Edmonton (4-12) hosts the Toronto Argonauts (9-6) on Saturday having dropped a CFL-record 15 straight games at Commonwealth Stadium.
Toronto is currently atop the East Division and would clinch first if Ottawa defeats Montreal at TD Place on Friday and the Argos emerge victorious in Edmonton.
But there are three factors working against Toronto.
First of all, Ottawa (4-11) is 0-7 at home this season. And then there’s Toronto’s recent struggles at Commonwealth.
Toronto has dropped its last six games there, its last victory coming in 2013. On Saturday, the Argos and Elks will meet for the 100th time, with Edmonton holding a 54-44-1 overall advantage and 32-16-1 at home.
Toronto is 4-3 on the road but 3-4 versus West Division competition.
The Argos should have momentum on their side, coming off a 23-20 home win over the B.C. Lions on Saturday. Quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson finished 27-of-40 passing for 352 yards and a TD, a 37-yard toss to sophomore Canadian Tommy Nield late in the fourth quarter that gave the home team its winning margin.
Bethel-Thompson enters weekend action as the CFL’s leading passer (4,218 yards).
READ MORE: Blue Bombers blitz Elks 48-11
Edmonton dropped a 48-11 road decision to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (14-2), who cemented top spot in the West Division with the victory. Quarterback Taylor Cornelius was 11-of-24 passing for 137 yards and a TD for the Elks.
Winnipeg accumulated 503 total yards against Edmonton, which had 267. A positive, though, was the Elks finished with 130 yards rushing on 25 carries (5.2-yard average) but all three Bombers quarterbacks threw touchdown passes, including three from starter Zach Collaros (CFL-high 35 TD strikes).
Winnipeg became the first team to have three quarterbacks throw TD passes in the same game since Oct. 26, 2019 when Toronto achieved the feat in a 39-9 win over Ottawa.
This season, Bethel-Thompson has completed 348-of-522 passes (66.7 per cent) while Cornelius has hit on 187-of-327 attempts (57.2 per cent). Bethel-Thompson leads the CFL in both passes made and tried, a fact worth considering as Toronto is averaging a league-worst 77.3 yards rushing per game.
Edmonton’s defence is ranked last overall against the run (116.5 yards per game) but second versus the pass (258.7 yards per game). Toronto’s defence has forced a CFL-best 41 turnovers while the Elks’ offence has turned the ball over 44 times, second-most in the league.
The Elks’ last home contest was a 25-18 loss to Montreal. In that contest, Alouettes defensive back Tyrice Beverette returned an interception 100 yards in the fourth quarter for the game-deciding touchdown.
It was the first of three late turnovers by the Elks.
Edmonton certainly has history on its side but, once again, if Toronto fashions itself a team that can go deep into the playoffs, this is a game it must win.
&© 2022 The Canadian Press
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