CFL Countdown

STEVE COAD -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

Hamilton (9-8-1) at Toronto (10-7-1)

The skinny: Tonight, 7:30 p.m. (CBC). The winner of this Eastern Division semifinal goes on to face the Montreal Alouettes (14-4) in the division final Nov. 14 at Olympic Stadium. The Grey Cup game is Nov. 21, 6 p.m., in Ottawa. Under the guise of maximizing their chances for playoff success, the Argos put down their guns (John Avery among them) before heading out to play the Als in last week's meaningless regular-season finale. I hate that. Football, above all else, is a game of momentum and the Argos have none after their 58-20 shellacking at the hands of the Als, who did a stellar job of prepping for the postseason without biffing their bodies or giving away their schemes. If the Argos can crank it back up for the not-too-shabby Tabbies, well, more power to them. I chatted with Score football analyst Duane Forde (a former Western Mustang, Argo and Ticat) last weekend at the Western-York game and we agree the Ticats will have their claws sharpened. Two weeks ago at SkyDome, the Argos got two kick returns for touchdowns from Bashir Levingston (97 and 115 yards) in building a 28-0 first-quarter lead, then hung on for dear life for a 38-31 win. Ticats QB Danny McManus threw four interceptions. The Argos simply can't expect such a plethora of dandy gifts again. McManus has thrown for more than 50,000 yards in his career so he knows what he's doing out there. I see the Ticats, the CFL's most improved team this season by more than a few kilometres, sky high for the upset. If they can cover kicks . . .

Cody's call: Ticats 27-23

Saskatchewan (9-9) at Edmonton (9-9)

The skinny: Sunday, 4 p.m. (CBC). The winner of this Western Division semifinal advances to the division final Nov. 14 against the B.C. Lions at B.C. Place. The Eskimos' advantage is that they're coming off a bye, meaning they'll likely be a little healthier and a little more rested than the Roughriders, who threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Lions last week in an attempt to secure hosting rights against the Eskimos. It didn't happen. B.C. prevailed 40-38, scoring a buzzer-beating touchdown when all seemed lost. The Roughies didn't get the win or the right to host but they did get a prize. Feeling they got a raw deal on a face-masking penalty during the Lions' winning drive, the Roughies are more than a little angry and fired up heading into Sunday's semi. After all, they battled like mad to score 22 straight points and take a 34-31 lead only to surrender it at the end. Anger in a good football team is potent fuel if channelled properly. Saskatchewan and Edmonton split this season, both teams winning at home by 24 points. The Roughriders are the CFL's hottest team, winning five straight before the B.C. loss, which won't cool them down in the least. The Eskimos are 7-2 at Commonwealth Stadium, the best home record in the West. The 'Riders are 3-6 on the road.

Cody's call: Eskimos 30-28

Regular-season record Last week: 1-3; final: 46-34


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