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CFL Preview - Calgary (6-1) at Ottawa (1-6)

From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Sunday, August 24, 3 p.m. (ET).

GAME NOTES: The Calgary Stampeders try to keep their unblemished mark against East Division teams intact this weekend, as they clash with the Ottawa RedBlacks at TD Place on Sunday afternoon.

Calgary, which is tied with Edmonton for the best overall record in the league at 6-1, has taken to beating up on the East Division members by winning all five of those encounters. The Stamps have won two straight overall, thanks to a 30-20 victory at Hamilton last weekend.

Bo Levi Mitchell, who is now off to a 9-1 mark in his career as a starter, converted 19-of-27 passes for 271 yards and a score, but was picked off once and sacked four times. Mitchell also ran for 33 yards and a major on four carries, but he might start thinking more about preserving his body after his counterpart for the Tiger-Cats, Dan LeFevour, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury in the fourth quarter and will now miss the rest of the season.

It might be smart for the Stamps to convince Mitchell to leave the running to someone like Hugh Charles, who put up a game-high 102 yards on 14 carries. It would make even more sense for backup quarterback Drew Tate, who posted four yards and a major on three carries against Hamilton, to put himself in harm's way more often.

Mitchell currently stands fourth in the league in passing yards with 1,692, but because he has 12 aerial TDs against only three interceptions on 207 attempts, he leads the CFL in efficiency rating (102.6).

Right behind Mitchell in terms of passing yards is Ottawa signal caller Henry Burris who has 1,634 yards, but in his case he has an efficiency rating of only 80.4 because he has the same numbers of INTs (five) as he does TDs at the moment.

Burris, a 15-year CFL veteran who played for Calgary during two different stints, threw for 255 yards in the 10-8 loss to Edmonton last week. Burris was 18-of-28 and had a long of 55 yards, accounting for a good chunk of his total. Running back Chevon Walker accounted for 58 yards on 14 carries, but neither was much of a factor as kicker Brett Maher took care of all the scoring with a pair of field goals and two singles.

On a more positive note, the Ottawa defense was quite aggressive as it kept the Eskimos out of the end zone, although Edmonton did manage to generate 452 yards of total offense in the meeting.

Ottawa was bound to have some growing pains this season, its first in the league, but combining the weakest defense (404.8 ypg, 28.4 ppg allowed) with the second-worst offense (17.0 ppg) makes for a very rough stretch to begin a new franchise in an old location.

The pass defense for the RedBlacks has been allowing opposing quarterbacks to connect on a hefty 68.1 percent of their pass attempts, keeping the unit on the field for far too long and preventing Burris from even attempting to keep Ottawa in contention from one week to the next.

The relationship between teams representing these two cities dates back several decades, with Calgary owning a 37-23 advantage in regular-season meetings going back to 1961. The Stamps have won two straight over Ottawa, including a 38-17 romp at home earlier this month.

In that first meeting of the season, back in Week 7, the Stamps leaned on Mitchell who not only converted 26-of-36 passes for 289 yards and three touchdowns, he also picked up a touchdown on the ground during the lopsided event. Marquay McDaniel reeled in a game-high nine passes for 117 yards and a score for the hosts.

Burris stuck it out as well as he could for the visitors, connecting on 20- of-29 attempts for 281 yards and a score, but he was picked off twice and suffered four sacks in the setback. Both sides had issues with playing disciplined football as the RedBlacks dealt with 12 penalties for a loss of 131 yards, and Calgary another 13 flags for 120 yards.

At some point the RedBlacks are going to find a groove and start playing positive football, but until that happens an opponent as strong as Calgary has the advantage.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Calgary 29, Ottawa 20

08/20 11:05:48 ET

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