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Eskimos looking to secure home playoff date in West semi with win over Lions

10/31/2014 06:42 EDT | Updated 12/31/2014 05:59 EST
EDMONTON - This season's dynamic turnaround by the Edmonton Eskimos has them in the CFL playoffs and in position to secure second place in the West Division with a victory Saturday over the visiting B.C. Lions.

The Eskimos have gone from 4-14 in 2013 to 11-5 this year, but they know that securing that home playoff date for the West semifinal will not be an easy task against the Lions and their defence.

"It's going to be a big challenge," said running back John White, who missed Edmonton's first game against the Lions this season, a 27-20 win for B.C. in Week 1.

"They have one of the greatest defensive fronts we play again. And two of the best linebackers in the league (Adam Bighill and Solomon Elimimian). But I'm not focused on that. They're just players. I don't see any numbers."

What the Eskimos do see is the Lions have given up just 295 points — fewest in the CFL — and have surrendered less than 20 points in five of their last six games. The Eskimos defence, however, has given up just 313 points — tied for second best with Calgary — and have surrendered less than 20 points in four of their last six games, including a shut out of the Saskatchewan Roughriders four weeks ago.

With the statistics pointing towards a low-scoring, defensive game, Edmonton offensive lineman Matt O'Donnell said the direction of the game will depend on the efficiency of the Eskimos offence.

"It all rests of the offence," said the six-foot-11, 340-pound right guard. "We have to be polished and have to play fast coming off the bye week. We have to come out and hit them fast and hit them hard.

"They have a good front seven. They move around a lot, have a lot of different packages, so we have to handle them physically up front."

An Edmonton win, or a loss by fewer then seven points, will give the Eskimos second place. A win by the 9-7 Lions by seven points or more would keep them in the hunt for second place.

Despite the importance of the game, Edmonton quarterback Mike Reilly said the team is not looking at it as a playoff-type matchup.

"It's a big regular season game but the loser is not going home," he said. "It's a big game for a lot of reasons. Playing at home is the most important, the opportunity to secure second place and not having to worry about all the other scenarios."

The Eskimos also said they weren't worried about the 10 sacks the Lions recorded last week in their 28-23 win over Winnipeg.

"We watched the film … they got pretty lucky with 10 sacks," said O'Donnell, who will be partly responsible for blocking Lions defensive end Khreem Smith — who had four of those sacks. "It won't be the same thing tomorrow."

Reilly agreed.

"I don't worry about it because they didn't play against us," he said. "Every team in this league is better at some things and not so good at others. And there's going to be weeks when one team gets a lot of sacks.

"I have confidence in our guys, they have been playing great up front all season."

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