Tiger-Cats eyeing playoff position

STEVE COAD -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:31 AM ET

Hamilton (3-10) at Ottawa (5-9)

The skinny: Tonight, 7:30 p.m. (TSN). Pssst, Renegades: Don't look now, but you're being followed. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats, thanks in large part to last Friday's 40-14 mauling of the Edmonton Eskimos, are clawing their way back into the playoff picture in the East Division. The importance of this game can hardly be overstated. Both teams need it badly, Ottawa to snap a five-game losing skid and pad a rapidly decreasing cushion between itself and Hamilton, and the Ticats to keep a good thing going and cut the Renegades' hold on third in the East to two points with a game in hand. The Ticats did a lot of things well against the Eskimos, including outgaining them 141-57 on the ground (Troy Davis, traded to the Eskimos this week, lugged the ball 21 times for 108 yards for the Tabbies). They'll no doubt try to establish the run early against Ottawa, the CFL's second-worst run defence. Usually, getting the run going means good things will happen in other areas, too.

Cody's call: Ticats 33-23

Montreal (7-6) at Saskatchewan (8-6)

The skinny: Tomorrow, 7 p.m. (TSN, RDS). The Roughriders are on a five-game winning roll, taking out CFL big boys B.C., Edmonton and Toronto in the last three weeks. The Alouettes have won two in a row and three of their last four, so there's momentum on both sides. The Roughies don't have a lot of offensive stats to brag about, but the defence is ranked second overall in yards surrendered, second against the pass and third versus the run and Corey Holmes is devilishly difficult to bring down on kick returns. The Als dominated an Aug. 4 meeting between the teams 42-13. But that was a different Roughrider posse: Saskatchewan was ravaged by injuries and smack in the middle of a five-game losing skid; Nealon Greene was at QB, not yet replaced by Marcus Crandell; and the Riders were on the road where they're 3-4 (they're 5-2 at Taylor Field).

Cody's call: Roughriders 35-24

Edmonton (8-6) at Toronto (8-5)

The skinny: Monday, 1 p.m. (CBC). The good news is that Canada's public broadcaster is back in business with the settling this week of its labour strife. Long gone, but neither forgotten nor completely forgiven, is the "stadium experience," a disaster of an idea in which the stadium announcers provided the home side's version of play-by-play. In any case, just when we thought the Eskimos were getting their act together by upending the previously unbeaten Lions 37-20 on Sept. 24, the Esks were crushed like grapes just a week later by the Tiger-Cats. But thanks to those same Tabbies, the Eskimos are a lot better team today than they were just a few days ago. Yup, Edmonton now has a running game. The Esks acquired Troy Davis from the Ticats via a trade Wednesday, giving their offence the balance it's been lacking. For all the Argos' strengths on defence, they struggle against the run.

Cody's call: Argonauts 27-24

B.C. (11-2) at Winnipeg (4-10)

The skinny: Monday, 4 p.m. (CBC). It's doubtful fans will rush to gobble up this second helping of Thanksgiving Day football fare. This game has "turkey" written all over it. It's just the matchup the Lions need to rid themselves of the two-game losing funk that's followed their season-opening 11-game winning streak. The Lions already have clinched a playoff spot in the West, but they have problems, too. No. 1 quarterback Dave Dickenson suffered a concussion against the Roughriders last week, joining backup Casey Printers (sore shoulder) on the sidelines, and Duncan O'Mahony is booting like a place-kicker badly in need of a pair of glasses. The Bombers are done like turkey dinners. They're capable of producing offensive highlights, but their overburdened defence sits a distant last in all yards-surrendered categories. Indeed, the Bombers have been pummelled for 6,310 total yards, nearly 1,000 more than next-worst Calgary.

Cody's call: Lions 37-20

Season record

Last week: 2-2; overall: 39-22


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