Primed for the third installment of the Battle of Alberta in 2017, the Stampeders have their sights set on a 14th victory this season.
Bo Levi Mitchell, whose career loss total remains in the single-digits, will be joined by four teammates making their initial appearance in the lineup as first place has been secured.
“It does allow us the chance to look at some other people, but we want to play good football,” said Dave Dickenson following Day 3 of practice. “We’re not trying to get into the playoffs not playing good, solid football. Whoever suits up, the standards are the same. But it is nice as a coach to be able to have that option to see other guys.”
In back-to-back September encounters, Calgary took care of the Eskimos 39-18 in Southern Alberta before travelling up the highway for another encounter five days later. Edmonton missed a field goal on the final play of the rematch which would have forced overtime.
The Stampeders are aiming to avoid consecutive losses for the first time in 104 outings. A disappointing performance last Friday saw the Saskatchewan Roughriders leave McMahon Stadium with a 30-7 decision in their favour to snap the Stamps’ 17-game winning streak at home and 10-game run against Western opposition.
“We’re moving on,” Dickenson affirmed. “You can’t change that result. The best thing to do is just to get to work on a new day with a new opportunity, so let’s go get it.”
Despite the lacklustre performance, Calgary (13-2-1) wrapped up the West Division the following day thanks to an Argonauts triumph over Winnipeg.
Either an Edmonton loss to the Stamps or a Blue Bombers win over the Lions Saturday afternoon would prevent the Eskimos, currently 10-6, from finishing in second place.
Head coach Jason Maas and the Esks most recently beat BC 35-29 in OT from Vancouver. The Green and Gold put up 464 yards of offence and did not commit a turnover.
Edmonton possesses the league’s leading passer in Mike Reilly and the top receiver in Brandon Zylstra.
As for the Red and White, Ja’Gared Davis, Charleston Hughes and Micah Johnson are part of a four-way tie atop the CFL sack-race. With nine apiece, Davis and Johnson have already set career highs.
Only the Eskimos and Stampeders are undefeated – a combined 18-0, to be exact – when holding a halftime lead. Each team has also been highly successful in games decided by four points or fewer. Calgary is 4-0-1 in close calls while Edmonton is 5-1.
“It’s a mindset, and you’d better be ready to play,” warned Dickenson regarding the matchup at Commonwealth. “No team at this stage of the season is not going to play hard and give you their best. It is a physical game and at the end of the year the most physical teams are the best teams. Ultimately, we’ve got to be ready to go.”