Saturday the Riders travel to BC to face the 3-5 Lions. The Riders are riding high after taking down the previously undefeated Stamps. The Lions are in a rough patch, going 1-3 over their past 4 games.
What makes me confident about this game is also what worries me. On paper, this is a game that the Riders should win. This is also a game that has trap written all over it. After a big home win against the top team in the league it would be easy to get overconfident and go on the road and lay an egg against a far weaker team. This will be a big test of the players’ mental toughness and the coaching staff’s ability to keep the team focused.
BC is a weird team. They are led by the best coach in CFL history and have a talent laden roster but have been a bottom feeding team for the past year and a half. Some of that can be pinned on Jennings’ regression as a QB but they are still only 2-3 with Lulay back at the helm. Despite their record there are a number of reasons why this team should not be taken lightly. 1 - They are undefeated at home. All of their loses have come on the road. BC Place seems to give them a boost. 2 – They have beaten the Esks and Bombers already. 3 – Their schedule through the first 8 games has been as tough as they come. 6 of their 8 games have been against teams with a winning record. Wally has turned teams around before so it would be perilous to view this as an easy win.
Offensively we need to keep building on the progress we’ve made since Collaros returned. He has not been sacked since his return (a stat I found amazing) and he has not thrown a pick. I know people are throwing cold water on the Collaros train by pointing out that 270 passing yards and 1 solitary offensive TD last week are not that impressive but a) that was against the best defense in the CFL and b) we are a team that is built to win on D and Special Team so all we need is decent offensive play to win (as evidenced by last game). In order for our offense to keep rolling we need to stay committed to the run. For all my criticisms of McAdoo (of which there are many… many, many, many) we currently have the #2 rushing attack in the CFL. BC is #6 in defending the run (clearly missing Elimimian) so that’s where our attack needs to start. We also need to keep working the Williams-Lambert connection. We need a non-Roosevelt WR to be productive for our pass game to work and he is the man for the job. Lee and Rose are playmakers in the BC secondary but Orange and Peters don’t scare me. Spread the ball around and don’t turn the ball over. We need multiple TDs in this one not just a million FGs. Though the way our defense is playing I have a feeling 2 TDs on O will be enough.
Defensively priority #1 is stopping the run. Jeremiah Johnson is a very good RB and he will certainly be leaned on to help the BC O-line deal with our pass rush. I don’t think BC has ran the ball near enough this year… but then again you are probably sick of me complaining about a lack of running by now. I know Lulay is a good QB and he’s throwing to all-stars like Arceneaux and Burnham but if we shut down the run and make them one dimensional then I like our chances. BC’s O-line has not been great so I expect our D-line to be disruptive. BC has also turned the ball over 3rd most in the league. We need to feast on that. I say it’s a 3 turnover minimum on Saturday.
Any game where you are facing Chris Rainey, special teams immediately become very important. He has the ability to change a game at any point. We need to contain him. Add in Christion Jones and you have a game with the top 2 returners in the League right now. If one of the 2 manages to score I think that team will win.
As much as logic would dictate the Riders continue to roll after just beating a much better team, logic is not something the Riders have ever been big on… particularly in the Chris Jones era. BC plays tough as home so I expect a tightly contested, low scoring game. BC has allowed just 17 points per game at home and that includes facing Edmonton and Winnipeg who have much more potent offenses than we do. I also expect a far more stressful and frustrating contest as BC will hold the lead at some point and we will need to claw our way back into things. The game will be closer than it should but a late turnover will swing momentum back our way and lead to a game winning FG by Lauther
Riders by 3