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Edmonton Elks look for their first home victory since 2019 campaign

Edmonton Elks quarterback Taylor Cornelius (15) evades a tackle from Saskatchewan Roughriders defensive lineman Pete Robertson (45) during the second half of CFL football action at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Sask., on Friday, September 16, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Heywood Yu

Home field has been anything but an advantage for the Edmonton Elks.

Edmonton (4-10) has dropped a CFL record-tying 14 straight games at Commonwealth Stadium. And with the Elks' faint playoff hopes hanging by a thread, they'll host the Montreal Alouettes (6-7) on Saturday night.

The combination of an Edmonton loss and Saskatchewan win over Winnipeg on Friday night would eliminate the Elks from playoff contention.

Edmonton is 0-6 at home this season, having been outscored 214-101. Five of those losses have come against West Division rivals (twice to Calgary and Saskatchewan, once to Winnipeg).

Edmonton's lone home loss to an East team was 25-18 to the Ottawa Redblacks on Aug. 27. Overall, Edmonton is 3-1 versus Eastern clubs, all of those victories coming on the road.

Edmonton's last home win was a 19-6 decision over the B.C. Lions on Oct. 12, 2019.

Former Elks starter Trevor Harris returns with Montreal. And the contest is an important one for the Alouettes, who're currently second in the East Division four points ahead of third-place Hamilton (4-10) and six in front of last-place Ottawa (3-10).

Toronto (8-5) remains first in the conference. The Argos and Alouettes complete their regular seasons with a home-and-home series Oct. 22-29.

The Elks are coming off a 26-24 road win over Saskatchewan on Sept. 16, a game that saw them roll up 439 yards of total offence. That included 202 yards rushing on 22 carries (9.2-yard average), with Kevin Brown accounting for 109 yards on 13 attempts.

Quarterback Taylor Cornelius threw for 237 yards and a touchdown while also running for 93 yards and a TD on eight carries. Edmonton improved its road record to 4-4 but the win was its first in 10 games versus West Division opposition.

Montreal has won two straight and four of its last five games. The Alouettes are 3-4 versus West Division rivals and 2-4 on the road.

Edmonton won the first meeting 32-31 at Molson Stadium on July 14, rallying from a 13-point deficit. Cornelius's 10-yard TD strike to Kenny Lawler and Sergio Castillo's ensuing convert late in the fourth quarter provided the Elks with their winning points.

An encouraging sign in that game was Edmonton getting the ball back with 2:36 to play and being able to maintain possession through to the end and not give Montreal a shot at a game-winning field goal.

Although Edmonton has lost two of its last three games, Cornelius has completed 57-of-89 passes for 786 yards with four TDs and two interceptions. He has also rushed 14 times for 120 yards and two TDs.

The Elks have been without Lawler (ankle) over that span. But the veteran receiver (51 catches, 849 yards, five TDs) resumed practising this week and could return to face Montreal.

The Alouettes have won just once in their last seven visits to Commonwealth although that victory came last season. Standout rusher William Standback resumed practising this week but was listed as limited.

Pick: Edmonton.

Saskatchewan Roughriders versus Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Friday night)

At Winnipeg, the Blue Bombers (12-2) come off the bye in position to clinch a home playoff game with a win. They could also do so with a Calgary loss to Toronto on Saturday. The defending Grey Cup champions are 7-0 within the West Division and 2-0 versus Saskatchewan (6-8) this season. But to be fair, their 54-20 victory Sept. 10 came with a number of Riders suffering from the stomach flu. And while the West Division's fourth-place team sports a 3-3 road record, it has dropped three straight contests and is 3-5 within its conference.

Pick: Winnipeg.

Ottawa Redblacks versus B.C. Lions (Friday night)

At Vancouver, the Lions (9-4) have clinched a CFL playoff spot and remain in the hunt for a home post-season contest but will be without all-star receiver Bryan Burnham (wrist). They're coming off a 25-11 home loss to Calgary as Vernon Adams Jr. was 12-of-24 passing for 151 yards. B.C. is 4-3 at home but 3-1 versus the East Division. Ottawa (3-10) has dropped two straight and last won at B.C. Place Stadium in 2017.

Pick: B.C.

Toronto Argonauts versus Calgary Stampeders (Saturday night)

At Calgary, Jake Maier makes his first start after signing an extension with the Stampeders (9-5). He's 3-2 since becoming the starter and was 27-of-33 passing for 294 yards last week against B.C. CFL rushing leader Ka'Deem Carey ran for 84 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. The home team is 4-0 against Eastern clubs this year. Toronto has clinched a home playoff game but is still looking to finish atop the East Division for a second straight season. The Argos are 4-2 on the road but 2-3 versus the West.

Pick: Calgary.

 Last week: 1-2.

CP's overall record: 44-17.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2022.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

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