Friday the Riders open the 2018 season against the same team that ended their 2017 campaign. The defending Grey Cup champs are in town to kick off a new season. If you base things on what we saw in the preseason then the Riders are pretty much screwed. But if you treat preseason results for what they actually are (meaningless) then things suddenly become a lot less bleak. Despite being an East team, the Argos are no pushover.
Offensively a whole lot depends on the performance of our O-line. Toronto has a good D-line with the likes of Lemon, Laing and Beltre. Protecting Collaros has to be priority #1. Time to see if Jones knew what he was doing when he built an O-line with 2 rookies and Dan Clark comprising 60% of it. With Woods and Reed on the 6game IR, there is a hole in the middle of that Argo D that can be exploited. Runs (which we really don't do) and short passes over the middle should be there. I would love to see a heavy dose of Messam and Mason to take pressure off Collaros and the O-line. I would also love a winning lotto ticket and a lifetime supply of whisky but you can't always get what you want. I would work the quick pass game to get the ball out quickly to Carter, Roosevelt, Holley and Williams-Lambert and let them do the work. Lean heavy on Roosevelt because he's dependable and Carter because you want him involved early and often and his head in the game. I don't expect a scoring onslaught but I do expect a mildly competent offensive attack (which will look extraordinary by comparison to the preseason).
I think early in the season the defense will have to step up and win us a few games. It starts up front where we need to and should dominate in the trenches. We should get good pressure with our front 4 and likely even with 3 (not that we ever rush 3). Priority #1 on D is containing James Wilder. He is so dangerous and such a huge part of of their offense. Can't let him run wild. D-line needs to be disruptive and LBs need to be sure on their tackles. In the pass game obviously SJ Green is the worry. The rest of their WRs don't concern me much. The key will be pressure from the D-line. If he has time, Ray will carve you up. Need to get him moving and feel uncomfortable. Actually at his age he is more likely to just throw the ball away rather than run. According to the depth chart Hurl is the MLB which is scary given the presence of Wilder (or any decent RB for that matter). I still hope Eguavoen plays middle with Judge outside (fingers crossed). Also need to watch the check down to Declan Cross which is a sneaky good part of the Argo O. I really think our D-line will power a really strong D this year. With Butler and Gainey at HB, this should be the best D since Chris Jones arrived here (to be fair other than the latter half of last season, the D has been generally awful).
Special teams could play a role. On returns expect Christion Jones to make an impact. I'll even go so far as to predict he gets a TD. On kicks it might be a different thing. Lauther was great in preseason but I bet he misses at least one kick.
I expect a close game where the Argos take an early lead but our D will force a key turnover that turns the tide and we will start 2018 with a win.
Riders by a Roosevelt TD.