It’s the Labour Day weekend, the unofficial start of the “real” CFL season, otherwise known as when things start getting good. There are a couple of teams on the rise – Ottawa, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg – who need to prove their recent success isn’t a mirage while Edmonton can re-assert itself as the West powerhouse by winning in Calgary. Hamilton can salvage some pride from a lost season – and a truly awful week – with a win in the biggest game of the year for the locals.
Ottawa Redblacks at Montreal Alouettes
Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST
Ottawa (3-6-1) has won two straight and can clinch the season series with a victory. CFL passing leader Trevor Harris threw for 326 yards and a TD but also had two picks as the defending Grey Cup champions stormed out to a 31-3 lead last weekend against B.C., then held on for the 31-24 victory. Montreal (3-6) has lost its last two contests, including a hard-luck 34-31 overtime decision to Winnipeg last week. Starter Darian Durant threw for 316 yards and three TDs while slotback Nik Lewis had 10 catches to boost his career total to 1,031, passing Geroy Simon (1,029) for the most in league history.
Dunk: Als are a tough out at home. ALS
Hodge: Harris over Durant. REDBLACKS
Edwards: Ottawa’s got their mojo back, Kavis is calling out his quarterback. REDBLACKS
Gasson: Ottawa is coming together. REDBLACKS.
Busby: This is when the RedBlacks get on a roll. REDBLACKS
Filoso: Despite their quasi 4th quarter collapse vs BC, Ottawa’s playing at a high level REDBLACKS
Smith: Montreal is a better team at home than on the road. ALS
Totals: REDBLACKS 5 ALS 2
Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Saskatchewan Roughriders
Sunday, 4 p.m. EST
Winnipeg (7-2) has reeled off five straight wins to move into a tie for second in the West with Edmonton. The Bombers are also the CFL’s top road team with a 4-1 record away from Investors Group Field. They also boast the league’s top-scoring offence (32 points per game) and a bona fide two-way threat in running back Andrew Harris. Saskatchewan (4-4) has won two straight, having outscored its opponents 95-39. The Riders’ offence scored four TDs against Edmonton while Willie Jefferson blocked a punt, then returned it for a score. Veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn sports a solid 70.2 completion percentage and has twice as many TDs (16) as interceptions (eight).
Dunk: Bombers won the first Riders game at Mosaic…BOMBERS
Hodge: One of these teams have something to prove; it’s not Winnipeg. BOMBERS
Edwards: God help me. RIDERS
Gasson: Riders have played strong at home. Coin toss game. RIDERS.
Busby: Suddenly this looks to be an intriguing matchup. Are these Riders for real? Maybe RIDERS
Filoso: Winnipeg’s the hottest team in the CFL BOMBERS
Smith: It feels like Saskatchewan is going to pull this out, but I can’t pick against a Winnipeg team this hot. BOMBERS
Totals: BOMBERS 4 RIDERS 3
Edmonton Eskimos at Calgary Stampeders
Monday, 3 p.m. EST
Mike Reilly and the Edmonton Eskimos face a very stiff challenge getting back into the win column. After reeling off seven straight wins, Edmonton (7-2) has dropped two straight. That includes a 54-31 home decision to the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Friday night. On Monday, the Eskimos visit the West Division-leading Calgary Stampeders (7-1-1) who’re not only 3-0 within the conference but boast the league’s lone unblemished home record (4-0). This is the first game of a home-and-home Labour Day showdown between the longstanding rivals, with the Stampeders visiting Commonwealth Stadium on Sept. 9. Edmonton has done a great job this season of winning games despite mounting injuries but now faces the CFL’s top and most consistent team.
Dunk: McMahon is the site for the game. STAMPS
Hodge: Calgary’s at home, so… STAMPS
Edwards: Says something pithy about Calgary at home. STAMPS
Gasson: I want to take Edmonton. The streak has to end eventually. I can’t though. STAMPS.
Busby: Just can’t bet against Stamps at home, even if they haven’t looked dominant lately. STAMPS
Filoso: A beat up Eskimo team in Calgary? STAMPS
Smith: It’s at McMahon, yes? OK. STAMPS
Totals: STAMPS 7 ESKS 0
Toronto Argonauts at Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Monday, 6:30 p.m. EST
Backup Jeremiah Masoli gets the start for Hamilton (0-8) in June Jones’ head-coaching debut. The Ticats haven’t played since a 37-18 loss to Ottawa on Aug. 18 but have been in the news with Kent Austin stepping down as coach, Jones’s promotion and, of course, the club backtracking on the controversial addition of Art Briles to the coaching staff. Toronto (4-6) managed just 238 net yards last week against Calgary and failed to reach the end zone. The Argos’ defence, ranked second in fewest offensive points allowed (22.6 per game), faces a Ticats’ offence that’s last in offensive points scored (15.8).
Dunk: Tumultuois times in Hamilton. ARGOS
Hodge: Hamilton’s awful… and getting worse. ARGOS
Edwards: Art Briles isn’t walking through that door (too soon?) ARGOS
Gasson: New coach bump, chaos sometimes leads to unexpected results. TICATS.
Busby: Even with the new-coach boost, the Ticats are nowhere near Argos’ level. ARGOS
Filoso: Hamilton’s ugly week is capped off by a beatdown on Labour Day ARGOS
Smith: Streaks were made to be broken. Toronto wins in Hamilton for the first time since Ivor Wynne was torn down. ARGOS
Totals: ARGOS 6 TICATS 1