Saturday night Mosaic Stadium will play host to a big time event, something that will be remembered for ages. I’m talking of course about our last chance to hurl insults at Wally Buono (assuming he actually stays away from coaching this time). There’s also a pretty big football game going on as the 11-6 Riders take on the 9-7 Lions. The Riders are looking to clinch a home playoff game and keep their slim chances at first place alive. BC is looking to keep their chances of a home playoff game alive. The stakes are higher than people who tried marijuana for the first time this month.
Lots has changed since these 2 teams met back in week 11. After starting 3-6 the Lions have gone 6-1. They were the early favourites to miss the playoffs but now have a shot at second. Much like the Riders they have been powered by their defense. Mid-season acquisitions of Sutton, Posey, Lemon and Coleman strengthened them. Offensively they pose a challenge but then again 12 stuffed animals strewn about the field would prove challenging for our offense. It starts up front. We need to be able to keep Lemon and Willis from getting to Collaros. BC now leads the league in sacks so we need another strong showing from our OL. A strong run game would help. BC ranks 6th against the run so we need to attack that. After last week’s showing give me more Cam Marshall. When we pass Collaros needs to make good decisions. Keep leaning on Lambert and spreading it around to the rest. Roosevelt will be back which is a big boost. Rose and Orange have combined for 10 INTs this year so Zach can’t be reckless with the ball. (Side note: I just found out that Anthony Orange is just AJ Jefferson with a changed name. Who knew?). 2 TDs, no turnovers and a ton of FGs seems to be our recipe for success so that should be the target. I think we’ll need 25 points minimum to win this.
Defensively while BC has certainly been playing better of late they aren’t among the top Os in the league (ranked 5th overall). Since they started playing Terrell Sutton two games ago he has had 22 and 16 carries. So, its no secret that he is going to get the ball a lot. He’s fresh from woeful underuse in Montreal. Priority 1 is stopping him. BC’s O-line is so-so so if we can take away the run and turn up the pressure on Lulay, good things will happen… at least for us, no so much for Lulay and is achy-breaky body. Hughes will play and you can bet he will be fired up to get back to football. We need to keep Burnham and Posey from making the big plays in the pass game (easier said than done with the catches Burnham can make). If Lulay is forced into extended drives I think our defensive strength will win out. BC also turns the ball over 3rd most in the league and we will likely need a few of those.
Normally we would need to be wary of Chris Rainey on returns but he will not play so that's less of a concern (still we have allowed to many of those this year). It would also be nice to add some big returns of our own. We got close last week with both Marshall and Purifoy. I’ll predict Moore takes a punt to the house in this one.
This will be a tough match-up. BC is playing their best ball at the right time. But here’s the thing… the suck on the road (a younger Prophet would have found a way to spin the term suck on the road into an inappropriate joke but I’m far more mature these days). They are 2-6 away form BC place. They have 5 passing TDs on the road. That’s bad even by our lowered offensive standards here. They did just win in Calgary so they aren’t hapless on the road but it is a weakness. While it would be fitting for the Riders to do things the hard way and lose this game, I think they will come out strong in front of the home crowd. I expect an early defensive battle with very few points scored. Things will open up in the second half but in the end the Riders will take care of their own business…
Riders by 5
Side note: Given that if we lose this game by 2 or less we can still win the season series and clinch 2nd there are a number of crazy scenarios that could arise. For example: dying minute of the game we are driving, down 5. A TD wins it but an FG could clinch us second. Do you kick and easy FG to lose by just enough? Or risk getting the TD to win outright? I personally think that Chris Jones plays to win and that’s how he will coach and let the standings take care of themselves. But if the Stamps win Friday and first is no longer attainable it then you start to wonder. I mean this wouldn’t even crack the top 10 list of craziest things Chris Jones has done.