CFL Week 18: Picks and power rankings

 

 
 
 
 
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will be looking to avenge their loss last week to Henry Burris (above) and the Ottawa Redblacks as the playoffs loom.
 

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will be looking to avenge their loss last week to Henry Burris (above) and the Ottawa Redblacks as the playoffs loom.

Photograph by: Darryl Dyck, The Canadian Press Files, Ottawa Citizen

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VANCOUVER — Which teams look to win this week’s matchups, and where do they rank in the league’s pecking order, in Week 18 of the Canadian Football League season:

FRIDAY

Montreal at Toronto, 4 p.m. PT, TSN

It's hard to find an example of a more chaotic, disjointed situation in professional sports than the one the Argos have had to deal with this season, with home games in Fort McMurray, Ottawa and now a second at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, the playpen of Toronto's fiercest rival. Improbable as it may be, the Argos still have an outside chance to finish first in the East, and Friday's game should get them back on track after a listless performance against Calgary. The Als' offence is making a desperate attempt to get it together under QB Kevin Glenn, but it's probably too late.

Pick: Argonauts.

Hamilton at B.C., 7 p.m. PT, TSN

At the time slotback Courtney Taylor suffered a season-ending foot injury last year, the B.C. Lions were 7-4. Since that Sept. 13, 2014, game, the team has lost 16 of 23 starts. Taylor, now healthy, can't get in the lineup - another peculiarity of the idiosyncratic Lions. As with most losing teams, B.C. does just enough to get close before making that one fatal mistake (a goal-line fumble by backup QB Greg McGhee last game) that keeps them from gaining traction. Still, they're inching closer to a complete effort.

Pick: Lions.

SATURDAY

Ottawa at Winnipeg, 1 p.m. PT, TSN

Henry Burris is not only having a season for the aged (he's 40), but his ability to stay upright and avoid the butcher's bill of quarterback injuries makes him a true marvel. One wonders where the Blue Bombers would be if Drew Willy had escaped catastrophe with similar aplomb. His replacement, Matt Nichols, threw three picks last Friday in Ottawa, a game that wasn't close, except on the scoreboard. Still, the Blue Bombers blew 12 of a possible 17 kicking points against the Eskimos on Oct. 3, their last home game, and lost by one.

Pick: Blue Bombers.

Edmonton at Saskatchewan, 4 p.m. PT, TSN

Where would the Eskimos be without Sean Whyte? Probably not in a position to win their first division title since 2003. Cut loose by the Alouettes, the diminutive kicker contemplated retirement before being recruited by the Eskimos to replace the injured Grant Shaw. His onetime mentor and rival with the Lions, Paul McCallum, has been mothballed and replaced by Tyler Crapigna, 23, as the Roughriders look ahead to 2016.

Pick: Eskimos.

Bye: Calgary.

Last Week: 4-0.

Season: 44-25.

CFL POWER RANKINGS

1. Edmonton Eskimos — Despite throwing three interceptions, Mike Reilly's determination to succeed took his team from dire straits to overtime victory.

2. Calgary Stampeders — The Stamps are simply immune to losing two in a row. The last time it happened under John Hufnagel's watch was July 2012.

3. Hamilton Tiger-Cats — Early reviews for the Zach Collaros replacement are favourable, as Jeff Mathews quarterbacked the Ticats to their first win in Montreal since October 2002.

4. Ottawa Redblacks — Damon Allen was the last QB to take Ottawa to a playoff game (1994) before the new Mr. Longevity, Henry Burris, arrived in Bytown.

5. Toronto Argonauts — Just over 3,000 showed up to see the Argos lose to the Stampeders in Hamilton. Did they think it was York U playing Waterloo?

6. B.C. Lions — The Eskimos pulverized the Lions' running game as B.C. failed to close out another game it was capable of winning.

7. Winnipeg Blue Bombers — At 5-11, the Blue Bombers are still very much in the playoff hunt. Ridiculous notion, given repeated ineptitude.

8. Montreal Alouettes — Expecting Kevin Glenn to manage after a crash course in the Alouette playbook earned the inevitable result.

9. Saskatchewan Roughriders — Vancouver-to-Regina commute over for Paul McCallum as the Riders go with youth (Tyler Crapigna) in rebuild.

mbeamish@vancouversun.com

Twitter.com/sixbeamers

 
 
 
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The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will be looking to avenge their loss last week to Henry Burris (above) and the Ottawa Redblacks as the playoffs loom.
 

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will be looking to avenge their loss last week to Henry Burris (above) and the Ottawa Redblacks as the playoffs loom.

Photograph by: Darryl Dyck, The Canadian Press Files, Ottawa Citizen

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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