CFL Countdown

STEVE COAD -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

Winnipeg (4-2) at Hamilton (1-5)

The skinny: Today, 7 p.m. (TSN). After a single win, the Ticats returned to their losing ways last week, bowing 41-38 to the Montreal Alouettes. Sure, the 'Cats showed their claws against what is arguably the CFL's best team, but a loss (even by a Damon Duval field goal with 11 seconds left) is still a loss. The Ticats' braintrust goofed in firing head coach Greg Marshall after a 0-4 start. Marshall would have been a big part of the Tiger-Cats' future -- he and young talent that could have grown together. I think the Ticats will pull things together as the season goes on, but I still don't believe they'll catch a playoff spot. No, the third and final East Division playoff berth will go to the surprising Bombers. That's what makes this early season game critical. If the Tiger-Cats hope to have a chance to prove me and other prognosticators wrong, they'd better win tonight. I'll give 'em this one.

Cody's call: Tiger-Cats 20-17

Montreal (5-0) at Edmonton (2-3)

The skinny: Today, 10 p.m. (TSN). The Alouettes, especially gunslinging quarterback Anthony Calvillo, are at the top of their game, No. 1 in the CFL in points per game average (34.2) and tied for the top in fewest points per game surrendered (21.2). This, potentially, could be a tough night for the Eskimos, who are a running game away from having a complete offence. The defending Grey Cup champion Esks and Argos are the only teams in the league averaging less than 20 points a game, a big reason both are sub-.500 heading into this weekend. Calvillo threw for 319 yards and four TDs against Hamilton, hitting Ben Calhoun 11 times for 151 yards and spreading 18 other completions between seven guys. Stop us if you can, the Als are daring. Good luck Eskies, who always have a better chance at home.

Cody's call: Alouettes 37-27

B.C. (3-3) at Toronto (2-3)

The skinny: Tomorrow, 7 p.m. (CBC). The Argos have question marks on offence, quarterback and running back in particular, but their defence and special teams -- especially kick returns -- are right there with the best in the CFL. This game pits Toronto's D, which is allowing just 21.2 points a game (to share No. 1 in the league with the Alouettes), against the Lions' well-oiled attack, which is averaging 31 points, second only to the Als' 34.3. The Lions unveiled a new threat in last week's 43-20 undoing of the Calgary Stampeders. With running back Antonio Warren on the shelf, newcomer Joe Smith piled up 167 all-purpose yards, including a 66-yard touchdown scamper. The Argos? They just might have their heart and soul, Damon Allen, back at QB. The 43-year-old grandpa says the broken middle finger on his throwing hand has heeled enough to let him play. The Argos, of course, are playing it close to the vest in terms of his participation against the Lions. My guess: Look for Allen to play, especially if the Argos' makeshift attack sputters early.

Cody's call: Argos 27-23

Calgary (3-3) at Saskatchewan (2-3)

The skinny: Tomorrow, 10 p.m. (TSN). Andy Fantuz has arrived in the pros. In last week's 26-23 loss to the Argos, the ex-Western Mustang and Chatham McGregor high school star gave CFL fans a taste of the brilliance Canadian university football fans have seen the last four years. Fantuz, who has been told by 'Riders head coach Danny Barrett and receivers coach Tim Kearse that he needs to get bigger and stronger, merely snagged five Kerry Joseph passes for 51 yards. He also recovered an onside kicked late in the fourth quarter that gave the Roughies life. He played nicely to the camera, smiling and saying hi to buddies back home when a camera turned its focus directly on him. The Stamps have lost two straight and pivot Henry Burris is struggling -- so badly, he was yanked in favour of Danny McManus last week.

Cody's call: Roughriders 31-17

Season record Last week: 2-2 Overall: 11-11


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