Two teams at opposite ends of the spectrum with regard to their success in 2013 get together in Edmonton tonight, as the Eskimos host the Calgary Stampeders in a West Division battle at Commonwealth Stadium.
Watch the action unfold live on TSN at 8:30pm et/5:30pm pt. And get in-depth player stats, Twitter Trender and more on TSN.ca's GameTracker.
Sporting the best overall record in the CFL after 16 weeks of action, Calgary sits alone atop the division standings with a mark of 12-3, giving the squad a four-point lead over Saskatchewan with three games left in the regular season. Obviously the Stamps have already locked up a spot in the 101st Grey Cup Playoffs, but there are still many variables to be worked out.
As it stands, if Calgary picks up a victory and Saskatchewan falls to British Columbia, the Stamps would clinch first place in the division. Should the Stampeders come out on top in this outing and the Lions defeat the Roughriders, then at least Calgary would be assured a home playoff game.
The good news for the Stamps is that they are going up against one of the worst teams in the league this year in Edmonton, a squad which has bowed in three straight and won a grand total of just three games in 15 opportunities. The Eskimos are in the division basement, as is Winnipeg over in the East with an identical record.
Edmonton's most recent downfall came against Saskatchewan last Saturday afternoon in an uninspired 14-9 final at Mosaic Stadium. The Esks were paced by Mike Reilly who converted 17-of-34 pass attempts for 244 yards and a pair of interceptions. With the defeat, Edmonton was officially eliminated from the playoffs.
Kicker Grant Shaw was responsible for seven of his team's points, thanks to a pair of field goals and a single, while the other two points came when the Roughriders conceded in the end zone. The Eskimos generated a mere 80 yards rushing, the leader there being Reilly who gained 42 yards, and were also hurt by 13 penalties which added up to a loss of 115 yards.
While Edmonton was ushering itself out of a potential playoff appearance, a long-shot at best, the Stampeders were breaking a 26-26 tie in the fourth quarter with a six-yard TD reception by Clifton Smith and a 65-yard interception return for a major by Chris Randle, en route to a third straight victory and the seventh in the last eight outings.
As he has been all season long, Calgary kicker Rene Paredes again played a key role in the win for the Stamps over BC, knocking through four of his five field goal attempts and finishing with 16 points overall.
Kevin Glenn stepped up and converted 22-of-37 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns, working his way through an interception and a couple of sacks. Also having an impressive outing for the hosts was running back Jon Cornish who registered a game-high 130 yards and a major on 15 attempts.
Cornish, who won the CFL rushing title a year ago with 1,457 yards, breaking the 56-year old single-season record for rushing by a Canadian in the process, has already bettered his efforts from 2012 in terms of yardage and tied his personal high with 11 rushing TDs. The non-import has gained at least 100 yards in three straight games and a total of seven times overall in 2013.
Not only does Cornish lead the league in rushing overall heading into this week, he is also tops in terms of yards from scrimmage with 1,865.
While Cornish is punishing defenses on the ground, Glenn and the passing attack is dicing up secondaries with close to 69 percent passing accuracy, leading to 31 touchdowns which is second only to Saskatchewan which has tossed 32 majors. With just 10 INTs, Calgary can also be proud of the fact that it is second in the CFL with an efficiency rating of 107.9.
In terms of the all-time series between these two programs, Edmonton owns a 123-87-3 advantage in regular-season contests dating back to 1949. However, recent history has not been nearly as kind to the Eskimos who have dropped six straight regular-season encounters. The most recent meeting took place during Week 10 with the Stamps slipping by in a 37-34 home win.
Edmonton, which scored just seven points through the first three quarters, made things interesting by posting 27 points in the fourth frame, but even that effort left the visitors short as Bo Levi Mitchell and Glenn combined to throw three touchdowns to Maurice Price.
Reilly had an up-and-down performance for Edmonton as he completed just 16- of-35 passes for 246 yards, was sacked six times and tossed a pair of interceptions, but at the same time he tallied four aerial majors.
Edmonton has nothing to play for at this point other than being a spoiler, but these final games might also be opportunities for some of the backups to get real-time experience and have on-the-job training for next year. But at the same time, the Eskimos can also throw caution to the win and go all out without having to worry about the ramifications, a fact that could work against Calgary.