Playoff life on the line

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 2:20 PM ET

How many breaks do the Edmonton Eskimos need to catch before they can find the win column?

Clinging to their last playoff life, the Green and Gold have caught a massive break by facing a substantially depleted Saskatchewan Roughrider club tonight at Commonwealth Stadium.

With the Riders missing eight starters due to injury - including linebackers Reggie Hunt and Maurice Lloyd - the Esks could finally snap a four-game losing streak.

"That certainly helps," said Edmonton receiver Kamau Peterson on the Riders missing the studs of their linebacking core.

Added Edmonton cornerback Omarr Morgan, who spent several years with the Riders: "Those are great players (Lloyd and Hunt). I think Lloyd is playing at an all-star level and Hunt is always a typical all-star."

Saskatchewan is also going to be without running back Wes Cates, wide receiver Matt Dominguez, defensive back James Johnson, defensive end Terrell Jurineack, receiver Yo Murphy and fullback Chris Szarka.

"We are going to miss them a lot," admitted Riders defensive end Fred Perry on Hunt and Lloyd, who are a big reason why Saskatchewan has the top-rated defence against the run.

"But we've got some guys that can step in and fill their shoes for this week."

A loss by Edmonton tonight will eliminate the club from playoff contention for the second straight season.

However, the Esks could catch another break before today's 7:30 p.m. kickoff if the B.C. Lions beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the early game of the TSN doubleheader.

A B.C. win would mean the Riders couldn't finish first in the West Division and would be stuck with a second-place finish -- hosting their first home playoff game since 1988.

Without a first-place carrot dangling in front of them, the Riders would surely curtail the playing time of select starters tonight.

When asked if starting quarterback Kerry Joseph would play the whole game, Riders head coach Kent Austin replied: "The likelihood of that is not pretty good."

For a team on the brink of playoff extinction for two straight years, the locker-room is loose.

"These guys seem excited," continued Peterson. "I don't know if we just have a flair for the dramatic or what, but these guys seem excited. Hopefully we can come out and put up a good showing."

For the Esks to qualify for the post-season, Edmonton has to win its remaining two games and Montreal has to lose both of its games.

The Als play the Calgary Stampeders tomorrow (5 p.m., TSN).

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WHO HAS THE EDGE?

Quarterback - Saskatchewan Roughrider

Defensive line - Saskatchewan Roughrider

Running back - Saskatchewan Roughrider

Linebackers - Edmonton Eskimos

Receivers - Saskatchewan Roughrider

Secondary - Edmonton Eskimos

Offensive line - Saskatchewan Roughrider

Return game - Saskatchewan Roughrider

Coaching - Saskatchewan Roughrider

Kicking - Edmonton Eskimos


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