As Bob Cole would say “Oh Baby!”. As Michael Buffer would say “Llllllet’s get ready to rumble!!!”. As Riley Cooper would say… check that let’s just stop at Michael Buffer.
For the second time in this young season the two top teams in the CFL will square off under the lights on Friday Night Football. This time the rivalry shifts to Mosaic Stadium West aka McMahon stadium (still not sure whether its Vince, Jim or Ed they are honouring) where Calgarians are getting ready for a giant influx of Rider Nation which they pretend to hate but secretly, deep down love because it means $$$ and a way better atmosphere than any of their other craptastic games. The lone blemish on the Stampeders’ record is a week 2 loss to the Riders and you can bet they will be looking to avenge that.
Darian Durant returns to lead the League’s most potent offense. While the Stampeders and their #2 scoring offense will go with Kevin Glenn as Drew Tate continues his one man quest to make Buck Pierce not seem so bad by comparison. The game also features arguably the 2 top RBs in the CFL… though given that Sheets comes in having already amassed 211 rushing yards more than Cornish it’s pretty clear at this point who #1 is.
Last time these 2 teams met, the Stamps tried early to stuff the running force of nature known as Kory Sheets and we countered by using Getzlaf and Dressler to pick apart their pass coverage. I’d imagine the Stamps will come in once again looking to contain Sheets (good luck). Whether it be with the slots, or the wideouts, dumps to the returning Neal Hughes or even Durant using his legs, we will need to attack other areas of their D to loosen up the run D. From what I have seen from our offense so far this should not be an issue.
Unfortunately, this time around we will not have the luxury of repeatedly victimizing Jonathan Hefney. Keon Raymond is back in that spot and that is a Nik Lewis-sized upgrade for the Stamps. That said I still think their secondary can be exploited. Only Hamilton has allowed more passing TDs this season. Spread the ball around, keep them guessing and we will move the chains.
It will be interesting to see how their run D holds up this time around against Sheets. When facing teams other than us they are allowing only 79.5 rush yards per game. Time to show whether last time was an off night or whether our O-line/Sheets are just that good… I’m leaning towards the latter.
Defensively this game will come down to one thing and one thing only… can we stop Cornish? Last time Cornish was a non-factor but he only touched the ball 8 times. Even with all his concussions I don’t expect Dave Dickenson to make that mistake again. Cornish will be getting the ball early and often and if he’s smart, running off tackle to challenge our converted DB linebackers. If the front 7 as a whole can contain Cornish then we will end the night at 6 and 0. If they can’t then we could find ourselves in an offensive shootout then threatens to even further reduce my life expectancy.
Unlike last time though, for pass defense, Calgary won’t have the luxury of attacking a raw rookie in Prince Miller. Miller has improved my leaps and bounds since his rocky debut back in week 2. Also while Maurice Price (Calgary’s best receiver) will be back from injury, Joe West remains out. So worst case scenario if we do end up in a shootout… I think we pack the bigger guns.
It would be a massive advantage if we score a couple early and put the Stamps behind the gun. Not only will it help shut up the half of the crowd that isn’t dressed in green but it will also force the Stamps to go away from the ground game. Also there is nothing better than seeing the Stamps get frustrated. I hope we pummel them so soundly that Hufnagel heads back to the locker room with 8 minutes remain in the half and there is a delay in play as refs try to track him down.
Simply put no team is playing better than us in the trenches on either side of the line. Until that changes I see no reason not to expect another Rider win.
Riders by 10.