CFL picks: Must-win time is pretty much here

The stretch drive is upon us and while no team can make – or be eliminated – from post-season contention this week, several squads are reaching the must-win part of the schedule. Let’s take a look at the matchups…

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Johnny Manziel throws a pass during the warm-ups prior to first half CFL football action against the BC Lions in Montreal, Friday, September 14, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Friday, Sept. 21
Montreal at Winnipeg, 8:30 p.m.

Johnny Manziel will be under centre – again – Friday night when the Montreal Alouettes visit the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Manziel hasn’t played since suffering a concussion in his second start for the Als, a 24-17 loss to the Ottawa Redblacks on Aug. 11. Winnipeg (5-7) has dropped four straight but head coach Mike O’Shea is sticking with starting quarterback Matt Nichols. The veteran sports a 61.4 per cent completion average but has thrown more interceptions (12) than touchdowns (11).

Edwards: Battle of the beleaguered quarterbacks. BOMBERS
Dunk: Bombers need it more, much more. BOMBERS
Gasson: Bye week does Winnipeg well. BOMBERS
Smith: If Winnipeg loses this they should just forfeit the rest of their season. BOMBERS
Hodge: Bombers finally bounce back. BOMBERS
Filoso: Not high on either team but how can you trust Manziel? BOMBERS
Ballantine: Ballantine: Nichols puts the win back in Winnipeg BOMBERS
Totals: BOMBERS 7 ALOUETTES 0

Saturday, Sept. 22
Edmonton at Ottawa, 4 p.m.

At Ottawa, this has the potential to be a passing shootout. Trevor Harris led the Redblacks (7-5) to a 30-25 win over Saskatchewan last week with 334 yards through the air with two TDs while Powell also ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Mike Reilly of Edmonton (7-5) is the CFL’s passing leader with 3,943 yards and second overall in touchdown passes (26).

Edwards: I don’t trust either of these teams at all. But I trust Ottawa less. ESKS
Dunk: Up and down the Redblacks go. ESKS
Gasson: The roller coaster season continues. REDBLACKS
Smith: Ottawa is a conundrum wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a riddle. At least Edmonton has Mike Reilly. ESKS
Hodge: Ottawa makes absolutely no sense right now. ESKS
Filoso: Edmonton’s inconsistent season continues. REDBLACKS
Ballantine: Edmonton needs to keep pace and has more urgency. ESKS
Totals: ESKS 5 REDBLACKS 2

Saturday, Sept. 22
Saskatchewan at Toronto, 7 p.m.

At Toronto, the Riders (7-5) chase a fifth victory in six games after having their four-game win streak snapped last week by Ottawa. Quarterback Zach Collaros (10-of-27 passing, 162 yards, one TD, two interceptions) must be better. Duron Carter faces his former team for the first time since joining the Argos (3-8), who’ve dropped two straight and are 2-5 against the West.

Edwards: The Duron Carter Revenge Game does not go well. RIDERS
Dunk: Marc Trestman off the bye is tempting, but no. RIDERS
Gasson: Riders rebound. RIDERS
Smith: The Argo offence will not be able to score, and Saskatchewan’s defence will. RIDERS
Hodge: League’s worst offence against the league’s worst defence? This’ll be interesting. RIDERS
Filoso: Carter may get his revenge with a big game, but Saskatchewan gets the win. RIDERS
Ballantine: Because nothing is as easy as it seems. ARGOS
Totals: RIDERS 6 ARGOS 1

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Saturday, Sept. 22
Hamilton at British Columbia, 10 p.m.

At Vancouver, Jonathon Jennings starts for the Lions (5-6) after veteran Travis Lulay suffered a shoulder injury last week versus Montreal. B.C. has won two straight and its defence has been stellar. That’s not good for Hamilton (6-6). Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was 23-of-37 passing in last week’s 43-28 loss to Calgary but only for 210 yards with two interceptions.

Edwards: Without Banks and Saunders, the run-and-shoot is a popgun thus far. LIONS
Dunk: No Banks, more problems. LIONS
Gasson: late start for an eastern team is always tough. LIONS.
Smith: Losing Lulay hurts the Lions more than any injury the Ticats have suffered. TICATS
Hodge: Receiver injuries finally catch up with the Ticats. LIONS
Filoso: No Banks, no Green, no win. LIONS
Ballantine: Who will catch the ball for Hamilton this week? LIONS
Totals: LIONS 6 TICATS 1

2018 Records
Edwards: 34-19
Dunk: 34-19
Gasson: 32-21
Smith: 32-21
Hodge: 31-22
Filoso: 30-23
Ballantine: 28-25

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