Saturday will mark the first time in my career as a Rider fan that I will actually be cheering for a team in black and red as opposed to green and white. It will be difficult because I’ve been conditioned to despise teams in red and black but I’ll manage.
The decision by the Riders to honour their past by wearing centennial jerseys to honour the colours the team wore in the 30s and 40s has created quite a stir. Many people see no problem honouring the team’s heritage for one game in our centennial year. Others are strongly opposed to anything that is not green and white.
Personally I’ve got nothing against the black jerseys. Some of my favourite jerseys are black. The fact of the matter is that the black jerseys were here before the white ones. But the white jerseys showed up and immediately took everything from the black jerseys leaving them with nothing. I think it’s high time the black jerseys were given equal rights. Though I do worry that this will open the door for calls for equality for pink jerseys and rainbow jerseys.
After the game the Riders will be giving away all 42 game worn Centennial jerseys to lucky season ticket holders. Personally I hope they washed them first. I mean can you imagine getting Chunky Adams’ jerseys right after a summer afternoon game? Though odds of walking away with one of these collectors items are obviously small, with my luck if I do win it’ll end up being Dinwiddie’s jersey. I’m not sure what I would bother me more, the prospect of having to accept a jersey from a guy I hate or the prospect of having to look into his eyes in person.
Onto the game…
The teams come into this match-up heading in very different directions. The Riders came firing out of the gates with 2 wins and are coming back home riding of wave of momentum and confidence. The Esks have struggled out of the gates, dropping their first 2 games on home turf and now have to head out on the road.
The offenses are at completely different ends of the spectrum. The Riders are the most potent offense in the CFL, leading the league in passing yards, rushing yards and most importantly points. The Esks boast the league most futile offense (though after watching the Calgary game last night I’m no so sure) in the league having amassed a whopping 1… yes 1 passing TD. The only thing they lead the league in is homely QBs and midgets employed in their football operations.
Ricky Ray has been steadily regressing over the last few years and hasn’t looked that good so far this season. He certainly has dangerous weapons in Campbell and Stamps but the combination of Ray struggling and his receivers all doing their best Kamau Incompleterson impersonation has led to a stagnant offensive attack. The only Eskimo who has been playing well consistently is Arkee Whitlock, who I think is one of the best RBs in the league.
The contrast between these 2 teams continues on defense. The Riders have been very effective so far at shutting down the run. The Esks… not so much. The Riders force turnovers. The Esks have only managed 1 turnover this season (which added to their 7 giveaways place them at a league worst -6 in the turnover ratio). On top of not being a very good defense to begin with the Esks find themselves in even worse shape due to a number of injuries. They are down 2 starters on DL, 1 LB and have been forced into starting a raw rookie at safety. You just Doug Berry is like a shark who smells blood and is planning to attack the inexperienced safety.
Key to the game offensively is just keep doing what we’ve been doing. Attack with a mixture of runs and passes to keep the defense off balance. I see another big game in store for Cates. Walls and Thompson are talented DBs so we can’t carelessly air it out but there’s no way Durant and our receivers can’t exploit that secondary.
Defensively we can’t be overconfident. Like I said Whitlock is one of the best so the priority will be keeping him in check. Thus far our interior lineman and LBs have been stuffing the run well so that shouldn’t be a problem. Containing Stamp and more importantly Campbell may be a problem though. You can bet the Esks will have watched the film from our home opener as a blue print on how we can be beat through the air. Pressure will be on Alexander and Patrick to step up. We will also need another strong push from our DL. Edmonton has a better OL than BC so I don’t think we will see the relentless pressure we saw last week but we should still be able to get back there and get some hits on Ray.
The Esks will be hungry team but I just think the Riders are too strong for them. In front of a sellout crowd I expect the Riders to continue their strong start.
Riders by 10.
Don’t forget that it’s Tackle Hunger Day so remember to a donation for the food bank. And Man In the Bush if you are reading this your left over pizza crusts don’t count.