Friday's CFL action: What bettors need to know

Montreal Alouettes at Toronto Argonauts (-1, 51.5)

Their playoff positions in the East Division are already set, but the Toronto Argonauts and the Montreal Alouettes still have much to play for Friday night. The Argonauts need a victory to finish the regular season with a winning record at home, while the Alouettes can earn a split in the season series with their second win in Toronto. Montreal, which won 20-9 in its last visit, is coming off a heartbreaking road loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and could use a victory to end its tumultuous season that saw its coach fired and star quarterback lost for the season.

The Argonauts offense is healthy again now that quarterback Ricky Ray and running back Chad Kackert have returned. Ray threw for a career-high 505 yards last week and has the CFL record for completion percentage (77.2), but Toronto will rest the veteran Friday with the division already clinched. Backup quarterback Zach Collaros will need to be smart against an Alouettes' defense that leads the league in interceptions with 24 and allows the fewest passing yards per game in the East Division by a wide margin.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, TSN

ABOUT THE ALOUETTES (7-10): Slotback S.J. Green made a spectacular one-handed catch against Hamilton last week, putting an exclamation mark on a season that already includes career-highs in receiving yards (1,183) and touchdown catches (13). Green and Duron Carter provide great targets for new quarterback Troy Smith, who has taken over the starting job with his strong throwing arm that has created touchdown passes of more than 60 yards in each of his first two starts. Smith does have accuracy issues - completing 45-of-86 passes - and tends to slow down in the second half, but that should not overshadow the promising start to what could be a long CFL career.

ABOUT THE ARGONAUTS (11-6):
Slotback Chad Owens is 21 receiving yards away from reaching 1,000 for the second straight season, while leading the league with 2,298 total combined yards despite missing time due to injuries. Toronto signed linebacker Aaron Maybin - a former first-round pick of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills in 2009 - to bolster its defense, which is second-worst in the league with 38 sacks. Ray was named offensive player of the week for his performance against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, which included a team-record 21 consecutive completions.

TRENDS:

* Under is 7-1 in the last eight meetings.
* Alouettes are 19-7 ATS in their last 26 meetings in Toronto.
* Alouettes are 5-1 ATS in their last six road games.
* Argonauts are 1-4 ATS in their last five home games.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. Alouettes LB Chip Cox and Argonauts LB Robert McCune are the top two tacklers in the league. Cox has 109 tackles, while McCune has 99.

2. Montreal allows 253.8 passing yards per game; Toronto allows a league-worst 304.2.

3. The Alouettes will head back to Guelph, Ont., to face Hamilton in the East Semifinal on Nov. 10, with Toronto awaiting the winner at home a week later.


Calgary Stampeders at BC Lions
(Pick, 52.5)


The BC Lions can’t advance in the West Division standings, but they have pride to play for when they finish their regular season at home against the division-leading Calgary Stampeders on Friday. The Lions are 7-1 at home and can tie Calgary for the best home record in the league with a victory, while the Stampeders are looking for their sixth straight win. Quarterback Kevin Glenn started Calgary’s last game, but Drew Tate finished it and looks to have regained his spot atop the depth chart.

Quarterback Buck Pierce provided the spark that snapped the Lions out of their three-game losing streak last week, tossing three touchdown passes against the Edmonton Eskimos in his first real action with BC since being traded. With Travis Lulay still nursing a shoulder injury and backup Thomas DeMarco struggling, the Lions will need Pierce’s veteran leadership if they hope to make a dent in the playoffs. A strong performance against the Stampeders, who have one of the top defenses in the league, would go a long way to giving BC some confidence heading into the postseason.

TV: 10 p.m. ET, TSN

ABOUT THE STAMPEDERS (14-3):
Defensive lineman Charleston Hughes and running back Jon Cornish were both named players of the week. Hughes received defensive honours for his three-sack performance, which vaulted him into the league lead with 18 - one shy of the team record - while Cornish was named Canadian player of the week for the seventh time in 2013 after adding to his league-leading rushing yards total of 1,799. Slotback Marquay McDaniel reached 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his fifth CFL season and has a career-high eight touchdown catches to go with one touchdown run.

ABOUT THE LIONS (10-7):
Pierce is 17-for-27 since arriving back in BC and has targets such as slotback Nick Moore, who reached 1,000 receiving yards for the first time and has replaced Geroy Simon as the Lions’ top option in the air. Linebacker Adam Bighill has had another stellar season with a team-leading 89 tackles and eight sacks despite missing time early on due to injuries. Cornerback Cord Parks has six interceptions - one behind league-leader Geoff Tisdale of Montreal.

TRENDS:

* Over is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
* Stampeders are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 meetings in BC.
* Over is 7-1 in Lions last eight Friday games.
* Stampeders are 4-0 ATS in their last four road games.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. Calgary leads the league with 61 sacks. The Stampeders and Lions are two of three teams to limit their opponents to fewer than 100 rushing yards per contest.

2. BC is second-last in the league in passing yards with 4,217.

3. Calgary is 7-2 against West Division foes, while the Lions are 5-4.

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