This feels like a week of mismatches with three of the teams favoured by six points or more and the fourth (Edmonton) a three-point road favourite. But desperate teams can be dangerous and that label applies to a number of squads who are looking to right the ship before things get out of hand.
Losses by Saskatchewan, Toronto and Winnipeg would put them in a dangerous hole to start the season while B.C. hasn’t done much to inspire confidence thus far. On the flip side, Hamilton and Edmonton will be looking to cement their status as teams to be reckoned with road wins.
Thursday, July 5
Hamilton at Saskatchewan, 9 p.m.
At Regina, Jeremiah Masoli chases a record-tying ninth straight 300-yard passing effort for Hamilton (2-1) after throwing for 369 yards and a TD in last week’s 31-17 home win over Winnipeg. Saskatchewan quarterback David Watford replaced Canadian Brandon Bridge to open the second half of last week’s 23-17 home loss to Montreal, but the Roughriders (1-2) have said they’re going back to Bridge against Hamilton. The Als targeted Duron Carter, who had trouble covering speedy Chris Williams (three catches 130 yards, TD).
Dunk: Feels like a trap game – the Ticats barely escape. TICATS
Edwards: This is an Admiral Ackbar game for Hamilton but there is still a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of Saskie fans suddenly cried out in terror at the thought of Duron playing DB again. TICATS
Gasson: I’m so tempted, no one else would do it but I can’t. TICATS
Hodge: Saskatchewan can’t Bridge the talent gap. TICATS
Ballantine: The Riders have nine defensive linemen on the depth chart this week, and Duron Carter at DB. TICATS
Filoso: June Jones has his team rolling. TICATS
Smith: The old Ticats would drop this game; the new June Jones Ticats will not. TICATS
Totals: TICATS 7 RIDERS 0
Friday, July 6
Ottawa at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
At Montreal, the Alouettes (1-2) look to build off last week’s win over Saskatchewan that snapped their miserable 13-game losing streak. Jeff Mathews was 8-of-12 passing for 98 yards in relief of Drew Willy (concussion protocol). Trevor Harris completed 13-of-29 passes for 135 yards and a pick for Ottawa (1-1) in last week’s 24-14 road loss to Calgary. William Powell ran for 123 yards while Greg Ellingson had six catches for 97 yards and a TD.
Dunk: Jeff Mathews vs. Noel Thorpe. REDBLACKS
Edwards: It will be more than a headset that confounds Mike Sherman in the Noel Thorpe revenge game. REDBLACKS
Gasson: The Als won last week because they played Saskatchewan. REDBLACKS
Hodge: It was nice to see Montreal get one win (emphasis on “one”). REDBLACKS
Ballantine: Montreal got a win gift wrapped last week. This week they are back on the naughty list. REDBLACKS
Filoso: Montreal will quickly learn that Ottawa is not Saskatchewan. REDBLACKS
Smith: Ottawa isn’t Saskatchewan. REDBLACKS
Totals: REDBLACKS 7 ALS 0
Saturday, July 7
Edmonton at Toronto, 5:30 p.m.
James Franklin’ will make his first start with Toronto on Saturday when the club hosts the Edmonton Eskimos at BMO Field. Franklin takes over as the Argos’ No. 1 quarterback with incumbent Ricky Ray sidelined with a neck injury. The six-foot-two, 225-pound Franklin spent his first three CFL seasons (2015-17) backing up Edmonton veteran Mike Reilly, the CFL’s most outstanding player last year. Franklin appeared in 12 games with the Eskimos, going 2-1 as a starter. The challenge for Toronto defensively will be containing Reilly, who was 22-of-30 passing for 326 yards and three TDs in rallying Edmonton (2-1) past B.C. 41-22 last week. The Lions led 11-2 heading into the second quarter but were outscored 29-3 over the second and third.
Dunk: Hard to believe Marc Trestman lets the Argos slip to 0-3. ARGOS
Edwards: Trestman and Frankin with an extra week but that Toronto defence has looked shaky. ESKS
Gasson: Toronto is off a bye but they weren’t great before and are missing Ricky Ray. ESKS
Hodge: The apprentice never beats the master the first time around. ESKS
Ballantine: Reilly’s former understudy is good, but not good enough. ESKS
Filoso: I trust Trestman off a bye. ARGOS
Smith: Edmonton hasn’t looked great, but Toronto has looked worse. ESKS
Totals: ESKS 5 ARGOS 2
British Columbia at Winnipeg, 8:30 p.m.
At Winnipeg, the Blue Bombers (1-2) continue to chase their first home win of the season. Rookie Chris Streveler finished 17-of-28 passing for 146 yards and no TDs _ for the first time in three starts _ last week against Hamilton. Veteran starter Matt Nichols has been removed from the six-game injured list, so he could be back behind centre soon. B.C. (1-1) started out well enough against Edmonton but couldn’t make it stick as quarterback Jonathon Jennings finished 13-of-24 passing for 199 yards with an interception while rushing for 34 yards on five carries.
Dunk: Better team and at home. BOMBERS
Edwards: Wally’s farewell tour starting to feel like a death march. BOMBERS
Gasson: With or without Matt Nichols. BOMBERS
Hodge: I’m simply not sold on anything B.C. has shown thus far. BOMBERS
Ballantine: Winnipeg gets back on track against toothless Lions. BOMBERS
Filoso: What have the Lions done to make anyone believe? BOMBERS
Smith: Nichols or not, Winnipeg is better than B.C. BOMBERS
Totals: BOMBERS 7 LIONS 0
– with files from CP