B.C. Lions linebacker Solomon Elimimian could have two big reasons to smile Saturday night.
First, B.C. (8-7) can clinch a playoff berth with a victory over the struggling Winnipeg Blue Bombers (6-10). Elimimian also needs 10 tackles to break the CFL single-season mark of 130 held by J.C. Sherritt of the Edmonton Eskimos.
The Lions linebacker has recorded 10 or more tackles seven times this season.
Barring injury, Elimimian will break Sherritt's mark and be the overwhelming favourite to claim the CFL's outstanding defensive player award next month in Vancouver. But B.C. also has a solid shot to secure a playoff berth facing a Bombers' team that's dropped seven straight and nine of its last 10 games.
Fortunately for Winnipeg, starter Drew Willy (hand) returns after missing last weekend's 33-23 loss to the Calgary Stampeders. Backup Brian Brohm was 14-of-23 passing for 194 yards before suffering a broken thumb.
No. 3 Robert Marve will serve as Willy's backup after completing 5-of-10 passes for 64 yards against Calgary. Running back Paris Cotton, who replaced the departed Nic Grigsby as the starter, had 108 yards and two TDs on 14 carries.
Winnipeg remains in playoff contention, but just barely. The Bombers would not only have to win their final two regular-season games — the other is a rematch with Calgary — but also get plenty of help to reach the post-season.
Getting into the playoffs is asking a lot of a Winnipeg squad that hasn't won since a 24-16 home decision over the Montreal Alouettes on Aug. 22.
B.C. not only comes off a bye week but a pretty dominant 41-3 home win over Ottawa on Oct. 11. The Lions' defence hasn't allowed a touchdown its last three games, which isn't exactly good news for the struggling Bombers.
The Lions and Saskatchewan Roughriders (9-7) both face two potential playoff scenarios.
Currently, B.C. is fourth in the West Division, two points behind Saskatchewan, which has lost four straight. Either the Lions or Riders will secure the third Western playoff seed but the fourth-place squad would become the East Division's third playoff seed if it ended the regular season with a better record than the Eastern third-place finisher.
A more pressing concern for B.C. is Winnipeg, but the Bombers are just 1-7 against West Division competition this year.
Pick — B.C.
Montreal Alouettes versus Ottawa Redblacks, 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday night.
Jonathan Crompton is 6-1 as the starter for Montreal (7-8) and looks to improve to 3-0 against expansion Ottawa (2-13). Crompton has won despite a 59.8 completion percentage and not having thrown for over 300 yards in any of his starts. The Alouettes' defence surrendered just four field goals in last weekend's 20-12 road win in Toronto. Veteran Henry Burris starts for Ottawa, which has dropped two straight and 11 of its last 12 games, but backup Danny O'Brien will see action.
Pick — Montreal.
Saskatchewan Roughriders versus Calgary Stampeders, 9:30 p.m., ET on Friday night.
Having already clinched first in the West Division, Calgary (13-2) is unlikely to dress running back Jon Cornish due to general soreness. Cornish ran for 160 yards against Winnipeg and leads the CFL with 977 yards despite missing seven games due to injury. Kerry Joseph, 41, will make his second straight start for Saskatchewan (9-7) after completing 17-of-36 passes for 213 yards with two TDs and two interceptions in Sunday's 24-19 loss to Edmonton.
Pick — Calgary.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats versus Toronto Argonauts, 4 p.m. ET on Saturday afternoon
An important game for both as the winner clinches the season series but Toronto (6-9) needs the victory to remain within striking distance of first in the East Division. The Argos outscored Hamilton (7-8) 21-3 in the fourth quarter two weeks ago for a thrilling 34-33 win at Rogers Centre but managed just four field goals against Montreal last weekend. Newcomer Grigsby, who ran for 744 yards with Winnipeg, should boost Hamilton's ground game. Slotback Andy Fantuz (hamstring) isn't likely to play.
Pick — Toronto.
Last week — 3-1.
Overall — 46-23.