Edmonton Elks have one final opportunity to secure their first home victory of season

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It's the last chance Taylor Cornelius and the Edmonton Elks have to give their home fans something to cheer about.

Edmonton (2-8) hosts the Saskatchewan Roughriders (7-4) on Friday night in its final home game of the season. Commonwealth Stadium hasn't been a very happy place for the Elks, who've dropped all six of their contests there this year.

Dating back to 2019 — the CFL didn't play in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic — Edmonton has dropped seven straight home games, the longest such streak in club history.

Wins are crucial for Edmonton given it barely remains in playoff contention but the prospects of finally earning a home victory aren't good, Not only are the Riders battling the idle Calgary Stampeders (6-6) for second in the West — and home field for the division semifinal — they also boast a 3-2 road record and have a better mark within the conference (3-4) than the Elks (2-4).

Saskatchewan has registered consecutive wins over Calgary and Montreal while Edmonton has dropped six straight contests overall.

It's been a rough season for Cornelius as the rookie is winless in his four starts. Veteran Trevor Harris was under centre for both of Edmonton's victories before being dealt to the Montreal Alouettes.

Cornelius will start against Saskatchewan but his days as Edmonton's No. 1 quarterback appear numbered. Earlier this week, the Elks signed Nick Arbuckle to a one-year extension after acquiring him from the Toronto Argonauts.

The six-foot-five, 232-pound Cornelius has completed 83-of-139 passes (59.7 per cent) for 1,062 yards and thrown more interceptions (six) than touchdowns (four). He has also rushed for 92 yards on 15 carries.

Arbuckle was 2-2 as a starter in Toronto, completing 96-of-153 passes (62.7 per cent) for 1,158 yards. He also had more interceptions (six) than touchdowns (five) and ran 17 times for 25 yards and scored two TDs.

Edmonton certainly has a jam-packed finish to its season. After hosting Saskatchewan, the Elks end their campaign with road games against the Riders, Toronto and B.C.

And even if Edmonton emerges victorious Friday, it hasn't won consecutive games against Saskatchewan since 1957

However, if Edmonton is to have a chance, it will have to be leading after three quarters. Since 2017, Saskatchewan is 27-0 when it takes an advantage into the fourth.

Saskatchewan has also registered just two turnovers in its last three games and is a stellar plus-nine over that stretch.

Pick: Saskatchewan.


B.C. Lions versus Hamilton Tiger-Cats (Friday night)

At Hamilton, the Ticats (6-5) can clinch a playoff berth with a second straight home victory and third consecutive win overall. Jeremiah Masoli threw for 357 yards — his third straight 300-yard passing performance — and three TDs in last week's 39-23 road win over Edmonton. B.C. (4-6) has lost five straight, including a 31-29 overtime decision last week to Toronto after kicker Jimmy Camacho missed three fourth-quarter field goals. But the Lions are 3-3 on the road and 3-1 versus East Division teams.

Pick: Hamilton.


Toronto Argonauts versus Ottawa Redblacks (Saturday afternoon)

At Ottawa, Toronto (7-4) has won four straight and seven of its last eight versus the Redblacks (2-10). What's more, Argos starter McLeod Bethel-Thompson is 5-0 all-time versus Ottawa. And Toronto's defence returned two Caleb Evans interceptions for touchdowns in their last meeting, a 35-16 decision at BMO Field on Oct, 6. After a successful CFL debut, Evans threw nine interceptions over his next four starts but had none and a TD pass in last week's 26-13 loss to Calgary.

Pick: Toronto.


Montreal Alouettes versus Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Saturday night)

At Winnipeg, Trevor Harris makes his first start for Montreal (6-5). Harris was 12-of-15 passing for 123 yards and a TD after replacing Matt Schiltz in last week's 19-14 loss to Saskatchewan. Harris is 2-5 as a starter versus the Blue Bombers (10-1) but has thrown 10 TD passes and only two interceptions. With a win or B.C. loss to Hamilton, the Alouettes will cement a playoff berth. Winnipeg has already clinched first in the West Division and is 6-0 at IG Field this season.

Pick: Winnipeg.


Last week: 4-0.

Overall: 25-25

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 4, 2021.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

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