FRIDAY AT 5 P.M.
Hamilton (8-7) at Ottawa (8-7)
An Eastern Final harbinger features a pair of 8-7 teams headed in opposite directions. The Tabbies have won two straight while the Redblacks have dropped two in a row. But short trend lines like those don’t always hold and in this case Ottawa’s biggest problem of late has been stopping the run. Coincidentally, Hamilton doesn’t have much of a ground game. They do have the sensational throw-and-catch duo of Jeremiah Masoli and Brandon Banks and you’d have to take them over their Ottawa counterparts Trevor Harris and his top two receivers in Brad Sinopoli and Greg Ellingson, but it’s oh so close. Hamilton’s defence gets the edge, but the Redblacks have better special teams. Ticats by 3.
FRIDAY AT 8 P.M.
Edmonton (8-8) at B.C. (8-7) With playoff implications up the wazoo on both sides, these teams should be going for the jugular. That said, the squad with more firepower, or perhaps a stronger killer instinct, ought to emerge victorious. Edmonton has the more potent offence and B.C. the more opportunistic defence. Special teams edge probably goes to B.C. as well, based on the kicking/punting prowess of Ty Long and the occasionally explosive return man Chris Rainey. The Lions are also a strong home team and the Eskimos not nearly as proficient on the road. It sounds most like a B.C. win, but Mike Reilly looked more like himself last week behind an offensive line that gave him time to distribute the ball. So that’s a consideration. The Leos are fresh off a win for Wally Buono in Calgary and that momentum is also a factor. B.C. by 3.
SATURDAY AT 2 P.M.
Montreal (3-12) at Toronto (3-12)
The Toilet Bowl usually airs with a viewer discretion warning, but this one might actually be entertaining if strong-armed QBs Johnny Manziel of the Als and the Argos’ James Franklin trade long bombs all evening. TSN’s on-air crew will undoubtedly try their best to inject life into this Canadian broadcasting corpse, but if it’s a defensive struggle, there will be virtually no way to get excited about two teams already six feet deep and already looking ahead to next year. It should be a dead heat, but we’ll call it Montreal by 2.
SATURDAY AT 5 P.M.
Saskatchewan (10-6) at Calgary (12-3)
This could very well be the Western Final preview, though both teams are coming off significant losses and the division picture is a total jumble. The Riders were pummelled by Winnipeg while the Stamps suffered a rare home loss to B.C. and both decisions exposed cracks in the offensive foundations of the teams with the league’s best records. The Riders’ offence is a thin bowl of gruel in the somewhat shaky hands of QB Zach Collaros. Bo Levi Mitchell’s completion percentage has fallen to 60 and the Stamps continue to show the result of injuries to Kamar Jorden, DaVaris Daniels, Reggie Begelton, Marken Michel and Terry Williams. The Riders have already beaten Calgary this year, but the Stamps rarely lose two in a row. Calgary by 4.