The race for first place in the West Division might already be over by the time Mike Reilly and the Edmonton Eskimos take the field this weekend.
The Eskimos (13-4) can clinch top spot — and the right to host the West final — with a win Sunday over the Montreal Alouettes (6-10). But Edmonton would also cement first if the Saskatchewan Roughriders (2-14) upset the Calgary Stampeders (12-5) on Saturday.
Edmonton has won seven straight since Reilly returned as the starter Sept. 12, leading his team to a 27-16 home victory over the Stampeders. Reilly and Co. clinched the season series with a 15-11 road win over Calgary on Oct. 10.
Reilly was 29-of-39 passing for 377 yards and three TDs last weekend in rallying Edmonton to a 35-24 win over Saskatchewan. The Riders had stormed out to an early 21-3 advantage.
Since returning under centre, Reilly has completed 164-of-254 passes (64.6 per cent) for 1,881 yards with 11 TDs and 10 interceptions. He's also added 308 yards rushing on 60 carries (5.1-yard average).
Montreal has been eliminated from post-season contention in the East Division but still has a shot of qualifying in the West. A win over Edmonton would keep the Alouettes' quest of becoming the first Eastern squad to secure a cross-over position alive.
Montreal heads to Alberta off an impressive 34-2 road win over the Toronto Argonauts at Tim Hortons Field. Quarterback Kevin Glenn threw three TD passes to secure his first win as an Alouette after being acquired from Saskatchewan at the CFL trade deadline Oct. 14.
Glenn finished 27-of-35 passing for 294 yards against Toronto, whose lone points came on a safety.
Points could be hard to come by for both offences given the relative strength of the respective defences. Edmonton is allowing just 16.6 points per game while Montreal's unit gives up 18.2.
Edmonton won the first meeting of the season 15-12 in Montreal. With James Franklin and Matt Nichols (now with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers) sharing snaps, receiver Derel Walker led the way for the Eskimos with 10 catches for 125 yards.
Should Montreal win or tie, idle Winnipeg would be eliminated from playoff contention.
Pick — Edmonton.
B.C. Lions versus Toronto Argonauts on Friday night
Ricky Ray makes his first start of the season for Toronto (9-7), which has dropped two straight but finally returns to Rogers Centre. Ray started the year on the injured list recovering from off-season shoulder injury before rejoining the team in September. The Argos will be minus receiver Tori Gurley, who's being benched by head coach Scott Milanovich. Rookie Jonathan Jennings continues to impress for B.C. (6-10), passing for 247 yards and three TDs in last weekend's 40-13 home win over Hamilton.
Pick — Toronto.
Saskatchewan Roughriders versus Calgary Stampeders on Saturday afternoon
Calgary sees its first action since a 27-15 win over Toronto in Hamilton on Oct. 17, which was important considering the club was coming off its tough four-point loss to Edmonton. Maybe head coach/GM John Hufnagel will provide a glimpse on how he plans to use running back Jerome Messam, acquired at the trade deadline from Saskatchewan. Despite their impressive start against Edmonton, the Riders have dropped three straight and face a squad that's 7-1 at home.
Pick — Calgary.
Ottawa Redblacks versus Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday afternoon
Last year, Hamilton (10-6) was unbeatable at home but is just 5-3 this season at Tim Hortons Field. The bad news for Ottawa (10-6) is the Ticats will be angry after a lopsided 40-13 road loss to B.C. Special-teams could be key as the Redblacks have struggled in that department while the home team has the dangerous Brandon Banks returning kicks. Regardless of what happens, who finishes atop the East won't be decided until after the return engagement Nov. 7 at TD Place.
Pick — Hamilton.
Last week: 2-2.
Overall record: 41-28.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press