Sunday the 2-7 Riders travel to Manitoba for a rematch with the 7-2 Bombers. Interesting fact: the annual influx of the thousands Rider fans to Manitoba for the Banjo Bowl actually temporarily increases the genetic diversity in the province 1000 fold. Though to be fair, the genetic diversity in Manitoba would double if I went there by myself.
In my opinion this will be the first real test for Coach Miller and the born again Riders. I don’t want to say it was easy to beat the Bombers on Labour Day (though it did certainly look that way) but the Riders enjoyed several advantages for that game that they won’t have the luxury of the 2nd time around. For one we had home field advantage and quite frankly beating us on Labour Day is harder than finding a Manitoban family tree that has more than 1 branch. We also had an emotional boost due to the return of a beloved (and competent) coach to the sidelines. Lastly, we had the advantage of unveiling a different offensive scheme than anything we’ve shown this year. It was a perfect storm of awesomeness.
Of course working in the Riders favour this week is the teeny tiny matter of the return of the reigning Most Outstanding Canadian and last years receiving yardage leader Andy Fantuuuuuuuuuz! Now unlike many, I do not think Fantuz is the 2nd coming of Christ (I’m a prophet, I’m pretty sure I would know if that happened). He’s not just going to waltz in here and start putting up 150 yds per game. That said I do think he will have a very positive impact on our offense. For one he’s still a damn good receiver and is a safety net for Durant on 2nd down. Also it should create some more favourable match-ups for Hill, Baker and Getzlaf (who can go back to being the 4th/5th option… it’s the part he was born to play). Oh yeah and even if all those guys are covered a fellow by the name of Cary Koch (who could actually pass for Jesus with that mop of hair he’s sporting) will be there too to make life difficult on the defense. Bottom line is we’ve gone from a passing attack where our best option was either throwing to Dressler in quadruple coverage or throwing to Getzlaf and praying to the ball would somehow get stuck in his helmet or pads rather than bounce of his hands to an offense where we have multiple weapons and multiple ways to exploit a defense.
I expect I better game from Winnipeg’s defense. They are the best defense in the league for a reason. They now have some film on the kind of offense Miller will be running and should be better prepared. I’m sure they will make adjustments to get more pressure on Durant. We should be able to counter that with the speed of Charles or West. If their front 7 finds a way past the great protection our OL and RBs/TEs are providing, a well timed screen or draw to him could do some serious damage. The Bomber D is used to impressing their will upon their opposition and don’t seem to take it well when they are kept off balance. Therein lays the key to beating them… a dynamic offense that keeps them guessing as to what comes next. Ball control will once again be key.
I don’t really expect a better game from Winnipeg’s offense. They simply aren’t very good and when their defense isn’t able to bail them out, they look as lost and useless as the fans that cheer for them (only way they could be anymore like the fans would be to start having sex with barn animals). I have no idea why they suck so much. They have talent at every position (except along the O-line which is a glaring weakness of theirs). But the fact remains that they suck. Least TDs scored, least 1st down, most punts and less offensive yards than any team not named the Argos. I’m not overly confident that our D can repeat that outstanding performance from last week but even so I’m pretty sure they can hold the Bombers in check once again even with a half decent performance.
This game will be decided based on who wins the battle between the Bomber D and our O. Two weeks ago I would have bet the house against us (a move not likely to be endorsed by Mrs. Prophet). Last week I would have thought we would at least be competitive but still likely lose. But this week, I suddenly have hope again. I expect a much tighter game where we fall behind early and have to claw our way back into it but in the end…
Riders by Chris Milo FG… marking the first time ever I get to exclaim Another Game For Milo!!!!!