Last week was a little all over the place. Hamilton beat Toronto which was pretty straight forward, Edmonton got past Ottawa in a game I thought they would come out strong, The Riders fell absolutely flat against Winnipeg and B.C. took down the CFL leaders in Calgary. I went 2-2 last week to make it to 42-23 straight up this season. This week is all divisional matchups. Hamilton is in Ottawa in a battle of the two best teams in the East. The winner will take over first place. B.C. can clinch a playoff spot with a win over Edmonton, Montreal takes on Toronto in a battle of the basement and the Riders are in Calgary as the league’s top two teams in terms of record battle it out at McMahon. Let’s see how I see week 19 playing out.
(8-7) Hamilton Tiger-Cats @ (8-7) Ottawa Redblacks Friday 7:00pm ET
The Tiger-Cats have won two in a row and come into the game tied with the Redblacks who have lost two in a row. Hamilton seems to be peaking at the right time as the league heads towards playoffs. Hamilton has looked pretty good lately and it falls on the hands of the offence. Jeremiah Masoli has been very good especially in the back half of the season. His connection with Brandon Banks last week was very evident as Banks had almost 180 yards to go along with a touchdown. If that connection can continue this week it could lead to the Ti-Cats taking over sole possession of first in the east. For Ottawa they need to get it together fast or they will be hosting a crossover team from the west. It happened to them last year as well and they fell to the Riders. Ottawa needs to have their defence play exceptionally against a tough Hamilton offence. They were right near the top of most categories defensively at one point this season but have fallen off a little bit. This week will be huge for them if the defence can play well. I really think Ottawa is going to step up on both sides of the ball this week and end their mini two game losing streak.
Prediction: Redblacks win 33-30
(8-8) Edmonton Eskimos @ (8-7) B.C. Lions Friday 10:00pm ET
The Eskimos got a much needed win last week against Ottawa. They had not player well recently and were in danger of being kicked out of the playoffs. This week they play a tough Lions team who has really stepped up on defence and plays very confidently when Travis Lulay is under centre. Edmonton’s defence is going to have to play lights out and their offence is going to have to have another good game after playing so terribly for a few weeks in a row. For B.C. they can clinch a playoff spot with a win this week. I am so impressed with how this team has turned it around mid-season and looks like a legit Grey Cup contender recently. For me it all started against Edmonton in week 9 for the Lions. Their defence played so fast and made a (at the time) elite Eskimo offence look pedestrian. Since that week they have had some speed bumps but it seemed like they have always been in games since then. I think the Lions clinch a playoff spot this week and deal a serious blow to Edmonton’s chances.
Prediction: Lions win 29-24
(3-12) Montreal Alouettes @ (3-12) Toronto Argonauts Saturday 4:00pm ET
Montreal is still looking for their first win with Johnny Football at QB. This week is as good as any to make it happen. Montreal has had a season everyone could have predicted but if Manziel and the Als could pull out a win together at the end of the season it could build momentum for next year. The offence has showed slight progress each week but the offensive line is brutal. Manziel is pressured on almost every play and it has to be tough to make even one read when someone is in your face almost as soon as the ball is snapped. The key to a Montreal win this week is if the Oline can hold a block. For Toronto they stuck with Hamilton for a little bit last week but couldn’t pull the upset off. James Franklin went back under centre for the Argos last week, he threw for almost 300 yards and two touchdowns and it certainly wasn’t his fault they lost. If the offence can have a big week against Montreal it might instil some confidence in Franklin going forward. I’m going to go out on a limb this week and say Johnny Manziel will pick up his first win in the CFL in week 19.
Prediction: Alouettes win 27-25
(10-6) Saskatchewan Roughriders @ (12-3) Calgary Stampeders Saturday 7:00pm ET
The Riders looked awful on offence last week. Which isn’t a huge surprise as they haven’t been great on that side of the ball all year. The defence really wasn’t that bad besides a couple of big plays last week but they will still want to tighten it up. Zach Collaros really needs to gain confidence for himself, the team and the fan base this week with a good showing. You can’t be doubting your quarterback going into the playoffs so he needs to play well this week. For Calgary they come off a loss to B.C. in a game they just didn’t look like themselves. Calgary is so injured at the receiver position it is ridiculous and it has to be hard for Bo Levi Mitchell to develop chemistry when there is new receivers in every single week. The Stamps D had a rare off week last week and I doubt that will happen two weeks in a row. I see Calgary getting back in the win column this week based on the fact that I can’t remember the last time they lost two in a row. But as it usually is between these two teams, I see it being a tight game right down to the finish.
Prediction: Stampeders win 35-32
This week there are about a million different playoff scenarios that could play out, specifically in the west. The Riders can clinch a home playoff game with a win and a B.C. loss, Calgary can clinch the division with a win and B.C. can grab a playoff spot with a win. This week is going to be crazy and it should be a lot of fun to watch. Thanks for reading.