LIVESTREAM PPV: CFL – BC Lions @Montreal Alouettes, Sept. 14, 7:30p ET (1:30a CET)

MONTREAL — Two teams with ground to make up in divisional playoff races collide this week on Friday Night Football, as the BC Lions pay a visit to the Montreal Alouettes at Percival Molson Stadium.

Led by second-year pro Antonio Pipkin, the Als are fresh off a bye week and on a two-game winning streak — but still two games back of the final playoff spot in the East Division, which is currently held on a crossover by Winnipeg.

BC, meanwhile, is coming off a much-needed victory on home turf against Ottawa and sits one solitary victory behind the Bombers for that same crossover spot.

Defence has been the order of the day for both squads in 2018, as their offences have struggled under backup quarterbacks — a variety, in the case of Montreal — this season; now, with Antonio Pipkin and a healthy Travis Lulay at their respective helms, the Alouettes and Lions will try to kick start playoff pushes that seemed unlikely a mere two weeks ago.

General Manager Ed Hervey and the BC Lions made a splash with the signing of receiver DeVier Posey during the week, announcing to the rest of the league the Lions have every intention of pushing for a playoff spot.

The MVP of last year’s Grey Cup will start immediately for Wally Buono’s group, which he felt needed a boost.

“I didn’t want to be predictable, going back to Toronto because that’s where I was,” Posey told ” I wanted to approach it as free agency, and look at the variables and see where I could produce. I don’t know, with Manny going down, I felt like this team needed a guy. It’s a great opportunity.”

Facing a Montreal team likely to be in the mix for the crossover playoff spot — BC’s best chance at the playoffs — the Lions understand the importance of Friday’s contest.

“This is a team (that) if we’re going to cross over, we have to get some separation,” explained Buono. “They’ve played very well the last three games (and) Pipkin has given them confidence. Our week of prep’s been good: With Posey coming in, Peter Godber at centre, everybody’s focused well.”

Godber, a 2018 first-round draft pick out of Rice University, is ready to fill the big shoes left by the six-gamed Cody Husband.

“I’ve learned a lot from Cody Husband,” explained the 24 year-old. “He put me under his wings, I sat with him in the meetings, (and he) told me how to make the calls and why to make those calls. I’m excited and ready to play some football.”

Godber will have a special fan in the stands in Montreal — one of the perks of his return to Canada.

“My dad’s coming down with his wife,” said the rookie. “Being in Texas for college, he didn’t get out to a lot of games. But now, being in the CFL, with those east-coast games every year, he’s coming out. It’s exciting to have my dad there.”

BC’s defence has been key in virtually all of the team’s victories this season, but defensive back Garry Peters and his unit understand the Als are a much different proposition than the one they beat 22-10 back in Week 1.

“It ain’t the same Montreal team we played earlier in the season, (and) we’ve got to get out there and get it done,” said Peters. “The DB’s are fired up for another opportunity to do what we do every week…as a D, we take pride in going out there and getting a turnover, a sack or a two-and-out.”

Tensions are beginning to wear in Montreal, as enigmatic quarterback Johnny Manziel sounded off on being relegated to backup in a media scrum during the week.

“It’s hard for me, not being out there and playing,” Manziel told RDS. “I think back to a quote Coach Sherman said when I got here…’it has to work and it will work’.

“Coming off the injury, I’m not getting a chance to play. Then I miss a few days, and I’m sick. I’m struggling in my own mind trying to know exactly what my role is. I’m not a third-down short yardage guy, I don’t have a role in the game plan.”

The quieter of the two quarterbacks, Antonio Pipkin will make his fourth straight start for the Alouettes this Friday; the Tiffin University product is 2-1 as a starter, and has shown a consistent ability to move the chains.

“What is right for this franchise is we give it every opportunity to be successful,” said General Manager Kavis Reed, who smoothed over Manziel’s comments to the media. “When Johnny went into concussion protocol, Antonio took advantage of his opportunity.

“The way you handle situations and adversity will allow you to maximize your potential. This is a challenge we’re all going to work through together for (Manziel), personally. Johnny is a pro, he’s going to understand.”

By The Numbers:

– Wins in the final nine games of the season last year for the Alouettes (0-9); Mike Sherman’s team is 2-0 to begin the second half this season in a stark turnaround.

15 – Straight field goals made by BC kicker Ty Long, three short of his career record.

52 – More receiving yards per outing for Montreal receiver B.J. Cunningham since Antonio Pipkin took over under centre. Cunningham was averaging just 39 yards a night through the first eight games of the season, and has shot up to 91 per night since the sophomore quarterback entered the fray.

270 – Yards-per-game allowed by the Lions defence from Week 10 on, the lowest mark in the CFL. Montreal’s unit ranks fourth in the same category at 331.

Talk about a critical matchup.

A West Division playoff spot is little more than a pipe dream for the Lions, who trail third-place Edmonton by six points, but a crossover spot in the East is well within their grasp.

Montreal, meanwhile, is two wins back of current crossover holder Winnipeg.

It’s a meeting of two desperate teams that have played reasonably good football over the past few weeks.

Can Antonio Pipkin generate enough offence to cover the Alouettes’ in-form defence, or will Travis Lulay,Jeremiah Johnson and co. shake their road troubles (0-5) and earn an all-important win in Montreal?

– With files from

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LIVE STREAM PPV: CFL – BC Lions @Montreal Alouettes, Sept. 14, 7:30p ET (1:30a CET)

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