CFL picks: Let the bad blood begin

After starting the season with a slew of inter-divisional games – 18 of the first 23 contests featured West vs. East action – Week 7 finally sees some rivalry games on the CFL schedule.

Ottawa takes on Hamilton with first in the East on the line while the Calgary matchup against Saskatchewan should be a good one as well. In Montreal, quarterback Johnny Manziel is finally expected to see some regular season action.

Montreal Alouettes newest quarterback Johnny Manziel throws during the team’s practice at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Monday, July 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Thursday, July 26
Edmonton at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

At Montreal, Vernon Adams Jr. starts for the Alouettes (1-4) but newcomer Johnny Manziel is expected to play after being acquired Sunday from Hamilton with offensive linemen Tony Washington and Landon Rice for rush end Jamaal Westerman, receiver Chris Williams and two first-round picks. Edmonton (3-2) comes off the bye week boasting the league’s top passer in Mike Reilly (1,648 yards, nine TDs) and receiver in D’haquille Williams (31 catches, 556 yards, three TDs).

Dunk: Question is how much does Edmonton win by? ESKS
Edwards: The Jeany Football era begins in Montreal. Don’t matter. ESKS
Gasson: Mont…just kidding. ESKS
Hodge: At least Johnny will help attendance. ESKS
Ballantine: The temptation to cast Manziel as saviour is strong, but not strong enough. Edmonton’s porous defence is still enough this week. ESKS
Filoso: Edmonton is simply better in all three phases. ESKS
Smith: Manziel or not, the Als just aren’t good enough. ESKS
Totals: ESKS 7 ALS 0

Toronto Argonauts quarterback James Franklin passes under pressure from Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ Cory Johnson during the first half of CFL football action in Toronto, Saturday July 21, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

Friday, July 27
Toronto at Winnipeg, 8:30 p.m.

At Winnipeg, the Bombers (3-3) look for the home-and-home sweep following last weekend’s 38-20 road win. Andrew Harris ran for a career-best 161 yards and scored two TDs. The bad news for Toronto (1-4) is 19 of its points came off turnovers and the Argos haven’t scored more than 20 points in a contest this season. Running backs James Wilder Jr. and Dexter McCluster both left Wednesday’s practice with leg injuries and their playing status remains uncertain.

Dunk: The love boat is sinking, holes need to be patched. BOMBERS
Edwards: Tough to win both sides of a home-and-home but even tougher to be the Argos right now. BOMBERS
Gasson: Toronto is still trying to figure it out. BOMBERS
Hodge: Toronto looked awful with Wilder. Without him? BOMBERS
Ballantine: In the vast majority of cases, the West is better. This isn’t one of the exceptions. BOMBERS
Filoso: Argos defence can’t be trusted. BOMBERS
Smith: The Argos are a bad football team right now. BOMBERS

JULY 24, 2018–New Hamilton Tiger-Cat Chris Williams during the team’s practice at Tim Horton’s Field Tuesday morning. Williams was acquired, along with Jamaal Westerman, in a trade with the Montreal Alouettes on July 22, 2018.Photo by Scott Gardner, The Hamilton Spectator

Saturday, July 28
Ottawa at Hamilton, 4 p.m.

At Hamilton, the Ticats (2-3) face a conference rival after opening with five straight games versus West Division teams. After nine straight 300-yard passing games, Jeremiah Masoli threw for just 184 in last week’s 31-20 home loss to Saskatchewan. Trevor Harris threw for 363 yards and a TD as Ottawa (3-2) rallied for a 29-25 victory over B.C. Westerman is expected to see action for the Ticats while Williams is coming off a hamstring injury.

Dunk: Tabbies off two Riders losses get back in the win column. TICATS
Edwards: Time to find out who’s for real (for now). TICATS
Gasson: Big game for both teams. Flip a coin. REDBLACKS
Hodge: Masoli thrives without Johnny on the bench. TICATS
Ballantine: Likely the most entertaining game of the week. Hamilton lost twice to Sask though, Ottawa has only lost to Calgary. REDBLACKS
Filoso: Ottawa creates some space atop the East. REDBLACKS
Smith: Ticats haven’t beat Ottawa in Hamilton since 2014. That’s gotta end at some point, right? RIGHT!? Give me the home side in a close one. TICATS

Calgary Stampeders kicker Rene Paredes (30) celebrates a kick with punter Rob Maver (6) against the Ottawa Redblacks during first half CFL action in Ottawa on Thursday, July 12, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Calgary at Saskatchewan, 9 p.m.

The contest begins an important stretch for both teams, who’ll play six straight games versus West Division rivals. Bo Levi Mitchell leads a Calgary offence that’s ranked first in fewest turnovers (six) and interceptions (three), second in scoring (29 points per game), net yards (408.4) and rushing (128.8 yards per game) and third in passing (289.8 yards). But those numbers pale in comparison to those being posted this season by Calgary’s defence. The unit leads the CFL in fewest points allowed (9.2 per game), TDs (four), net yards (243.2 per game), rushing yards (70.4), passing yards (190.4) and sacks recorded (16). Calgary is the CFL’s only unbeaten team while Saskatchewan comes off a home-and-home sweep of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Dunk: Tempted to pick Saskatchewan – upset at Mosaic is possible. STAMPS
Edwards: I like DeVone Claybrooks wayyyyy more than I like whatever the Riders have got going at quarterback. STAMPS
Gasson: Chris Jones always has his team ready to go against the best, but is it enough yet? I don’t think so. STAMPS
Hodge: Calgary’s simply the better team. STAMPS
Ballantine: No matter how well Hughes plays this week, this one isn’t close. Rider expectations come back down to earth after a two-plus score loss. STAMPS
Filoso: Calgary’s defence is playing lights out. STAMPS
Smith: A bad offence going up against the league’s best defence is a recipe for disaster. STAMPS

2018 Records
Dunk: 17-6
Edwards: 16-7
Smith: 15-8
Ballantine: 15-8
Filoso: 14-9
Gasson: 14-9
Hodge: 14-9

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