Saturday the Riders close out the regular season at home against the lowly Eskimos. In keeping with the themes of the rest of the final week’s action, this game is more meaningless than my self-appointed status as certified breast examiner. The Riders will be hoping to emerge healthy and ready to resume meaningful games next week. The Eskimos will be looking to put in just enough effort to look like they care while still trying to covertly coast into offseason mode.
All signs point to Durant sitting… and rightly so. He has nothing to gain by playing so it’s better to rest him and get him healthy (or at least as healthy as he can get in November) for the playoffs. Plus anytime Willy can get some meaningful action you should take advantage of the opportunity (at least that’s my policy). I will be interested to see if Willy will be the solid confident QB we saw in his start against Hamilton or if he regresses to the shaky scrambler we saw last year. It will be telling as to where is development is at. Garrett will also likely get the bulk of the workload to rest Sheets. They may have to chain Sheets to the bench to keep him off the field and assign a chaperon to make sure he doesn’t sneak on the field. If the record or 2K was a possibility I’d let him run… but since it’s not, I think it’s better to rest him so he can be a terror come the playoffs. Look like Alex Anthony may get a live tryout with Getzlaf nursing a knee injury. I’m interested to see what he can do... given the embarrassingly low standard set by Sisco, Anthony would not have to do much to catapult himself up the depth chart. Overall don’t expect much flash and flare from the O, we will be saving out best stuff for the playoffs (at least that’s the hope that keeps me going). But with a number of back-ups looking to make an impression you can bet there will a solid effort level.
While back-ups will likely dominate the O, the one thing that is meaningful and that I am looking forward to is the return of Best to the line-up and our OL getting back to the starting 5 we want. It’s sad when the thing I am most looking forward to is 5 fat men in tight fitting clothes. This is an excellent chance for the starting 5 to re-develop the chemistry that made them an intimidating unit early in the year in live action. It’ll probably be shaky at first but before long I expect they will be solid.
Defensively there will also likely be some starters resting. Old man McCullough and Maze are likely to sit and maybe one or 2 more. Same deal as on O, our goal is to emerge relatively healthy. That said consider that last time we played and the Esks actually cared, we held them to 9 points and that was with Stamps in the line-up. Even if we rest a couple, our D-line remains downright scary and the Edmonton OL instills just as much fear in their own QB as our DL. Defense will be solid… maybe not as amped up as the first half of last week, but solid enough to snuff out the second worst offense in the CFL without their top receiver.
On the surface we have an Eskimo team that is playing for their jobs next year versus a Rider team that is more focused on next week. It would not surprise anyone to see the Esks win based purely on care factor. But also consider that no one wants to spend the offseason hurt; this is a home game; and Kavis Reed is an awful coach who will soon be the victim of CONSEQUENCES himself. In a meaningless game anything can happen. Personally the Esks embarrass themselves so bad that we get one last epic Kavis Reed post-game interview.
If you want quality football, you are probably better off checking out the Regina Thunder play in the national championship. But if you enjoy seeing the Eskimos playing a team on a reduced playbook with a bunch of back-ups (aka the fairest fight they are going to get without playing Winnipeg again), then this game will have entertainment value. I say sit back and enjoy a game without the usual levels of stress (save that for next week when stress will be through the roof).
Riders’ Willy scores, ensure happy ending for all.
One last note, the court case for the Anderson/Smith/Riley assault case has been pushed back once again… this time to November 26. I’m sure it’s just coincidence that its 2 days after the Grey Cup. The “stall legal proceedings until the season is over” plan has worked to perfection. This effectively saves the Riders from even having to deal with the issue this year. The system works!
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