STAMPEDERS (7-2) at ESKIMOS (1-8)
Tonight, 8 p.m.; TV: TSN
Calgary line: The Stampeders authored a fourth-quarter collapse last weekend that was one for the ages and yet still hung on for a three-point victory over their provincial rival thanks to the 30-point cushion they enjoyed when things started to unravel. Pretty? Nope. Yet another two points? Yep.
Edmonton line: No one in the CFL is better at putting fourth-quarter lipstick on a pig than Esks QB Mike Reilly, who would enhance his credibility as a starter immeasurably if he supplemented his weekly spectacular play in the final quarter with competent play the rest of the game. A 27-point fourth-quarter comeback is awesome, but only if you weren't behind 30 points to begin with.
Bottom line: The Esks are a lousy team on the field and a complete train wreck off of it.
LIONS (6-3) at TIGER-CATS (4-5)
Saturday, 3 p.m.; TV: TSN
B.C. line: It continues to be a tale of two BC teams this season. At home, the Lions are still perfect this season at 5-0 thanks to a narrow 30-27 win over the Ticats last weekend. But on the road -- which is where they'll be this week -- they've mustered just one win in four tries this season.
Hamilton line: The Ticats lost, and just barely, for the first time in a month last week and no longer even resemble the sad-sack outfit that opened the season at 1-4. QB Henry Burris continues to lead the league in passing yards by a wide-margin and has thrown twice as many touchdowns (14) as interceptions (7) in a season in which his famously bumbling alter-ego 'Hank' hasn't made many appearances yet.
Bottom line: Bet B.C. at home, short them on the road.
ARGONAUTS (5-4) at ALOUETTES (4-5)
Sunday, noon; TV: TSN
Toronto line: The Argos are winless in two games since starting QB Ricky Ray went down with a shoulder injury a couple weeks ago and backup Zach Collaros has thus far failed to inspire much confidence --or offence -- in relief. You know how Edmonton went in the tank when they didn't have Ray around anymore? Exactly.
Montreal line: The Als are suddenly on a two-game winning streak after opening the season at 2-5. Two weeks ago, they got lucky when third-stringer Tanner Marsh personally turned over the ball six times but still authored some last-minute heroics to lead his team to an unlikely victory over B.C. But then Marsh proved it was no fluke last week when he led his team to a much more efficient and workmanlike 20-9 victory over the Argos at Rogers Centre.
Bottom line: Anthony Calvillo went on the nine-game injured list this week and the Als are still favoured to win. Times have changed.
ROUGHRIDERS (8-1) at BLUE BOMBERS (1-8)
Sunday, 3 p.m.; TV: TSN; Radio: CJOB
Saskatchewan line: A final score of 48-25 in a win over Winnipeg in Regina last weekend flattered the Riders, who trailed 17-7 at one point and had all they could handle from a Bombers squad that looked to be their equals in the first half. Saskatchewan got it done in the second half -- and convincingly -- thanks to some halftime adjustments, but this is an 8-1 team that has some pronounced vulnerabilities.
Winnipeg line: The Bombers lost a winnable game last week the same way they have so many times this season -- in the third quarter. A 10-0 Saskatchewan run in the 3rd quarter last week put the Riders ahead on the scoreboard for good and the Bombers have now been outscored a combined 43-2 in their last eight third quarters. Blame it on coaching, blame it on fitness -- whatever you blame, the Bombers aren't going to win until they play four actual quarters in a single game.
Bottom line: Vegas says the Riders are 81/2-point favourites to win the Banjo Bowl and make the Bombers 0-5 at their shiny new football palace.
The Free Press has assembled a panel this season to offer their fearless predictions every week. Joining us this year are CJOB's Bob Irving, and from the Free Press, sports editor Steve Lyons, columnists Gary Lawless and Doug Brown and football writers Paul Wiecek and Ed Tait:
Irving: Edmonton, Hamilton, Montreal, Winnipeg.
Lyons: Edmonton, Hamilton, Toronto, Saskatchewan
Lawless: Calgary, B.C., Montreal, Saskatchewan
Brown: Calgary, Hamilton, Toronto, Saskatchewan
Tait: Calgary, B.C., Toronto, Saskatchewan
Wiecek: Calgary, Hamilton, Toronto, Saskatchewan
Last week/overall: Lyons 3-1/24-12; Tait 3-1/24-12; Wiecek 3-1/23-13; Lawless 4-0/23-13; Irving 4-0/22-14; Brown 3-1/21-15