The Toronto Argonauts couldn't pick a better time to break a season-long trend.
Toronto (5-7) hosts the Montreal Alouettes (3-9) at BMO Field on Saturday night having not won consecutive games this year. The Argos are coming off a 34-26 home victory over the Edmonton Eskimos last weekend, their first over a West Division club this season.
A win over Montreal would help the Argos in two ways. First, they'd take the season series 2-1 and hold the tiebreaker against two conference rivals, having already secured it against Ottawa.
Secondly, the Argos would give themselves a six-point cushion on Montreal in the battle for second in the East Division. And that's crucial given it's clear only two Eastern clubs will qualify for the post-season.
The Argos have a glorious opportunity to take control of matters in the East Division. Montreal has dropped five straight, is 0-5 on the road and averaging just 18.3 offensive points per game overall.
Ottawa (5-7-1) remains atop the East but has quarterback issues. Trevor Harris (shoulder) is on the six-game injured list and backup Drew Tate suffered an arm-shoulder injury in last weekend's 29-11 win over Montreal and isn't expected to play when the Redblacks visit the Winnipeg Blue Bombers this week.
That would leave former NFLer Ryan Lindley under centre after he completed 7-of-14 passes for 76 yards and an interception in relief of Tate versus Montreal.
And after reeling off two straight wins, Hamilton (2-9) dropped a 27-19 loss to Saskatchewan and faces the B.C. Lions (5-6) on Saturday night. East Division teams are a dismal 4-21-1 versus their Western rivals this year.
Toronto is the only East Division team to have a winning home record (4-2) and has the best head-to-head record (4-2) within the conference. The Argos also didn't have starter Ricky Ray for their 21-9 road loss to Montreal on Aug. 11 as Jeff Mathews and Cody Fajardo were a combined 18-of-28 passing for 142 yards.
The following week, Ray was 35-of-43 for 377 yards and four TDs in a 38-6 home win against the Als. On Saturday, Ray was 22-of-32 passing for 224 yards with a touchdown and interception against Edmonton as running back James Wilder Jr. ran for 190 yards and TD on 11 carries.
Montreal's Darian Durant has played in both games this season against Toronto, completing 32-of-54 passes for 330 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. But the Alouettes have often been their own worst enemy this year as they're the league's most penalized team and are tied for second in most interceptions surrendered (11).
Ottawa Redblacks versus Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Friday night).
Tate will dress but Lindey is expected to make his first CFL start for Ottawa. Lindley does have NFL experience with Arizona, San Diego, New England and Indianapolis and Greg Ellingson (72 catches, league-high 1,123 yards, seven TDs) and Brad Sinopoli (81 catches, 908 yards, three TDs) anchor the Redblacks' receiving corps. Winnipeg (8-3) comes off the bye having won seven-of-eight games but defensive lineman Jamaal Westerman (upper-body injury) is out for the rest of the year.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats versus B.C. Lions (Friday night).
Defensive end Alex Bazzie returns for B.C. (6-6), which should boost its pass rush. But quarterback Jonathon Jennings threw three picks in last weekend's 27-13 loss to Calgary and has 12 on the season, tops among CFL starters. Jeremiah Masoli makes a fourth straight start for Hamilton (2-9), which is 13-30 all-time in Vancouver and 0-7 against West Division teams this year. Veteran receiver Andy Fantuz joined the Ticats' practice squad this week but won't play.
Calgary Stampeders versus Saskatchewan Roughriders (Saturday afternoon)
Veteran quarterback Kevin Glenn (hand) returns for Saskatchewan (6-5) after missing last weekend's 27-19 road win in Hamilton. The Riders have won four-of-five games and are 4-1 at home but endured a rash of injuries versus the Ticats. Calgary (10-1-1) has won eight straight and is 15-0 versus West Division squads while boasting a CFL-best 4-1 road record. The Stamps' defence is allowing 17 points per game and has forced 30 turnovers, both league-best marks.
Last week: 2-2.