Peerless Perry is hoping for Lucky 13—because his fortune has been running amok in recent weeks.
Hey, how was he to know Marsh Madness would turn into Marsh Badness? Or that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers would find winning just a little too much to handle?
This season is truly turning out to be one of the weirdest in several years because starting quarterbacks are falling like chopped trees—and composure is falling apart too, particularly in the fourth quarter.
But each week presents more opportunities to climb back above .500.
The big stories this weekend are Saskatchewan receiver Geroy Simon facing his former team in B.C.—needing only six catches to set the Canadian Football League record for career receptions—and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats playing the Montreal Alouettes in a neutral site game in Moncton.
And, oh yes, the second half of the Toilet Bowl Series between Edmonton and Winnipeg.
Edmonton (2-9) at Winnipeg (2-9)
Friday, 8:00 p.m. Investors Group Field
Why Edmonton can win: The Eskimos put it all together last week to finally win at home and snap a lengthy losing streak. The key was quarterback Mike Reilly, who was a one-man machine throwing and running the ball, destroying the Bombers’ blitz that had worked so well the week before against Saskatchewan.
Running back Hugh Charles had some impact in his return to the lineup after missing three games with an injury. Expect him to be more active in the return game.
The offensive line allowed three sacks, but that’s considerably better than in recent weeks. Facing a struggling backup quarterback, the Eskimos defence can afford to take some chances.
Why Winnipeg can win: The Bombers are back at home and coming off a huge win.
Mad Max Hall gets the start, even though he has shown little to be excited about so far. Justin Boltus is penciled in as the backup.
The big challenge facing offensive co-ordinator Marcel Bellefeuille is finding ways to make it easier for his young quarterback—likely by running the ball more often.
The defence should have learned from the last game what to do to avoid the same mistake, which means they should be spying the quarterback.
The spread: Edmonton -2 ½
The pick is: Edmonton to cover
Montreal (4-7) at Hamilton (5-6)
Saturday, 4:05 p.m. Moncton Stadium
Why Montreal can win: The Als are starting a struggling quarterback, Josh Neiswander, who replaces another struggling pivot, Tanner Marsh.
Montreal must maintain a dedicated ground game with Jerome Messam—he’s played well at points since his return, but has been a disappointment overall.
I wonder how much playing time Troy Smith will get and the effect he will have on the game. The offence hasn’t been successful, even with some great receivers, but the defence did a good job stopping the Stamps’ run game last week.
Why Hamilton can win: The Ti-Cats imploded against Calgary, but some of that was due to quarterback Henry Burris making some poor decisions. He should correct that.
This game appears to be easy pickings for Hamilton, particularly if the Ti-Cats’ defence can get to Neiswander early.
The spread: Hamilton -8
The pick is: Ti-Cats to cover
Toronto (7-4) at Calgary (9-2)
Saturday, 7:35 McMahon Stadium
Why Toronto can win: The Argos have rallied for back-to-back wins on the road.
Quarterback Zach Collaros is doing some good things—particularly moving in the pocket—and his receiving corps has been solid.
The game will be won or lost at the point of attack. The Stamps’ defensive front four is the best in the league and found ways to get untracked against Hamilton after some initial struggles, so the Argos’ offensive line has to be steady.
The Argos have proven to be a good road team, which is a point in their favour.
Why Calgary can win: The Stamps are unbeaten at home and showed some gumption when it mattered most last week against the Ti-Cats.
The Stamps already have the best record in the league and you know they will want to keep that steady play going.
The Argos have had some troubles against the run, so it will be a steady diet of running back Jon Cornish, who was held in check last week.
The spread: Calgary -7
The pick is: Argonauts and the points
B.C. (7-4) at Saskatchewan (8-3)
Sunday, 4:35 Mosaic Stadium
Why B.C. can win: Whether it is Buck Pierce or Thomas DeMarco, the Lions will be playing with a backup quarterback Sunday replacing the injured Travis Lulay.
The Lions are a weak road team, so that’s another issue.
But running back Andrew Harris woke up in the last game when he was given more touches, so that will be the Lions’ game plan.
Why Saskatchewan can win: They should have a sense of urgency—the Riders are 3-3 in their last six and have fallen to second in the West.
Quarterback Darian Durant has some injury issues but is expected to play through them. If he doesn’t, Drew Willy is capable as a replacement.
Geroy Simon should be motivated against his former team in his former home.
The big issue for the Riders is the loss of running back Kory Sheets. He is a huge part of their offence, so that will require a greater commitment to pass protection and a big effort from Sheets’ replacement.
The Riders’ defence has to be better. Facing an inexperienced quarterback is a chance to step up their recent poor play.
The spread: Saskatchewan -5
The pick is: Riders to cover
Record last week: 1-3
Record this season: 20-22-1