ARGONAUTS (3-2) at ALOUETTES (2-3)
Tonight: 6:30 p.m.; TV: TSN
Toronto line: With a banged-up team rested a little after their bye, the defending Grey Cup champs will look to continue the momentum they built after they smashed the Lions 38-12 in Week 5, a game that saw three Toronto players score their first CFL touchdown. Although rookie pivot Zach Collaros turned out well in that one, getting veteran Ricky Ray back from injury this week is only going to be a good thing -- guy does have a 75.4 per cent completion rate. The Argos have often had trouble against Montreal, dropping five of the last six, and to turn that around they'll need fresh-faced tailback Curtis Steele, in for the injured Chad Kackert, to continue the beastly debut he made in B.C. -- two touchdowns and 109 yards on 17 touches, 74 of which came on the ground. They'll also want to open up the game for the CFL's leading receiver Chad Owens, who has seen his receptions drop steadily to only four against the Lions.
Montreal line: When it became clear, five games into the season, that the Alouettes' typically potent offence was fragmenting under a revamped system, GM Jim Popp wasted no time canning coach Dan Hawkins and taking the reins himself. (Former Bombers head coach Doug Berry is now the de facto offensive co-ordinator.) It's the third time Popp has donned the Als' coach cap in a pinch, with a regular-season record of 10-13. He knows quarterback Anthony Calvillo as well as anyone, and pledged to put the star pivot back in his comfort zone: although the Als lost star receiver Jamel Richardson to knee surgery and likely won't have explosive running back Brandon Whitaker either, a happy AC could settle and spark his flustered team.
ROUGHRIDERS (5-0) at STAMPEDERS (4-1)
Friday: 8 p.m. TV: TSN
Saskatchewan line: As if the Roughriders even needed the bye-week rest. The green machine continued to roll over the rest of the CFL in Week 5 -- and with backup pivot Drew Willy making only his third CFL start, no less. Well, this week they have Darian Durant back after a one-game absence. His sprained foot is still sore, but he boasts a downright gaudy quarterback rating of 136.9 and has yet to throw a pick this year. Meanwhile, tailback Kory Sheets made CFL history in July by rushing for 712 yards in only five games, they boast some of the best defensive and special teams coverage in the league and heck, the Riders have only allowed their opponents to start a drive in Rider territory a big 'ol four times in 77 possessions this season. Oh, and the last time they faced Calgary on July 5 -- a 36-21 win -- they shut out the Stamps 22-0 in the second half.
Stampeders line: The Stamps will certainly come in hunting for revenge, after having an early lead demolished the last time they faced the boys in green. That loss is the lone stain on their otherwise sterling early record, and they'll be gunning to hand that back. Well, if any team in the CFL has the bullets to do it, it's Calgary. They have three solid quarterbacks in the pen -- Drew Tate was originally named starter, then that job fell to Kevin Glenn, but rookie pivot Bo Levi Mitchell's exceptional Week 5 debut against the Bombers might push the Stamps to start him again. Meanwhile, though the Riders' Sheets is taking all the buzz, Stamps running back Jon Cornish has gobbled up an average of 127.6 yards per match. No matter what happens here, bet on a beautiful game from two versatile, well-coached teams.
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: Montreal, Calgary
Lyons: Montreal, Calgary
Lawless: Montreal, Calgary
Brown: Toronto, Calgary
Tait: Toronto, Saskatchewan
Wiecek: Montreal, Saskatchewan
Last week/overall: Irving 1-1/12-10; Lyons 1-1/15-7; Lawless 1-1/14-8; Brown 1-1/12-10; Tait 1-1/15-7; Wiecek 1-1/15-7.