Friday, November 8, 2013

West Semi Final: Riders vs. Lions

It’s amazing the difference a few years can make. In 2007 you would have had to mortgage your house, go in debt to a shady loan shark, offer you’re first born and throw in a no questions night with your wife just to be in the top 5 bids for a playoff ticket. Granted capacity was a lot less and back in ’07 seeing a home playoff game was akin to seeing an albino gopher playing poker with a talking moose but still in just a few short years the excitement over playoff games has sure waned. Personally I’ll be disappointed if we get less than 39,000 but honestly I have bigger worries that attendance.

Truthfully it doesn’t matter how many people are there as long as the people that are are jacked up and loud. Just ask anyone who was at the Thunderbowl if a full stadium is needed for deafening noise levels. I love playoff football on the prairies. The electricity in the stadium in ’07 and ’09 were unreal!!!! (’10 got there eventually and ’08 was dampened a bit by the whole “trusting in Bishop” thing). I am jacked up beyond belief and can’t wait for Sunday to get here!

Now let’s get to the game.

It’s amazing despite playing the Lions 3 times since the end of September that this match-up would present new challenges and angles but that’s exactly what has happened. The big “new” thing is Travis Lulay. We have yet to face him. Also with Logan fully ingrained in the offense now they Lions have miraculously rediscovered the run. Bottom line, throw the last 2 convincing victories out the window and buckle up for a big time challenge.

Let’s start with defense. They have been our biggest strength in the second half of the season and are the stingiest unit in the league. We have a scary D-line, a LB group that is quietly playing very solid and a secondary that leads the league in picks… and may even improve with the possible return of Rod Williams. Also, despite the hype around Lulay let me point out 2 things. 1 – I highly doubt his shoulder is anywhere close to 100% and a few stiff hits in the prairie tundra may prove that. 2 – Even when healthy Lulay was not playing very good. People complain about Durant’s 12 INTs but Lulay had 11 INTs and played way less games. He certainly can be dangerous all I’m saying is that it’s not a given. Key will be to take away the run. We did OK last time but Logan still got some good gains on us. Hopefully we learned some stuff from watching tape of the game against Calgary where Logan/Harris ran wild (albeit against a team who did not care and lost their starting DTs). Without the run BC will be stuck relying on the tender shoulder of Lulay or the tender everything of Pierce. While Nick Moore was their leading receiver, Arceneaux is the one who scares me because of his big play ability, gotta keep that in check. Our D-line should add a ton of pressure against an OL that honestly is very mediocre especially by BC standards. Lulay can/will run so we need to be disciplined on the edges. Stay aggressive, stay smart, stay solid for 60 minutes and despite the hype based on last game I think we will be able to keep their O under wraps. Won't see the turnoverfest we saw last time but expect a couple to be forced by our D.

Offense will be very interesting. On the plus, we will have our top 5 guys in the OL blowing things up for Sheets and protecting Durant. Best will give a huge boost. Sheets will be rested and eager to pound out the yards. Durant will be less banged up than normal (which is about as good as it gets come November). On the downside, I highly doubt Getzlaf plays. Bottom line is that if the news was good they would have told us. The silence and stalling remind me a lot of how BC responded when Lulay got hurt. Bonus if we see him but not counting on it. Let’s not forget that this is a veteran BC defense, coached by one of the best in the business. They have a solid front 4, a ridiculous LB core and secondary of savvy vets. #1 against the pass, #2 against the run. However they play significantly worse on the road than at home. How significantly? They allowed 90 more points on the road than they did at home.  Let’s take advantage of that. First and foremost we need to pound Sheets. He’s motivated, he’s talented and has the OL group back that had him on pace for 2K early on. Second, mix it up. Passes to RBs, get Sanders involved, surprise everyone by throwing to Simon more than his one token pass, anything to keep them guessing. Dressler has been big in the last 2 games with them and we will need him even more with Getz out but guys like Smith and Simon can bear that load too. Bottom line is that our D will keep the game close enough to win even with a mediocre offensive showing. So we need to avoid turnovers and keep things easy on ourselves. Play smart, take shots when they are there and throw a bunch of different looks at them.

Quick note on special teams, with our full set of normal cover guys I anticipate we will be better than last week which will be needed because BC can hurt you with big returns. Would be nice if we could finally get a return TD but I will be happy with securing the ball and consistently getting good field position.

Its playoff anything can happen and BC is a team that could beat us… that said I don’t see it happening. BC has 3 road wins this year… 3! They are not a good road team and now have to some to icy cold Regina where Mosaic will be a deafening madhouse to face an extremely good defense and an offense that can be dangerous when it gets its crap together. It won’t be easy (hopefully not 2010 double OT magic hard as my heart just can’t take than kinda stress) but this is a game we should win and a game we will win.

Riders by 10 including a Geroy Simon TD.

Rest up your voices and lunges and break out any noise maker you got… its playoff time, get ready to unleash hell on the Lions.


Anonymous said...

Them's fightin' words, Rider Prophet. However, I trust you have saved your Saint Crispian's Day speech for next week. Go Riders!

Rider Prophet said...

I won't lie I had to google St Crispian's Day Speech... fantastic reference! I'll likely steal it.

Though I won't lie I'm shocked that a reader of a low brow operation such as mine would be able to make a reference like that.

Skot said...

You're a good writer, Prophet. A wonderful humourous read for the Rider faithful. Thanks for putting the time in to maintain your blog.

Loved your Andrew Green figurine!

Rider Prophet said...

Thanks for the kind words Skot