Sunday the much hated Stamps are back in town for the 2nd of 3 meetings this year. The Stamps are undefeated (though for context they have only beaten 1 team that currently has a winning record). The Riders are looking to end a 2 game slide and to prove that life can go on without Duron (that’s the last you’ll hear me mention Duron as I’m already sick of talking about it). The Stamps are about the most well rounded team there is. They have few weaknesses and have been dominating most opponents… there has however been one exception.
The Stamps and their #1 D have not allowed more than 18 points to any team… except the Riders. The Stamps and their #2 ranked O rarely turn the ball over. In 7 games they have a league low 8 giveaways… 3 of those came against the Riders. While there’s no bonus points for coming close, the fact is that the Riders have been the only team thus far to put up a respectable fight against the much vaunted Stamps. Now to be fair that fight came after spotting them a 20+ point lead in one of the worst quarters of football I’ve witnessed but the Riders played the Stamps hard and hopefully that’s something that can be built on.
This goes without saying for anyone who witnessed the 1st quarter massacre a few weeks back but if we hope to have any chance of beating the Stamps, we need to start strong. Slow starts have plagued this team, particularly at home. Trivia question for you… in 4 homes games, how many first quarter points have the Riders scored? Then answer is 1, 1 solitary freaking point! We are not exactly built to come from behind so maybe not starting the game like were half asleep would be a good idea. Interestingly enough we also average just 3.8 points in the 3rd quarter at home. Seems it takes us a while to get going out of the tunnel. Problem is Calgary isn’t a team that will give you that time. Calgary has never trailed after half time this season, we will need to change that narrative if we want an upset.
On defense, provided we can manage to put every player we intend to play on the game day roster, we should be good. A big change from last game is that Don Jackson is likely to return at RB which will be a big upgrade from Morris who we saw last time. Still our run D has been rock solid so not overly worried. The big concern is limiting the big plays (I realized I just used the word big 4 times in 2 sentences, I should maybe look into a thesaurus). Mitchell leads the league in passes over 30 yards. Having Marshall in the secondary again should help in that regard. While the Stamps rarely turn the ball over, we will need our D to force a couple turnovers in this. They got 3 last time so there’s hope.
Offensively Collaros should give us a boost from the non-existent O we had in the first meeting. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Terran Vaughn is injured so Takoby Cofield will be manning the left tackle spot. Our O-line is not great but have been holding their own not bad of late. From what I remember of Cofield in the preseason he made Charles Thomas look like an impenetrable wall by comparison. Definite concern here. We will need to establish a run game to save our line and Collaros. We managed 100 yards rushing last time we played… though that was more a quantity than a quality thing. But running alone will only lead to the chorus of boos we heard last time. We need to throw. Provided he is given time Collaros should be able to move the ball. We will probably need to use Spencer Moore at TE to help Cofield with blocking. With that WR who use to wear #89 gone and Roosevelt likely facing quadruple coverage someone is going to need to step up. Based on what I’ve seen I would say the most likely candidate is Williams-Lambert. He’ll need 100 yard game. As for Rob Bagg, if he dresses I expect he will make a max of 2 catches. Each will be for 5 yards of less and lead to a thunderous standing ovation (He’s the new/old Chris Szarka). Above all we need to limit turnovers. We remain undefeated when winning the turnover battler and winless when losing it.
Special teams is going to be a factor in this one. Last time we gave up a punt return TD and we can’t do that again. Christion Jones has been consistently good but it would sure be an opportune time for him to make a huge impact on a game again.
Our next 4 games are against western opponents and we need to win at least 2 of those to stay relevant in the division. BC suddenly has some life again so we can’t even coast into the crossover anymore. Both logic and my gut tell me that this will not be one of those 2 needed wins.
I do expect a tight game like we saw in quarters 2 through 4 last time. After the loss in Edmonton and all the drama of the bye I think this team is ready to blow off some steam. With the home crowd on their side I expect them to come out guns a blazing (and by that I mean defense will be awesome and offense will score 2 FGs… that’s guns a blazing by our current standards). The game will be closely contested. I will even go so far as to say the Riders will lead at some point in the second half. That said in the end I think the team that is excelling in all 3 phases will overcome the team that is excelling in 1 phase, doing pretty good in 1 phase and doing not even good enough to earn a participant ribbon in the other. Just because it sucks to hear, doesn’t make it any less true.
Stamps by a DaVaris Daniels TD
If there’s any consolation, it’s that generally when I write the Riders off, they play really well to spite me. Hopefully that means both me and the Stamps will be smoten.