Week 18 picks: Who will emerge from the awful East?

Hamilton Tiger-Cats Junior Collins makes a touchdown catch to put Hamilton ahead of the Ottawa Redblacks for a short spell during the second-half of CFL football action in Hamilton on Friday, October 14, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power

Ottawa Redblacks (7-7-1) at Hamilton Tiger-Cats (6-9)
Fri., Oct. 21. 7 p.m. EST

They’re already minus their starting quarterback, and now the Hamilton Tiger-Cats won’t have their top special-teams threat for their rematch with the Ottawa Redblacks.

The CFL suspended receiver/kick-returner Brandon Banks for two games Wednesday after he tested positive for methylenedioxyamphetamine. It’s a stimulant known as MDA that’s closely related to ecstasy. That means the the five-foot-seven, 157-pound Banks won’t play Friday night when Hamilton (6-9) visits Ottawa (7-7-1) to complete their crucial home-and-home series. The Redblacks won last Friday’s game 30-29 to move three points ahead of the Ticats atop the East Division.

Dunk: Hamilton finds a way. TICATS
Smith: Ottawa has been better on the road than at home, and after getting hosed last week by a terrible replay call, Hamilton is owed one by the football gods. TICATS
Filoso: Whether it’s due to suspension or injury, the Ticats are simply missing too many key players. REDBLACKS
Edwards: Ottawa puts the East Division out of its misery, I mean wins the East Division title. REDBLACKS
Hodge: Ticats have fallen and can’t get up. REDBLACKS
Busby: RedBlacks will get hot heading into the playoffs. Right? REDBLACKS
Gasson: things just don’t seem to be coming up Hamilton. REDBLACKS
Totals: REDBLACKS 5 TICATS 2

argosstamps

Toronto Argonauts (5-11)  at Calgary Stampeders  (14-1-1)
Fri., Oct. 21. 9 p.m. EST

Toronto should know by halftime if it’s playing for a post-season berth or next year. A Hamilton win in Ottawa would eliminate the Argos from playoff contention. Ricky Ray returns under centre for the Double Blue after missing six games with a fractured rib and deflated lung. The club has lost five straight and nine of its last 10 overall. Not only does Calgary have the CFL’s best record but is 8-0 at McMahon Stadium. The Stampeders have clinched first in the West but winning out would give them the best regular-season record in league history.

Dunk: I’ll take the… yeah, Calgary. STAMPS
Smith: *fart noise* STAMPS
Filoso: Ricky Ray returns so the Argos should keep it within 14 STAMPS
Edwards: Can I just write “STAMPS” on every game from now until the end of the season? STAMPS
Hodge: I’m not conviced the Argos could beat the Calgary Dinos right now. STAMPS
Busby: Snore. I’m gonna fast forward to Nov. 20 when the Stamps play their next intriguing game. STAMPS
Gasson: Stamps. Stamps. Stamps. STAMPS
Totals: STAMPS 7 ARGOS 0

Montreal Alouettes' Vernon Adams Jr. looks down field for a clear receiver during second half CFL action against the Toronto Argonauts in Montreal on Friday, June 17, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter McCabe

Montreal Alouettes  (4-11) at Saskatchewan Roughriders (5-10)
Sat., Oct. 22. 4 p.m. EST

It was a rather tumultuous week for Montreal with receivers Duron Carter and Kenny Stafford being released and starter Rakeem Cato benched for rookie Vernon Adams. Carter was Montreal’s leading receiver (61 catches, 938 yards, five TDs) but had no catches in last weekend’s 22-8 loss to Calgary. Interestingly enough, Stafford is Carter’s cousin. Cato was 13-of-29 passing versus the Stamps for just 124 yards. Joe McKnight ran for 150 yards in leading Saskatchewan to a 29-11 road win in Toronto last week. It was the Riders’ fourth straight victory and there’s no reason to think they won’t keep it going on home soil.

Dunk: Darian Durant is playing for a *big* contract. RIDERS
Smith: It would be tough to pick the Als even if they didn’t release their best player, but they did, so make if five in a row for the once woebegone squad from Saskatchewan. RIDERS
Filoso: Rookie QB making his 1st start vs a Chris Jones defence that’s trending upwards? Easy choice RIDERS
Edwards: Rookie quarterbacks making their first career start for non-playoff teams in chaos are 2-37 in CFL history (all numbers approximate.) RIDERS
Hodge: West over East. Again. RIDERS
Busby: One team is building momentum for next year. The other is simply imploding. RIDERS
Gasson: Montreal is a mess. Riders are on a roll. RIDERS.
Totals: RIDERS 7 ALS 0

B.C. Lions' Jeremiah Johnson celebrates his touchdown against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats during the first half of a CFL football game in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday August 13, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Edmonton Eskimos (8-7) at B.C. Lions (9-6)
Sat., Oct. 22. 7 p.m. EST

An interesting game featuring teams heading in opposite directions. B.C. has dropped two straight – both to Winnipeg – to stand third in the West, just two points ahead of Edmonton, which has registered three consecutive wins. The Eskimos won the previous meeting 27-23 at Commonwealth Stadium. The Lions can’t afford to finish in a three-way tie with the Esks and Winnipeg as those teams hold the advantage over the Leos. Edmonton is 5-4 within the West Division while B.C. is 2-5. The Lions have the CFL’s second-best home record (4-3) but road teams are also 36-32-1 this season.

Dunk: Let’s find out just how good Edmonton is. ESKS
Smith: This should be close, but I have to roll with the home side. LIONS
Filoso: Expect lots of fireworks in the game of the week. This one is a toss up for me but I’ll go with my gut. ESKS
Edwards: Two teams trending in opposite directions. Trends are overrated. LIONS.
Hodge: Lions are sliding at the worst time. ESKS
Busby: Saturday night’s alright for fighting. Get a little action in. This should be a good one (Sorry Elton) LIONS
Gasson:  Edmonton seems to have found something. ESKS.
Totals: ESKS 4 LIONS 3

Season records
Dunk: 44-24-1
Smith: 42-26-1
Filoso: 42-26-1
Edwards: 41-27-1
Hodge: 41-27-1
Busby: 36-32-1
Gasson: 33-35-1

Must Read