Sunday the 8-3 Riders will try to get back on track after a dismal outing last week. Luckily the schedule offers them an absolute gift of a match-up with the 1-8 RedBlacks coming to town. This is by far the easiest match-up left on our schedule and so it is the perfect opportunity to work out all the crap we need to in order to get back to playing football at a level that at least gives us a chance to be a contender come November.
There’s really no way of putting this nicely… Ottawa is terrible.
- They have just 1 win, and are winless on the road
- They are averaging 14 pts per game and haven’t scored more than 10 points in a game in their last 4 attempts (a span that has produced just one solitary offensive TD... one!)
- They have the worst run game (averaging a lowly 66 yds/game)
- They have the least passing TDs
- They have the least sacks and takeaways on defense
- They have the worst run defense (allow 129 yds/game and most rushing TDs)
- They have the worst pass defense (most yards allowed, highest completion % allowed)
Yet currently their odds of hosting a playoff game are as good or better than ours. (I think we are all prepared to die a little inside when we see how few wins the 2 East teams that make the playoffs will have.)
Sunseri needs to bounce back and Ottawa provides him the perfect opportunity to do so. Now I’m not saying he needs to come out throwing like the 2nd coming of Doug Flutie but we do need to see improvement in his game. His reads and decisions need to be quicker and more decisive. Let me remind you that running our offense does not mean needing to throw for 300+ yards. We don’t need him to suddenly try and morph into a gunslinger, we just need him to trust his instincts more and get the ball out when he is called on to throw. To put in bluntly, if he can’t get it done against this defense, he better start working on his resume. He will have strong run support this game. We ran for 100 on a very good run D in Hamilton when they had zero reason to respect the pass. Ottawa is far worse against the run so whether or not Sunseri gets it together we will be logging yards on the ground. Ottawa probably got their best performance of the season from their defense last game against BC so don’t expect to lie there and just take it but there is no reason we can’t have success against them. Based on their current offensive struggles we need just 2 measly TDs to all but guarantee victory... hell 1 and a FG probably amounts to an insurmountable lead.
Defensively I fully expect a dominating performance. We are a very good defense facing a team that has 1 offensive TD over the past month +. Burris is prone to struggles when he has talent around him. What chance does he have now that he is surrounded by receivers not good enough to stick as #4 receivers anywhere else? And now that they are without Chevon Walker, their run game has descended to almost comical depth (not that it was consistent even with Walker in). Our D-line will have Burris running for his life and our DBs have better hands than their receivers so expect turnovers (historically Burris serves them up in groups of 3). Unless it comes in garbage time, I just don’t Ottawa scoring a major (I’ve seen chess teams, with better chances of scoring). 2-3 FGs max with strong chances of a shutout.
Ottawa’s best chance of scoring (like most teams that face us) will come on special teams. We have allowed a kick return TD in 4 of our last 5. That is embarrassing. I’ve been saying all along that it is a product of all the injuries we have along the Canadian core of our special teams but that’s just our reality. It doesn’t look like we will be getting guys back soon so we better learn to be better with the guys we have. Better punting from Milo would help.
I don’t like being this cocky about our chances (especially given what we most recently witnessed at QB) but there’s a good chance we could win this game if our offensive and defensive players switched sides for the day. If for some reason we find a way to lose this game then you have my permission to hit the panic button. But let’s have some faith in our team and be confident they will win like they are supposed to. Sunseri will still look shaky at times but will be show enough improvement to re-instill faith…
Riders by 14 (one of which is likely a defensive TD)