Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Hamilton Tiger-Cats (-10.5, 51.5)
Quarterback Henry Burris and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats looked firmly in control last week when they won their second straight game and second of four contests against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Tiger-Cats will try to defeat Winnipeg for a third time when they host the Blue Bombers on Saturday. Burris, who leads the league with 2,136 passing yards, welcomed wide receiver Andy Fantuz back from injury with four passes for 29 yards in the 37-18 victory over Winnipeg, while Hamilton also recorded its second straight game with more than 100 rushing yards.
The CFL debut of quarterback Max Hall did not turn around the Blue Bombers, who fired offensive coordinator Gary Crowton following their fifth straight loss. Hall threw for 241 yards and found chemistry with slotback Terrence Edwards (eight completions, 172 yards), but Winnipeg still trails the league in points for (153) and against (210). Hall will be under center again Saturday, this time with Marcel Bellefeuille calling plays as the Blue Bombers search for answers in what is quickly becoming a lost season.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, TSN
ABOUT THE BLUE BOMBERS (1-6): Defensive end Alex Hall recorded his league-leading ninth sack last week, matching his total from 2012. Winnipeg’s defensive line has accounted for the majority of the team’s league-leading 27 sacks, but its secondary allows 298.6 passing yards per game - more than any team other than the Toronto Argonauts. Edwards leads the Blue Bombers with 290 receiving yards, but only six receivers have more than 100.
ABOUT THE TIGER-CATS (3-4): Rookie running back C.J. Gable recorded 147 yards from scrimmage last week and has established himself as Burris’ main option on the ground. Wide receivers Greg Ellingson and Bakari Grant have each recorded more than 400 receiving yards, while Samuel Giguere has 394 and Fantuz had 155 in Week 1 before getting injured. Defensive back Raymond Brown caught Hamilton’s first interception of the season in the third quarter against Winnipeg, while Rico Murray had a sack, an interception and a forced fumble in the contest.
* Blue Bombers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 road games.
* Tiger-Cats are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games.
* Under is 6-0 in the last 6 meetings in Hamilton.
* Under is 4-1 in Blue Bombers last 5 Saturday games.
1. Burris has thrown for more than 300 yards in four of seven starts.
2. If the Blue Bombers lose their sixth straight game, it will be their longest losing streak since they dropped seven in a row in 1999.
3. The four-game season series between Hamilton and Winnipeg concludes in Winnipeg on the final week of the regular season.
Saskatchewan Roughriders at Edmonton Eskimos (+3.5, 53)
The Edmonton Eskimos keep seeing their fourth-quarter comeback attempts fall short, while the Saskatchewan Roughriders needed 10 points in the final 62 seconds to get back in the win column last week. The Eskimos hope the luck will even out when they host the Roughriders on Saturday looking to snap a five-game losing skid. The Eskimos have dropped their last three contests by a combined nine points and managed to score a season-high 33 against the Toronto Argonauts last week on the strength of quarterback Mike Reilly’s first 500-yard game, but have not won since Week 2.
Fortune smiled on Saskatchewan last week in the form of a 65-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Darian Durant to wide receiver Taj Smith, which tied the game and set the stage for Chris Milo’s game-winning field goal, but the Roughriders have not looked as dominant over the last two games as they did in their first five. Saskatchewan running back Kory Sheets, who has a league-leading 919 rushing yards, was limited to 74 last week. Perhaps a visit to the site of their 39-18 Week 1 victory will help the Roughriders regain their early season form.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, TSN
ABOUT THE ROUGHRIDERS (6-1): Wide receiver Rob Bagg, who missed the entire 2011 season due to injuries, left last week’s game in the second quarter with a knee injury and is considered day-to-day. Slotback Geroy Simon caught the 1,000th pass of his career last week and the CFL all-time receiving yards leader has 208 with Saskatchewan. Linebacker Renauld Williams is leading the defense with six sacks and also has an interception and 28 tackles. Kick returner Jock Sanders dropped a punt and a kickoff return last week, leading to two turnovers.
ABOUT THE ESKIMOS (1-6): Wide receiver Nate Coehoorn, who is on pace for a career-best season with 362 receiving yards, signed a contract extension through 2015. Slotback Fred Stamps leads the league with 573 receiving yards and wide receiver Car Koch has 360, giving Reilly plenty of options as he gets comfortable as a starter. The Eskimos are missing linebacker JC Sherritt and cornerback Aaron Grymes on defense, but defensive end Odell Willis stepped up in their absence last week, recording two sacks and forcing two fumbles.
* Roughriders are 0-9 ATS in their last 9 games in August.
* Eskimos are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 home games.
* Under is 14-5 in the last 19 meetings in Edmonton.
* Under is 4-0 in Roughriders last 4 games in Week 9.
1. Willis, who has five sacks with the Eskimos, had six last year as a member of the Roughriders.
2. Smith, who has four touchdowns, has caught passes of 61, 70, and 65 yards for his last three.
3. Edmonton is 0-3 against West Division opponents and 0-3 at home.