frost off my windshield before I could head to work.
The good news is that this is playoff weather in the CFL and the playoff races are hitting a fever pitch. Although it’s a shortened 14 game season, the final six weeks feel just the same as they did in an 18 game season.
It’s all on the line now or by the time the playoffs roll around, you’ll be packing your bags to head home for the winter.
And the races are red hot. There are five teams with four or five wins and they’re all in the running to host a home playoff game.
This also means the teams are starting to even out. And yes, this is me telegraphing an excuse on how hard it is to accurately predict who the heck is going to win each week.
Complicating the matter is the three favourites this week as of me writing this are on the road. Yes, three home team underdogs…. great.
Winnipeg at Edmonton Friday, 9:00 p.m. ET
Taylor Cornelius is one of two QBs prepping for the Elks contest against the Bombers on Friday (GoElks.com)
The big news this week is the fact Trevor Harris has been demoted with the Elks. Jaime Elizondo says they need more out of the quarterback position and that Taylor Cornelius and Dakota Prukop will be their two quarterbacks preparing for the rematch against the Bombers.
It didn’t matter which quarterback took the ball in last week’s game, or many games against Winnipeg for that matter. No quarterback can move the ball against this defence and the Bombers offence just picks away until the dam breaks and all of a sudden a game the opponent felt like they were in turned into a blowout.
The Bombers get Kenny Lawler back from the team-imposed one game suspension and don’t look now but Andrew Harris has found his stride again out of the backfield. His yards per carry has grown from a season low four weeks ago of 4.4 to an impressive 6.3 last week.
Do I need to keep going?
PICK: WINNIPEG (100 confidence bonus)
Montreal at Ottawa Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET
It will be Matthew Shiltz behind centre this weekend against the Ottawa REDBLACKS (The Canadian Press)
The Ottawa REDBLACKS almost beat the Alouettes if it weren’t for an impressive final drive that Matthew Shiltz finished off with a Cameron Artis-Payne touchdown run.
Vernon Adams Jr.’s injury will not help the Alouettes, he does so much for the offence through the air and on the ground, but I don’t think Shiltz will be a big drop off. He can also move around and take off, as he did for a big gain in that game-winning drive but he also has shown (in limited action) a more accurate arm than Adams Jr.
Now, expect Mike Benevides, the defensive coordinator, to dial up a few different looks to keep Shiltz guessing but he’s been in the CFL for far too long to not be prepared for what could come.
The REDBLACKS need to stay committed to the run and it was a nice debut for De’Lance Turner, albeit they probably could have ran him a few more times after averaging over seven yards a carry.
Caleb Evans is showing signs the game is slowing down but he’s still clearly a raw rookie.
I also think a third game in 10 days for Ottawa is eventually going to wear on them.
PICK: MONTREAL (50 confidence bonus)
Calgary at BC Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Michael Reilly and his Lions will be looking for a win against the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday night (Jimmy Jeong/CFL.ca)
This is the game of the week, in my opinion, with so much on the line for both teams as they’ve chased down Saskatchewan to get into reach of leapfrogging the Riders for second spot in the West.
The Stampeders have woken up since their bye week and the Lions are hoping to do the same after their own week away.
The matchup would usually be dubbed as the two top quarterbacks in the league going head to head with Michael Reilly and Bo Levi Mitchell but both are a work in progress to regain their MOP ability.
The BC Lions are coming in on a two-game losing streak, while the Stamps two-game win streak has them right in the thick of the West Division race.
The Lions without Lucky Whitehead will be a completely different team in how they attack defences and they rely on the pass more so than any other team in the league. It may be time to rely more on the run game and wear down the Calgary defence.
The way I’m going with this game is the BC Lions defence is fantastic at taking away the ball. They’re second only to Winnipeg. Calgary is the worst at giving up the ball.
It’s those types of intangibles that will make the difference in what should be a close and hard fought game.
PICK: BC (0 confidence bonus)
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