LIVESTREAM PPV: CFL – Edmonton Eskimos @BC Lions, Oct. 19, 7p (4a Oct. 20 CET)

VANCOUVER — Two teams in the thick of the West Division playoff race collide on Friday Night Football in Week 19, as the BC Lions host the Edmonton Eskimos at BC Place.

The Leos and Esks currently sit tied with 16 points for the final playoff spot, with Wally Buono’s BC squad holding a game in hand on their Friday visitors.

Playoff-wise, the meeting between the two drastically different coaches — Buono, the oldest coach in the league at 68; Maas, the CFL’s youngest at 42 — will likely decide both their teams’ fate.

A BC win would secure the Lions a playoff berth, while making Edmonton’s road to the post-season entirely dependent on results elsewhere. An Esks victory would further complicate an already-bonkers West Division playoff picture.

Fresh off an impressive 34-16 victory over the Ottawa REDBLACKS last week, Mike Reilly and the Edmonton Eskimos travel to the west coast for Friday’s make-or-break game full of confidence.

“One of the coolest things was when I woke up at 4:00 in the morning (last) Sunday, I put on the TV tape of the game, and just about every single play I saw our offensive line picking guys up, they played amazing,” Reilly told Esks.com. “We expect that of them every week, and they certainly come out and give us everything they’ve got.”

It’s no secret that the key to Edmonton’s offence is pocket protection; the reigning-MOP has the arm and vision to pick apart even the most seasoned of secondaries if afforded time under centre, as evidenced by his 369-yard performance against the REDBLACKS in Week 18.

Bryant Mitchell emerged as his favoured option in that win, hauling in a career-high 190 receiving yards and giving CFL Fantasy GMs some ridiculous value in the process.

“I say it all the time, that man (Reilly) goes in gladiator-style — he’s not afraid to have the weight on his shoulders and leads our team,” said Mitchell, whose own road to the limelight has been a winding one with time spent on the practice roster. “We had some mistakes in Saskatchewan, some obvious mistakes that we addressed in a team meeting.

“I’m a team guy, first and foremost, (so there’s) no satisfaction, I’m just going to continue to work hard. I was once in a place where I was released from this team, I was on the practice roster…I just want to help this team any way I can.”

On what will likely be his final meeting with the legendary Wally Buono, Esks head coach Jason Maas took a moment in the lead-up to Friday’s contest to reflect on his BC counterpart’s legacy.

“He’s a legend in the game,” said Maas. “He’s won more games than anybody, his longevity and consistency as both a general manager and head coach is tremendous, and he’s a great person on top of it.

“Ton of respect for him, you want to beat the best, and measure yourself against the best and he’s long been looked at as that.”

Only one minor roster change for Edmonton from the Ottawa game: Veteran Sam Giguere enters as a backup to slotback Nate Behar — fresh off a career-high 51 receiving yards against the REDBLACKS — while Pascal Lochard hits the one-game injured list.

The BC Lions know Mike Reilly, and know him well.

Whether it be from all the divisional games, or some of their previously being teammates with him, they all know the defending MOP and know what he is capable of.

“I love going against Mike, he’s one of the quarterbacks — if not the best quarterback — in the league,” Lions defensive back Otha Foster told BCLions.com. “Going against him, especially hitting him, is one of my favourite things to do.

“He’s a real tough guy, he likes to throw the ball downfield (and) the hard part is getting to him and bringing him down.”

With scenarios flying around in newspapers, social media and local radio, veteran Lions pivot Travis Lulayhas tried to emphasize to his squad the importance of focusing on controllable variables this week.

“In these scenarios, you see articles (and) people talking about things, (and) you don’t worry about it at all. We’ve got a game to play this weekend, (and) all we can control is how well we play on game day,” said Lulay, who was limited to 193 yards and an interception in last week’s win over Calgary. “The fact the chance is there (to clinch), does it change our approach? No it doesn’t.

“I don’t know their scenario and I don’t care.”

It’s been the BC defence which — blip in Hamilton aside — has allowed the Lions to scrap their way back into a self-destined position in the playoff race during the second half of the season.

“(It’s) two weeks in a row facing the MVP of one year (Calgary’s Bo Levi Mitchell, and) the MVP of the next year (Reilly), but you have to give (coordinator) Mark Washington, the staff and players credit, they’ve played these guys well,” said Buono prior to his penultimate regular-season home game. “They’re going to move the football — they have too many weapons not to — so we’ve got to do the same thing on offence (and) gotta be able to get touchdowns.”

The Leos will make one solitary change to the roster that beat Calgary last week, with rookie Lee Bennettsliding into a depth role at linebacker in place of the injured Frederic Chagnon.

Bennett was a three-year starter at Mercer University, where he finished strong as a team captain and recorded a school-record 110 tackles as a senior.

By The Numbers:

26 — Yards required for Esks QB Mike Reilly to reach the 5,000-yard mark for a third-straight season. Doug Flutie (1991-94) and Anthony Calvillo (2002-05) are the only two quarterbacks in league history to have more.

33 — Wins in 48 career games against Edmonton for BC head coach Wally Buono, an impressive .688 winning percentage.

64 — Number of permutations (read: potential outcomes of remaining games in the CFL’s West Division’s), creating a whopping 15 different potential standings orders in the division.

In terms of regular-season CFL games, they don’t really get much bigger than Friday Night Football’s nightcap this week.

The BC Lions are one win away from clinching a spot in the Shaw Road to the Grey Cup playoffs, something that seemed unlikely when the team began the year 3-6; Edmonton’s playoff hopes would take a sizeable hit with a loss.

Will Wally Buono’s Leos rise to the occasion, and move to 7-1 at home in the process? Or will Jason Maas’s Esks buck the trend (road record: 2-6) to change the narrative in the West Division playoff race?

Tune in on Friday evening to find out.

– With files from Esks.com/BCLions.com

AFI, Yare Media and the CFL

American Football International is collaborating with Yare Media and the Canadian Football League to present 2018 CFL games live. This is more than a livestream. This is a stream of the top flight TSN network television broadcast.

LIVE STREAM PPV: CFL – Edmonton Eskimos @BC Lions, Oct. 19, 7p (4a Oct. 20 CET)

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