Feels like East-West Bowl

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:13 AM ET

In a season full of scheduling oddities, here comes one that makes things interesting for the stretch drive.

With two-thirds of the season complete, the CFL is preparing for the equivalent of the East-West Bowl.

Over the next two weeks, there are doubleheaders between East Division and West Division teams.

Some have more intrigue than others, as the top two teams, Montreal and Calgary, kick off a crucial series, while there isn't much sizzle to the Hamilton and Edmonton series.

Usually at this time of year, the cross-country matchups are complete and it's mostly divisional battles dominating the schedule.

But there are plenty of peculiar things about this year's schedule (Hamilton and Winnipeg playing four times in seven weeks, Edmonton visiting Calgary twice in three weeks, Calgary visiting B.C. twice in three weeks).

The most important (at least for the teams involved) is the B.C. Lions and Winnipeg Blue Bombers series, which has actually become somewhat of a divisional battle.

If the Blue Bombers (3-9) have any hope of crossing over for a playoff berth, they need to sweep the suddenly surging Lions (4-8).

Right now, the divisions each won 10 times in 20 head-to- head matchups and the next two weeks will likely decide which way the balance of power has shifted.

OPENING DRIVE

Stamps QB Henry Burris' 27.1 passer rating against the Lions was his worst outing since Oct. 6, 2006, also against B.C., when he recorded the embarrassing minus 0.1 rating. Burris had a passer rating of 98.2 or better in seven of eight games prior to Saturday ... Alouettes R Ben Cahoon hit the 1,000-reception mark at a good time, as his outing against the Bombers helped lead the team to a comeback. Cahoon needs just six receptions to pass Terry Vaughn for the all-time lead, and that could happen by halftime against Calgary ... For the first time in six games, only Ricky Ray threw a pass for the Edmonton Eskimos. It's probably not a coincidence the Eskimos beat the Argos 24-6.

ENDZONE TOSS

Riders RB Wes Cates has slowed down on yardage but he keeps scoring. Cates is on pace for 21 TDs this season, which would tie him at third spot for most in a single season with Allen Pitts. Milt Stegall has the most ever with 23 for Winnipeg in 2002, while Cory Philpot is second with 22 for B.C. in 1995 ... Those hard-luck Blue Bombers must be testing fan patience. Their last three losses have been by four points each time and the 40 points they scored against Montreal was the most in a loss since 2000 ... While DeAndra' Cobb has heated up for the Ticats, moving from eighth in rushing yards to fourth in a matter of a few weeks, backup RB Marcus Thigpen has gone cold on returns. He had just nine yards on three punt returns against the Riders.

EXTRA POINTS

The Alouettes are going to deal with some adversity over the next few weeks as wide-out Kerry Watkins will sit due to a shoulder injury. Watkins will be in tough to reach the 1,000-yard mark for the sixth straight season, as the injury could keep him out until the playoffs. He needs 141 yards to get to the magical mark ... Hard to remember a more spectacular debut and disappointing finish than Greg Carr's first game with the Bombers. He caught four passes for 185 yards but left the game with a shin injury ... There are plenty of former NFLers in the United Football League but how about some former CFL players. Zeke Moreno, Kelly Malveaux, Trey Young, Otis Amey, Tyler Clutts and Hakim Hill are just a few of of the former CFLers trying to get back to prominence in the fledgling loop.

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca


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