October 13, 2022

Weekly Predictor: Believing in the Edmonton Elks

Jason Halstead/CFL.ca

Ottawa’s win on Thanksgiving Monday has added a whole new wrinkle to the playoff race as they proved they can beat Montreal and now they have them at home on a short week.

A win for the REDBLACKS means both the Riders and the Tiger-Cats have to be watching the Bob Dyce-led team over their shoulders for the final playoff spot!

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It adds a lot of intrigue to a weekend that also means a lot for the Stamps, Lions, Argos and Alouettes.

I’m also feeling curious about how many unexpected results we could see down the stretch with so many teams still playing for playoff spots or playoff positions.

Also, who exactly will Winnipeg play in the games ahead as they gear up for the playoffs?

Montreal at Ottawa
Friday, 7:00 p.m. ET

The Montreal Alouettes will look to beat the Ottawa REDBLACKS this week in the second half of a home-and-home (The Canadian Press)

Credit to the REDBLACKS, whose defence bent but didn’t break as the Alouettes had to settle for field goals, while Nick Arbuckle played a very straight forward and simple game plan with a new play caller in place.

What I noticed immediately after the win was the enthusiasm the players had for Bob Dyce winning in his first game after the coaching change. I don’t think that says anything about the former coach as much as it shows the respect Bob commands and deserves within a locker room. I saw it in Saskatchewan when Bob took over mid-season.

With a quick turnaround for both teams, the biggest question will be who can suit up with just three full days between games? One will be a light practice, followed by a walkthrough and then game day on Friday. As you can see, not a lot of prep time.

I’d say the edge goes to the Alouettes as they appeared to come out of Monday’s loss a lot more healthy than the REDBLACKS, who saw stars on both sides of the ball have to leave.

There was also a lot of emotion built up as that game went on and I’m sure it’ll spill over into Friday’s game as well.

Ottawa is playing for playoff lives, while Montreal is just trying to lock up home field and keep first place open as a possibility.

The other factor I see here is William Stanback gearing up each and every week. I’d expect a heavy dose of No. 31 coming Ottawa’s way on Friday and with so many injuries, a sweep will be tough for the REDBLACKS.

PICK: MONTREAL (50 confidence bonus)

Hamilton at Calgary
Friday, 9:45 p.m. ET

Jake Maier and the Stamps hope to get a win over the Tiger-Cats this weekend at McMahon Stadium (Dave Chidley/CFL.ca)

The Tiger-Cats came back to win a huge game against the Roughriders, saving themselves and Ottawa’s playoff hopes as Saskatchewan is trying to sneak over the East Division. While the game didn’t start off too hot and Dane Evans struggled, Wes Hills provided the hammer the Tiger-Cats needed to drive home the victory last week.

The Tiger-Cats defence is still a strong group and could get stronger if Simoni Lawrence can be healthy enough to return to the lineup. He was a full participant in practice last week and started the week that way again.

However, the Tiger-Cats are in tough this week. I know the Bombers ruined my ‘never pick against the Stamps after a bye week’ theory earlier this season but the Bombers ruin all their opponents hopes and dreams.

So, I’m going back to the theory before the loss to the Bombers. The Stamps hadn’t lost a game at home following a bye week in the regular season since 2005, when they lost a Week 2 opener to Toronto at McMahon following a Week 1 bye.

Yeah, the Bombers ended a lengthy streak.

I doubt the Tiger-Cats make it two-straight, although if Wes Hills can keep running like he did last week, the Tiger-Cats can do a lot of damage down the stretch.

PICK: CALGARY (90 confidence bonus)

Toronto at Edmonton
Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET

Can the Edmonton Elks get their first win of the season at home against the Toronto Argonauts? (GoElks.com)

The Toronto Argonauts are closing in on clinching the East for the second-straight season. Depending on what happens on Friday, they could clinch it at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday.

The Argos impressed in last week’s game against BC Lions, although they did need a rare miss by Sean Whyte to avoid going to overtime.

My big concern for the Argos is still being too one dimensional coming into this time of the year when running the ball as the weather cools off becomes more and more important. A.J. Ouellette was starting to improve but the Lions held him in check.

Now, they do take on the statistically worst team against the run, but the Elks can say their struggling run defence is taking on the worst run attack in the league. Who will prevail?

The Elks went to Winnipeg and got schooled by the league’s best last week and now that the playoffs are out of sight, it’s time to see who steps up for Chris Jones to evaluate for next season.

I don’t know why, maybe it’s too much turkey, gravy, pumpkin pie and whipped cream … but with Taylor Cornelius able to ad lib plays and some new faces in Edmonton that already trying and have proven themselves, I feel like if there is going to be an upset this weekend, it’s in Edmonton.

PICK: EDMONTON (0 confidence bonus)

Winnipeg at BC
Saturday, 10:00 p.m. ET

Vernon Adams Jr. and co. are looking to defeat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at home this weekend (The Canadian Press)

Okay, this will be complete guess work on my behalf to predict what happens to Winnipeg down the stretch. They’ve sealed off first place and we do have recent precedence to base what Mike O’Shea may plan to do this time around.

Last year, the Bombers had first place all wrapped up late in the year and in their final two games of the season they rested a lot of starters in the first game and split the quarterbacks in the second game.


The Bombers also didn’t have a bye week shoved between those games before having a bye week for the Division Semi-Final weekend.

I’d expect the Bombers rest players this week, go on a bye and come back to play Zach Collaros and crew for a half of the season finale like they did last year. Why? Because if it worked last year, why not do it this year. REST IS BEST!

Also, the BC Lions are still trying to keep up with the Calgary Stampeders for that home playoff game. The Lions own the season series over Calgary so if they can win out, then they get to host the Western Semi-Final.

The Lions have to shake off that disappointing loss to Toronto and have Vernon Adams Jr. continue to settle into the new surroundings in Vancouver.

You also don’t like the injuries mounting in the receiving corps for the Lions as it’s clear Adams has less big play options at receiver but Rhymes and Hatcher are talented enough to be one-two quality receivers.

What Vernon Adams Jr. has to do is not make the mistakes that allow the Bombers to take advantage.

The Bombers lost their final two games of the season last year as resting players and going with backup quarterbacks hurt them, but also, it’s hard to play full tilt when you know the biggest game of the year isn’t this one. It’ll be on November 13 in Winnipeg.

PICK: BC (50 confidence bonus)

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