PICKS

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - — Dan Barnes

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.

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