The Canadian Press
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The race to the CFL playoffs is on.
There are three playoff races to keep an eye on as Winnipeg can clinch the West Division with a win this weekend.
The race for second in the West is going to be extremely intriguing and it really gets to a whole new level this weekend with Calgary and Saskatchewan, while BC will need to pull off some big upsets down the stretch to stay in the conversation.
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Of course the race for first in the East is also extremely intriguing and the Alouettes can go a long way to hosting that final if they can beat Toronto this weekend.
And then from there it’s a fight for the rest of the playoff spots with Hamilton and BC potentially in a fight for the crossover spot but the Montreal Alouettes are still in the mix there as well, depending on what happens on Friday.
Almost every game from here on out will have playoff implications for one of the teams.
Toronto at Montreal
Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET
The Argonauts had a week off riding a three-game winning streak as they climbed to the top of the East Division standings. Now, it’s about holding off the charge that will come from Montreal and Hamilton.
The last time out, the Montreal Alouettes had Vernon Adams Jr. at quarterback but the Alouettes handed the game to the Argonauts with two interceptions and lost fumble. Those points were the difference in a three point game.
Now the Alouettes don’t have Vernon Adams Jr. and the Argonauts defence should be better after giving up over 500 yards in the last meeting. Defensive consultant Chris Jones will continue to instill his aggressive and fast defence.
The Argonauts do have one lacking aspect to their game and that is running the ball, while the ground game has been a staple for the Alouettes and Friday looks to be a potential for a wet day in Montreal.
Do you think Matthew Shiltz will have something to prove to the coaching staff after the team acquired Trevor Harris?
PICK: MONTREAL (25 confidence bonus)
Ottawa at Hamilton
Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET
There is no question that the Tiger-Cats know what is ahead of them after losing back to back games to the Argonauts and Alouettes. They’ve all of a sudden found themselves drop from first to third over the last three weeks.
Now that the team is back from a bye week, they are starting to look healthy as Dane Evans has been lifted off the six-game injured list and while he may not play right away, it’s another move to the Ticats to putting their best team on the field.
On the other side of the field is a team trying to find some spark. The REDBLACKS got a bit from Caleb Evans initially in his first start of the season but he’s been struggling to find that same level of play. This will be another extremely tough matchup in a tough environment for the raw rookie on Saturday.
PICK: HAMILTON (100 confidence bonus)
BC at Winnipeg
Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET
A month ago it looked like the BC Lions were finding their stride. They won three-straight games and were starting to grab the wheel in the race to second in the West. Then losses to Saskatchewan, Winnipeg and Calgary have placed the Lions in chase mode and as they look around them, all of a sudden they have to be pressed to improve their game quickly or they’ll find themselves out of the playoffs entirely.
This is not a great time to take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who continue to role through their season.
An injury to Andrew Harris again leaves the Bombers looking to their younger Canadian running backs to pick up the slack but we’ve already seen Brady Oliveira is ready for the challenge.
I’m looking at the Bombers game to find a trend that would spell that this team is about to be upset. They did allow four sacks last week against Edmonton as the Jermarcus Hardrick injury throws their offensive line into a bit of a shuffle. However, BC hasn’t registered a sack in two-straight games.
While I think the betting line will be covered by the Lions, I don’t see them escaping Winnipeg with a win.
PICK: WINNIPEG (75 confidence bonus)
Saskatchewan at Calgary
Saturday, 9:45 p.m. ET
Well, if the last two games between these teams show us anything, we’re about to see a heck of a conclusion to Saturday’s tripleheader.
The Stampeders have won by six and four points respectively over their rival and the Roughriders will be seeking revenge and control of second place in the West Division.
The Riders appear to be getting Shaq Evans and Duke Williams into the lineup and for a team that has been talking a lot about improving the deep threat passing game, those two will definitely go a long way to improving that.
The issue for the Riders is the offensive line has been tested by the Stamps and Cody Fajardo isn’t getting a lot of time to find his receivers down field.
The Stampeders ran all over the Riders in Saskatchewan with Ka’Deem Carey, as the Stampeders running back has run for 254 yards in the last three games. The Stamps are finding their run game just in time for some cooler weather football.
While my head says pick the Stamps, who have proven they have the upper hand in this rivalry, I would hope pride will play into this one and the Riders leaders like Micah Johnson, Ed Gainey and especially Cody Fajardo will want to deliver a counter punch to prove they’re in control of the race to host the Western Semi-Final.
PICK: SASKATCHEWAN (50 confidence bonus)