LIVE STREAM PPV: CFL – Edmonton Eskimos @BC Lions Saturday, Oct. 21 10p EDT (4a CEST, Oct. 22)

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VANCOUVER — Saturday night’s contest at BC Place has taken on an unmistakeable “Twilight Zone” feel.

The BC Lions, who began 2017 so brightly, have faded right out of playoff contention — literally, following Saskatchewan’s Friday-night win in Calgary. Wally Buono’s Leos have officially been eliminated.

Their guests on Saturday — the Edmonton Eskimos — are very much the opposite: Jason Maas’s Edmonton Eskimos have roared back to life following an ugly middle-third of the season, and are in the midst of a total logjam in the West Division playoff picture.

BC and Edmonton will meet on Saturday night; for the Esks, it’s an opportunity to build off two wins against eastern opponents; for the Leos, it will be one more chance to turn around what’s been a disappointing year for the legendary Buono, whose future is uncertain.

Edmonton Eskimos’ Da’Quan Bowers, right, reaches to bring down B.C. Lions’ quarterback Jonathon Jennings during the first half of a CFL football game in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, June 24, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Despite BC being eliminated from playoff contention on the night before the game, Maas expects the Lions to put up a strong, professional fight on their home turf.

“I tell you what, any time you play a western opponent in their place, it’s go time,” said Maas. “We’ve got to be playing our best football — they beat us at this time last year. Both games (this year) have come down to the end (as) tight games in the fourth quarter. We fully expect them to show up, but we want to do our job and that’s win.”

Even with playoff berth in hand, Esks show no signs of slowing down

D’Anthony Batiste is slated to get his first action of the season at right tackle; the 35-year-old veteran has spent virtually the entirety of 2017 on Edmonton’s practice roster.

“We were very excited that he decided to stick around with us,” said Maas of the seven-year NFL veteran Batiste. “It shows what kind of pro he is, and obviously any guy that steps in with that kind of experience, you feel good with him in there.”

Esks QB Mike Reilly is within touching distance of two milestones: He needs just 155 pass yards to hit the 5,000-yard mark in 2017, and requires 269 to set Edmonton’s single-season franchise passing record — currently held by Ricky Ray (2008).

Edmonton Eskimos’ Brandon Zylstra, right, makes a reception behind B.C. Lions’ T.J. Lee during the first half of a CFL football game in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, June 24, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Morale in BC Lions camp, despite what is being said externally, must be low.

With all their talent and playmakers on both sides of the football, Wally Buono’s Leos have failed to live up to expectations during a sputtering second half that has sent them spiraling out of the post-season picture.

For the time being, they’re looking forward and aiming to finish the year stronger than they stumbled through its middle portion.

“New team, new week,” running back Jeremiah Johnson told BCLions.com. “We have to pull our pants up, tighten up our ties a little more and let it loose.”

The word ‘professional’ has been thrown around on both sides of the matchup leading up to Saturday’s meeting.

“I know we have more than enough guys on this team to finish this thing off 3-0,” said Johnson. “We’re professionals. Any competitor doesn’t want to go out with a bad taste in their mouth, whether it’s for a playoff spot or different.”

A good start will be key for the struggling Lions, who are 0-7 when trailing at the half and will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1996.

On record watch in the coming weeks: legendary BC linebacker Solomon Elimimian needs 24 defensive tackles over the final three games to break his own all-time single-season record of 143 (2014).

BC Lions running back Jeremiah Johnson (24) runs the ball during CFL action between the Eskimos and Lions in Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, June 24, 2017. (CFL PHOTO – Jimmy Jeong)

By The Numbers

1 – Win in their last eight outings for the BC Lions, who’ve slid right out of the West Division playoff picture in the second half.

4 – Consecutive games in which BC has not forced a turnover — just the second time since 1966 that a CFL team has gone that many games without forcing one.

4 – Straight contests with a sack for Esks front man Almondo Sewell. The streak — the longest of Sewell’s career — comes after the Akron product managed just one in his first 11 games.

330 – Yards required by Edmonton REC Brandon Zylstra to tie the single-season franchise record for receiving yards, currently held by Brian Kelly who hauled in 1,812 yards in 1983.

The Skinny

Make no mistake: There is plenty on the line at BC Place on Saturday evening.

The visiting Eskimos find themselves in the middle of a logjam in the West, with the potential to both leapfrog Winnipeg (with outside help) and slip below Saskatchewan into an eastern crossover.

The Lions, though they may be playing for pride, will desperately want to turn around what’s been a hugely disappointing second half for the franchise.

Edmonton won both of the previous meetings between the two — a 30-27 decision at BC Place back in Week 1, and a 37-26 contest at Commonwealth in Week 6 — and if both stay true to their recent form, the Esks ought to take two points back to Alberta with them.

Then again: It’s the CFL, it’s fall, it’s very nearly playoff football, and anything can happen on any given night in any given town.

AFI, Yare Media and the CFL

American Football International is collaborating with Yare Media and the Canadian Football League to present 2017 CFL games live. This is more than a livestream. This is a stream of the top flight TSN network television broadcast.

If you can’t watch it live, each game is available for viewing through the remainder of the season.

LIVE STREAM PPV: CFL – Edmonton Eskimos @BC Lions Saturday, Oct. 21 10p EDT (4a CEST, Oct. 22)

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