I’m sure the CFL had a better match-up in mind when they decided to end the regular season with the Riders travelling to Montreal. Instead the season will end with a whimper as two non-playoff teams (featuring the 2nd and 3rd worst offenses) go head to head in a game that is about as useful as the logistical plans for a Grey Cup parade in Manitoba. They will have good company as two of the other three games will be devoid of meaning and likely starters. So the good news is next week brings an end to a terrible year in Rider Nation and the arrival of playoff football. Yay! The bad news is that if you are reading this it likely means you will be subjecting yourself to the Rider game on Sunday.
As of writing this I have no clue what the game day roster of either team will be. It will likely be a mishmash of anyone with a pulse who was unable to get a sick note from the team doctor. I can tell you that Getzlaf is hurt (again) so Alex Carroll draws in. I can tell you that Ainsworth and MacDougall (i.e. two of the guys I would actually be interested in seeing) are hurt so we had to bring in Ryan Wellman and Hugo Lopez… mainly because the CFL wouldn’t accept our preferred option to just put 2 pylons on the field instead (we couldn’t prove the pylons had national status). I’ll be somewhat surprised if Kevin Glenn plays, though knowing the other QB options Montreal has he may have to by default. I would actually like to see Montreal give Brandon Bridge some playing time. At this point I will formally apologize to Bridge for cursing him as players I endorse or petition for playing time tend not to pan out (just ask Dylan Ainsworth). Nik Lewis is hurt which is likely welcome news to small children in Montreal.
Keith Price will start and play into at least the 3rd quarter, which I think is the right decision. We have enough film on Smith to know what he brings. We need to give Price more playing time to see if he can progress in his development. We will hopefully also see more of Stephen Houston at RB. If we enter 2016 with Allen at RB I’m fine with that but I want to see him win it in a strong competition instead of be handed it by default. The last time we handed the RB role to someone by default was Henri Childs in 2007. I’d rather not rehash that repressed hatred. Hopefully we either get to see a bit more of Marcus Davis or we get to see LeQuan Williams (which I believe is French for “The Quan”) or Ryan Lankford get some action. Probably would also be a good time to get Matt Vonk some playing time. I don’t think very highly of him but given that he is the closest thing we have to OL depth, it would be nice to know if he can handle playing with the starters.
I will likely use the series we are on defense to go to the bathroom, get a snack and refill my brunch whiskey (look brunch whiskey is a thing because I say it is… plus there is no way I’m getting through this game without the assistance of my old friend JP Wisers) pretty much anything to avoid watching us play. Our defense was a train wreck in games where they were trying… throw in a few replacement players (who I already rate below pylons) and this could get ugly… unless Montreal is stupid enough to play Tanner Marsh. Even our sad sack D could get a turnover off him.
I will go out on not so big a limb and say that this is last time you will see guys like Jackson, George and Brackenridge in green and white. So better enjoy them (or swear at them) while you can. I was going to include names like Mertile and Green as well but that’s so obvious even a CFL referee couldn’t miss it.
I honestly have no clue how to predict this game. We could very well win. Price will be looking to impress. Most of our top offense will be playing. Montreal doesn’t care. That said I can't in good conscious look at our defensive depth chart and feel good about things. Plus for all of Montreal’s failings (which are many) they do have solid D (and can’t very well sit them all) and 2 good running backs who will be looking to do what Jerome Messam did to us.
You know what? What the hell, it’s the last game of the season, so I’m going to do something crazy and predict we win by 7 on some sort of special teams TD. Why not end the season on a positive?