Weekly Predictor: Lions have advantage in cat fight

CFL

We have ourselves a cat fight in Week 15! The Lions play host to the Tiger-Cats at BC Place, and quite honestly, it looks like the Lions may have the advantage in this one. The Black and Gold are a little more banged up in positions that certainly make a big impact in their execution of their game plan and the Lions have been able to lean on a rolling defence lately.

Matt Nichols remains the starting quarterback in Winnipeg as they’ll look to fight for their playoff hopes in the final third of the season. Mike Reilly and the Eskimos travel to the nation’s capital this week as well and they too, although in a better position standings-wise than Winnipeg, will be wanting to play lights-out football to ensure their playoff seeding. Meanwhile, in Toronto, Duron Carter will be facing his former team for the first time since the Riders released him last month.

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With the first game tabbed to kick off on Friday, here are my picks for Week 12 of the CFL season.

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MONTREAL @ WINNIPEG

Friday | 8:30 p.m. ET

Matt Nichols, despite his recent struggles, remains the starting quarterback in Winnipeg as the Bombers look to face an Alouettes team with their own troubles at the signal-caller position. (Johany Jutras, CFL.ca)

Johnny Manziel gets his third start with a defence that has been playing better football of late. Between Manziel and Antonio Pipkin, the two have combined for one touchdown pass and 12 interceptions. It doesn’t exactly instill confidence but it is what these two can do by extending the play that can cause some defences some headaches.

Meanwhile, Winnipeg is trying to end a four game winning streak as they stick with Matt Nichols at quarterback. After the bye week, Winnipeg is a little more healthy with Weston Dressler likely making his return to the lineup. While he’s not a big play receiver, he is a reliable target for Nichols to look to on key downs.

I’m intrigued by both quarterbacks in Friday’s game as both have a lot to prove. But I’m going with a proven winner in the CFL over Manziel.

PICK: WINNIPEG (90% confidence)

EDMONTON @ OTTAWA

Saturday | 4:00 p.m. ET

After spending Week 14 off on a bye, Mike Reilly and the Eskimos look to ramp things up in their final six games of the season. (Walter Tychnowicz, CFL.ca)

Ottawa is coming off a big win in Saskatchewan after a few weeks where Trevor Harris did not look himself.

However, Ottawa now plays one of the top offenses in the league after taking on one of the worst and having some success keeping them out of the end zone.

Mike Reilly had a week of rest after putting up 48 points against the Calgary Stampeders defence. The Eskimos definitely have the firepower to compete with the REDBLACKS if William Powell and company have a similar day to the one they had in Saskatchewan.

I think this has the makings of a high scoring shootout.

PICK: EDMONTON (25% confidence)

SASKATCHEWAN @ TORONTO

Saturday | 7:00 p.m. ET

Duron Carter may have a few things to prove when it comes to Saturday’s tilt against the very team that released him last month. (Adam Gagnon, CFL.ca)

Duron Carter on the field against the team that cut him a few weeks ago. It’s felt like Carter was made the scapegoat for a lackluster start to the season for the Riders and then they rallied off four straight wins.

A loss last week again has the offence under fire in Saskatchewan, although their defence had their worst effort of the season.

In fact, Sam Eguavoen said it after the game that he wouldn’t want to be the team that plays the Riders next. That just so happens to be Toronto.

What do the Argonauts look like after the bye week? McLeod Bethel-Thompson has to be better for the Argonauts to get back in the race, with their games closing in on must win territory.

PICK: SASKATCHEWAN (50% confidence)

HAMILTON @ B.C.

Saturday | 10:00 p.m. ET

With the injury news on Travis Lulay, Jonathan Jennings has another go at leading the Lions offence. (The Canadian Press)

Jonathon Jennings has another shot at proving he can lead the Lions after Travis Lulay is injured again. Jennings wasn’t great but he was able to add a running dimension to the offence with 46 yards rushing. Jennings being allowed to get out of the pocket may be the way to succeed.

Added to the Lions is a much improved defence over the last few weeks.

Hamilton, meanwhile, is missing a big weapon in Brandon Banks who missed Tuesday’s practice. The Tiger-Cats saw the Stampeders run away and then watched Ottawa take over sole spot of top spot in the East Division.

Without Banks, and already without Jalen Saunders, the speed of the offence is diminished. The Lions have DeVier Posey much more prepared to go in this one as well to make some big plays.

PICK: B.C. (25% confidence)

TSN FANTASY PICKS

QUARTERBACK Mike Reilly – Yep, I’m investing in the quarterback to score some big points. I think as much as Ottawa’s defence is pretty good, I think the scoring in this one could be high and that means Reilly putting up touchdowns in the air and on the ground.

RUNNING BACKS Andrew Harris/ William Stanback – Going with the head to head matchup in this one. Harris should be called upon to take the pressure off of Matt Nichols and he’s always got the potential for big games at home. Watch the lineups out of Montreal for the running backs but Stanback has some big play potential and if Manziel has to check it down, his running back could be the one who sees some targets.

RECEIVERS/FLEX Greg Ellingson/ DeVier Posey/ Duron Carter – Ellingson has been much better in the last half of the season than he was early. The Eskimos have given up some big yards to slot receivers, so why not bet on Ellingson to see a big game. DeVier Posey is in week 2 and was a top target in his first game in B.C. and I expect the role will only increase against Hamilton. Duron Carter … why not? This is the same guy who had an interception for a touchdown with a lot of drama going into a game against Bo and the Stamps last year. Why not expect a big game against the team who cut him. A big boom/bust play.

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