Thursday the 4-2 Riders take on the 1-5 Lions in front of a sell-out crowd at Mosaic Stadium. Hopefully you are like me and have taken the liberty of taking Friday off work. Barring that you should either be laying the ground work for a sick day (a cough here, a sniffle there, subtle comments about your throat beginning to feel soar) or be working on one heck of an excuse as to why you will be absent from work. Now the Rider Prophet does not officially encourage abuse of sick leave or lying to your boss… but since you are probably going to do it anyway I would recommend going with one of the following… religious holiday (i.e. the 3rd day of Ramadan or International Left Handers Day), some sort of bowel or digestive problems (people tend not to ask many questions about that) or just tell them you could come to but you can’t seem to locate your pants so it would probably be in everyone’s best interests for you to stay home until you do.
Anywho, onto the game.
The Lions come into this game on a 5 game losing streak. They have not won since they beat the equally as inept Eskimos in week 1. Their losing streak started off with beat down at home by the Riders and their list of problems has seemed grow each week since.
Topping their list of problems is the fact that they have thusfar fielded a collection of failures at QB. They started off with a guy whose amazing athleticism and mobility was supposed to compensate for his idiocy… but he lost his mobility when he got hurt and was left with just his idiocy. So they tried going with a young prospect who was supposed to be the 2nd coming of Dave Dickenson… but he was more like the 2nd coming of Jimmy Kemp and was so comically inept that he was deemed to be a bigger failure than the idiot cripple he was supposed to replace. So now they have to resort to the same thing they do every year at about this time… Jarious Jackson. As I’ve said in the past, I consider Jackson to be only a slightly more intelligent Michael Bishop. He’s mobile, has a cannon for an arm but his intellectual capacity is only 3 steps above what is considered functionally retarded (hence why he is slightly more intelligent that Bishop).
Compounding their issues at QB is the fact that they are fielding a poor excuse for an O-line. They keep trying different combinations but the result is always the same… pass protection that is next to non existent (no one has given up more sacks) and a run game this is slipping further and further into oblivion (close to half of BC’s rushing yards came in the first game).
Not surprisingly a carousel of poor QBs and a sad excuse for an O-line has led to the least potent offense in the CFL. Seriously, people who play Dungeons and Dragons in their mom’s basement score more often than the Lions. But to Buono’s credit he is taking action to address his lack of a credible QB and terrible O-line… by cutting his second leading receiver (Derick Armstrong). Seems about right.
Despite all that is going wrong with BC, we can’t afford to take them lightly. They actually have fairly decent defense overall. They are the 3rd best against the pass and have allowed the 3rd least points. They feature ball hawks like the ever dangerous Korey Banks as well as Ryan Phillips and Dante Marsh. They lead the league in sacks… though their pass rush won’t likely be as powerful now that Aaron Hunt is on the 9-game. Their major weakness on D is stopping the run where they are 2nd worst in the league.
Key to the game offensively is limit mental errors. We have offensive weapons galore and talent to burn, we just haven’t been executing consistently. We should have walked all over the Als D last week but the combination of ill advised passes and key drops hurt us. BC has playmakers on D but we should be able to move the ball on them. Cates should have a big game and be the engine that drives our offense. Provided our O-line can buy him some time, a healthier Durant should be able to attack the BC secondary like that undercooked chicken attacked his intestines.
Defensively we need 2 things. 1 – pass rush. BC’s O-line is terrible so there is no excuse for not getting constant pressure and disrupting Jarious’ passes. 2 – Defend the pass. Jackson has a strong arm and good receivers (Simon, Arceneaux, other Jackson) which is somewhat unsettling given that we currently boast the worst pass defense in the league. The good news is that unlike the other QBs who have shredded our secondary (Calvillo, Ray, Glenn), Jackson is not now, nor has he ever been, known for his accuracy. If our coverage is tight we should see a pick or 2, particularly if Patrick is on his game. Robertson doesn’t really scare me except for the fact that he is a scoring machine on those rare occasions where Lulay fluked out and managed to get the ball into the redzone.
While switching Lulay for Jackson does improve the Lions, it’s not going to be enough to overcome the myriad of issues facing this team. The Riders make a bunch of bad mistakes in Montreal and still almost beat the league’s best team. The Lions are nowhere close to as good as the Alouettes so I expect a dominating performance from the Riders much like when they met in week 2. It won’t be a complete blow-out but…
Riders by 14.
Around the CFL…
The stadium debate in Hamilton is taking some very interesting turns. Faced with the mayor’s insistence on a location for a new proposed stadium that the Ti-Cats think is stupid, owner Bob Young has pulled out of the process completely meaning that unless something changes, the Ti-Cats will have nowhere to play once their lease at Ivor Wynne expires after next season. Rumours have since popped up that the Ti-Cats have a deal with Quebec City in the works. I would hate to see the Ti-Cats leave Hamilton, I mean Les Quebec Chat-Tigres just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Plus adding a beret to the cat on the logo would kind of eliminate all the toughness that used to be attributed to the team from Steeltown.