Calgary (11-2) visits the Saskatchewan Roughriders (9-4) on Friday night needing a win or Winnipeg Blue Bombers loss to clinch a spot in the post-season. It's also an important matchup for the defending Grey Cup champions, who are currently tied for second in the West Division with the Edmonton Eskimos.
Winnipeg visits the Ottawa Redblacks while Edmonton is in Toronto to face the Argonauts on Saturday afternoon.
The Stampeders have been a model of consistency this season despite injuries to a number of their starters, most notably running back Jon Cornish, quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and rush end Charleston Hughes.
Cornish returned to the lineup last weekend following a one-game absence but had missed six contests earlier in the season with a concussion. Mitchell (knee, ankle) and Charleston (leg) were both hurt in Calgary's 40-33 comeback win over Toronto on Sept. 13 and neither will play against Saskatchewan, meaning Drew Tate will remain under centre.
The Stampeders failed to generate a touchdown last Sunday against the B.C. Lions. Tate threw for just 162 yards but Cornish ran for 156 yards, Rene Paredes booted four field goals and Calgary's defence registered two interceptions to anchor a 14-7 victory.
Saskatchewan is 1-2 without starting quarterback Darian Durant (elbow), including last weekend's one-sided 24-0 loss to Edmonton. Backup Tino Sunseri made his third straight start before giving way to Seth Doege, but both struggled against an Eskimos defence that surrendered just 205 total yards and recorded six sacks in handing the Riders their first shutout defeat since 1986.
Unfortunately, the situation doesn't get any easier for Saskatchewan. The Stampeders are not only 4-1 within the West Division but sport a league-best 5-1 road record.
Last weekend, Edmonton's John White ran for 192 yards and a TD against the Riders. Up next is Cornish, last year's outstanding player award winner who despite missing seven of 13 games this season is second in CFL rushing with 743 yards and averaging a solid 7.8 yards per carry.
Cornish is just 21 yards behind league-leader Brandon Whitaker of the Montreal Alouettes despite having 74 less carries than Whitaker.
Saskatchewan's defence has a CFL-high 52 sacks but the importance of a pass rush is diminished if a unit can't stop the run.
This will mark the first time since '09 that Durant won't be at quarterback against Calgary. However, Durant is 5-10-1 over that span against the Stampeders, who are 12-7-1 versus Saskatchewan since '08.
The prospect of that improving doesn't look promising with either Sunseri or Doege taking the snaps.
Pick — Calgary.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers versus Ottawa Redblacks, 7 p.m. ET on Friday night
A key contest for two teams clinging to playoff hopes. Ottawa (1-11) is last in the East Division having dropped nine straight, including a 36-28 road decision to Winnipeg on July 3. The Bombers have lost their last four games and are last in the West Division. Henry Burris remains with Ottawa despite an inquiry from Saskatchewan about a potential trade for the veteran quarterback. Winnipeg quarterback Drew Willy threw for 303 yards and a TD in last weekend's 16-11 loss to Hamilton, just missing out on leading the Bombers to a second comeback win over the Ticats. Ottawa's biggest issue this season is an offence that's last in scoring (16 points per game) and second-last in total yards (294.3).
Pick — Winnipeg.
Edmonton Eskimos versus Toronto Argonauts, 4 p.m. ET on Saturday afternoon
Toronto plays its first home game since a 33-17 loss to B.C. on Aug. 17. The Argos are just two points behind Montreal and Hamilton for tops in the East and will play the next four games at home, including two against the Ticats and another versus the Als. Edmonton's defence dominated Saskatchewan but Toronto starter Ricky Ray leads the CFL in passing percentage (68.2) and TDs (22). The Argos are also coming off a bye. Ray has completed over 70 per cent of his passes in four games against is former team but is just 1-3. Toronto's defence allows a CFL-high 27.1 points per game, compared to 19.4 for Edmonton.
Pick — Edmonton.
B.C. Lions versus Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 7 p.m. ET on Saturday night
The Ticats (5-7) have won three straight and four of their last five. They also return to Tim Hortons Field, where they're 3-0. Quarterback Zach Collaros has been back for the last five contests but the last three weeks Hamilton's defence has allowed 37 points while registering 15 sacks. B.C. (7-6) has lost its last two games and is minus running back Andrew Harris (dislocated ankle), the CFL's yards-from-scrimmage leader. Stefan Logan (508 yards, 5.1-yard average) steps into the backfield for the Lions, who are 4-2 on the road. B.C. linebacker Solomon Elimimian (108 tackles) is closing on the CFL single-season record of 130 held by Edmonton's J.C. Sherrit.
Pick — B.C.
Last week — 4-0
Record — 38-19