Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

CFL DIVISION SEMIFINALS

with Paul Wiecek

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ALOUETTES (8-10) at TIGER-CATS (10-8)

Sunday, noon; TV: TSN

Montreal line: The Alouettes are 3.5 point underdogs heading into Guelph this weekend and will need starting QB Troy Smith to have a big game if they're going to pull off the upset. The good news for the Als is the former Heisman winner has been exceptional since Montreal handed him the controls three weeks ago, throwing for 884 yards and nine touchdowns in three games.

Hamilton line: Ticats starting QB Henry Burris led the CFL in 2013 in both passing yards (4,925) and interceptions (19). The problem for Hamilton is Burris spent the latter half of the season adding more to the second category than to the first. Still, Hamilton went 5-2 down the stretch, won their last two in a row and are 6-3 at home this season.

Bottom line: The home team won all three meetings between these two teams this season.

LIONS (11-7) at ROUGHRIDERS (11-7)

Sunday, 3:30 p.m.; TV: TSN

B.C. line: The Lions closed practice in Vancouver this week and head coach Mike Benevides has been cagey when pressed who his starting quarterback will be on Sunday -- Travis Lulay, who played briefly last week for the first time in six weeks, or former Bombers pivot Buck Pierce, who's been effective in handling most of the snaps the last couple of games. You've got to figure Lulay will go if he can, but it says here Pierce might be the better choice, especially given a forecast calling for a high of -5 C in Regina on Sunday -- conditions that will be much more familiar to a former Bomber than a guy who has played his CFL career in a dome.

Saskatchewan line: The Riders won two of three meetings between these teams this season and would appear to have an exaggerated home-field advantage -- they're 6-3 at Mosaic Stadium this year while the Lions are just 3-6 on the road. Poor weather conditions on Sunday would also appear to favour a team that practises and plays outside all season and which has the second-leading rusher in the league in tailback Kory Sheets.

Bottom line: The Riders desperately want to make the Grey Cup their final home game of 2013.

THE PICKS

The Free Press has assembled a panel 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: Hamilton, Saskatchewan

Lyons: Hamilton, Saskatchewan

Lawless: Hamilton, Saskatchewan

Brown: Hamilton, Saskatchewan

Tait: Hamilton, Saskatchewan

Wiecek: Hamilton, Saskatchewan

Last week/overall: Tait 1-3/46-26; Lyons 2-2/45-27; Lawless 2-2/45-27; Brown 2-2/44-28; Wiecek 0-4/42-30; Irving 1-3/42-30.

-- compiled by Paul Wiecek

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 9, 2013 C4

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