SPORTS

Henry Burris to start in regular-season finale for Hamilton Tiger-Cats

10/30/2013 02:34 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have clinched a home playoff game heading into their regular-season finale, but Henry Burris won't have the weekend off.

The veteran quarterback will start Saturday when Hamilton visits Winnipeg (3-14). The contest has no impact on the East Division standings as the Ticats (9-8) have cemented second spot while the Blue Bombers (3-14) will finish last.

Hamilton will host the Montreal Alouettes in the East semfinal Nov. 10 at Guelph, Ont.

Burris has thrown for a CFL-high 4,792 yards but was just 16-of-23 passing for 163 yards with an interception in Hamilton's 27-24 home win over Montreal last weekend. That victory secured the Ticats home-field advantage against the Alouettes in the semifinal contest.

It marked the fifth time in six games Burris hasn't thrown a TD strike and the ninth consecutive week that the 38-year-old has been picked off. But the Ticats have won four of their last five contests, beating Montreal on Brandon Banks' 107-yard return of a missed Sean Whyte field goal.

Hamilton will aim to register its first 10-win season since 2001 but, more importantly, ride the momentum of two straight victories entering the playoffs.

Quarterback Alex Hall (hip) is ready to go for Winnipeg, which will look to avoid tying its worst-ever record over 18 games. Hall, like many of the Bombers, will be playing for a job next season.

Head coach Tim Burke has said he'd like to remain in Winnipeg but understands that decision remains out of his hands. The Bombers will be without defensive linemen Greg Peach (groin) and Mike McAdoo (shoulder), receivers Terrence Edwards (groin) and Mike Sims-Walker (knee) and offensive lineman Pat Neufeld (shin).

Pick — Hamilton.

Montreal Alouettes at Toronto Argonauts on Friday night

Ricky Ray won't dress for Toronto, which has clinched first in the East Division. That means backup Zach Collaros will start with Trevor Harris and Mitchell Gale also slated to play.

The Argos will give plenty of youngsters and new faces the opportunity to impress, including linebacker/rush end Aaron Maybin. Toronto signed the former Buffalo Bills first-round pick last weekend with the hope he'd inject life into the club's pass rush.

Montreal comes in assured of finishing third in the East. While the Alouettes will want to safeguard against injuries, they also need this game more than Toronto and that should give them a decided edge.

Pick — Montreal.

Calgary Stampeders at B.C. Lions on Friday night

Kevin Glenn remains Calgary's starter despite losing two fumbles and throwing an interception and botching a handoff that landed him on the bench to start the second half of last weekend's win over Saskatchewan. Glenn will open under centre for the Stampeders but backup Drew Tate and No. 3 Bo Levi Mitchell are also expected to play.

Running back Jon Cornish, the CFL rushing leader with 1,799 yards, needs 97 yards to break Willie Burden's club record. Defensive end Charleston Hughes, the league leader with 18 sacks, needs two to break Harold Hallman's franchise mark.

It will be interesting to see how much playing time each gets as Calgary chases its 15th victory.

The Lions know they'll face Saskatchewan next weekend in the West semifinal so coach Mike Benevides must weigh the importance of playoff momentum against the threat of injury.

B.C. was 7-4 under starter Travis Lulay before he suffered a shoulder injury. Backup Thomas DeMarco won his first two CFL starts but is just 3-3 overall and last weekend the Lions needed veteran Buck Pierce to come off the bench and throw three TD passes to rally them past Edmonton 43-29.

Lulay will dress and play for B.C. It's essential he get some game action prior to the playoffs.

Pick — Calgary.

Edmonton Eskimos at Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday night

Saskatchewan (11-6) has cemented second in the West Division and will host B.C. in the conference semifinal. But the Riders don't want to head into the playoffs having dropped their final two regular-season games.

It's been a difficult season for the Eskimos (3-14). The harsh reality is many players are now auditioning for jobs, be it in Edmonton or anywhere else in the CFL next year and that alone is incentive enough to perform.

In the end, here's figuring the desire to post 12 wins overrides trying to finish a dismal campaign on a winning note.

Pick — Saskatchewan.

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