Mike Reilly and the Edmonton Eskimos will try to do something no other CFL team has this season: Beat the Calgary Stampeders at McMahon Stadium.
The Eskimos (10-4) visit the Stampeders (11-3) in a battle between the league's top two teams. The winner claims the season series and tie-breaker in the event the two squads end the regular campaign with identical point totals.
The defending Grey Cup-champion Stampeders have the league's best home record at 7-0 and are 6-1 within the West Division.
Edmonton is the CFL's hottest team with four straight wins and boasts a defence that's allowing just 18.6 points and 67.1 yards rushing per game, both league lows.
Edmonton is 4-0 with Reilly back as its starter. Reilly suffered a knee injury in the season-opening loss to Toronto and saw action in the Eskimos' 16-7 Labour Day loss to the Stampeders before returning as the starting quarterback and leading his team to a 27-16 home victory over Calgary on Sept. 12.
Reilly has completed 82-of-135 passes (74.1 per cent) for 908 yards and six TDs over his last four starts with four interceptions. He finished 22-of-40 passing for 352 yards and three TDs in the win over Calgary.
Reilly has also rushed for 146 yards and a TD in 29 carries (5.03-yard average) since returning as the starter.
Grey Cup MVP Bo Levi Mitchell leads a Calgary offence that's averaging over 26 points per game and features two potent weapons in receiver Eric Rogers and running back Jon Cornish.
Rogers is the league's receiving leader with 72 catches for 1,184 yards and seven touchdowns. Cornish, from New Westminster, B.C., was the CFL's top player in 2013 and three times has been named its top Canadian however he didn't play in the two previous contests versus Edmonton.
But it's Mitchell who makes the unit go. Mitchell is second overall in passing (3,808 yards) with 20 TDs but has also thrown 11 interceptions, two behind league leader Trevor Harris of the Toronto Argonauts.
Calgary is also coming off a close win, nipping Hamilton 23-20 on Rene Paredes' game-ending 37-yard field goal. Edmonton needed Sean Whyte's 53-yard boot on the final play to beat Winnipeg after Bombers kicker Lirim Hajrullahu missed four of the five field goals he tried.
Calgary and Edmonton have both clinched playoff berths but first in the West remains the big prize. The first-place finisher not only receives a first-round playoff but also hosts the division final.
Pick — Calgary.
Saskatchewan Roughriders versus Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Friday night.
Hamilton (8-5) suddenly is in dire need of a home win. After winning 10 straight at Tim Hortons Field, the Ticats have dropped three-of-four games there, including last weekend's 23-20 decision to Calgary. Saskatchewan (2-12) has lost three-of-four contests since beating Winnipeg 37-19 for its first victory of the year. Riders running back Jerome Messam has 818 rushing yards — one behind B.C.'s Andrew Harris, the league leader — and is averaging 6.3 yards per carry.
Pick — Hamilton.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers versus B.C. Lions, Saturday night.
Winnipeg (4-10) deserved better last week against Edmonton as starter Matt Nichols was 22-of-39 passing for 320 yards and a TD against his former club. But Hajrullahu simply must be better. B.C. (5-8) holds the West Division's third and final playoff position for now. Incumbent Travis Lulay recently came off the six-game injured list but rookie Jon Jennings had four TD strikes in last weekend's 46-20 win over Saskatchewan. It's hard to overlook the Bombers' 3-6 division record.
Pick — B.C.
Toronto Argonauts versus Montreal Alouettes, Monday afternoon.
A must-win for Montreal (5-8), which is six points out of the third and final East Division playoff spot and tied with B.C. for the West crossover. The Als haven't played since their 39-17 road loss to Ottawa on Oct. 1 as Henry Burris had a league-record 45 completions. Toronto (8-5) comes off consecutive wins over the Redblacks, including a 38-35 decision Tuesday night thanks to Chad Owens' late one-handed TD grab. It was one of five scoring strikes for Harris, who also threw for 397 yards.
Pick — Toronto.
Last week: 4-1
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press