Last weekend was a test… the Riders passed with flying colours. They proved they can win the tough games. This week they need to make a statement that that can win the games they are supposed to. Let’s be honest the Esks are a terrible team and taking advantage of that and winning both of our remaining contests with them is a necessity to secure a home playoff game. For any hope at first we need to win out and hope Calgary loses once more (presumably to BC since the Esks have about as much chance of beating the Stamps as Jacksonville has of beating the Broncos this weekend).
The Esks come into this game with just 3 wins, none of which have come against the west. They beat the Bombers twice and Hamilton once but that was in week 2 back before Kent Austin had got his team all figured out... it was also before he re-discovered razors. They have no chance of making the playoffs, there are rumours floating around that Rick Campbell may be set to replace Kavis and quite frankly watching their last game the team just gave up. They are saying all the right things in front of the camera but truthfully, much like a prostate exam, they can’t wait for this painful experience to be over. It’s as if the schedule makers have dumped a battered corpse on our front step. But humanitarianism be damned… we need to continue kicking them while they are down and maybe give them a Macho Man style flying elbow drop for good measure.
As awful as they have been I don’t expect the Esks to be a pushover. Their offense remains unchanged from previous meetings, they rely solely on Reilly airing out. That wouldn’t be such a terrible plan except for the fact that they have a dreadfully bad O-line and a recently concussed QB willing to take way many hits. We have one of the most dangerous pass rushes in the league (we already have 47 sacks after notching just 34 last year) and just added to top sack getter in the CFL. Not sure why the Esks are willing to sacrifice their franchise QB in a meaningless game but our DL will say thank you and plant him on his ass all night. Outside of Reilly's scrambling, they have no run game to speak of. They average 61 yards rushing per game if you exclude Reilly’s production. If you look back at our recent losing streak, the lack of a run game made us one dimensional and lead to turnovers aplenty and low scoring. Well that has been the story for the Esks all year so it should be no surprise that they are 2nd last in scoring and giveaways. Reilly is a hell of a player and Stamps is too good not too make plays but overall our defense should eat this group alive, even without Weldon Brown and Rod Williams. Esks will move the ball but between sacks and turnovers will struggle to score.
I heard people pumping up the Esks defense this week saying they are playing better of late but I think that’s ridiculous. In their last 3 games they have allowed 47, 35 and 27 points… and the 27 was to freaking Winnipeg. This unit has allowed the 2nd most points. They, more than the O, visibly gave up last week. The stat I love the most… they have the worst run defense in the League averaging over 130 yards per game and allow more rushing TDs than anyone. Assuming Sheets in done waddling like a penguin he should have a massive day. BC is a far superior D to Edmonton so if we keep a similar game plan as last week (run lots, use quick passes, take shots selectively) we should score more than we did last week. With how good our D has been playing all we need to do on O is not turn the ball over and make life easy on Edmonton. If we can get up early I expect the Esks D to once again start checking out.
If all that wasn’t enough to convince you that we should win add in the fact that the Esks take the most penalty yards of anyone (and here I thought the CONSEQUENCES would have sorted that out) and their kicking game is terrible. Hugh O’Neil will likely not play… though I’m still unsure if that decision is related to performance or provincially mandated delousing.
We can’t afford to overlook this game despite the temptation but assuming we come out focused and play our game, the Esks will have no chance. We beat them twice at Commonwealth when they still had hope. Now back in front of the raucous Mosaic faithful with hope all but gone…
Riders by 16