Before starting today’s post I just want to pause and acknowledge how utterly satisfying those two missed FGs were last night in Winnipeg. One of the worst kicks I’ve ever seen and then a doink to top it all off. Chef kiss.
Back to your regularly scheduled programming…
Saturday the 4-4 Riders, fresh off a bye, are in Edmonton to face the 2-6 Elks. Both teams are in a need of a win. The Riders to end a 3 game losing streak and keep themselves playoff relevant. The Elks to avoid dropping to 2-7 and essentially being 4 games out of even crossover contention with just 9 games remaining.
I would like to feel confident about facing the Elks. I mean this is a team that is 0-6 vs. the West and averaging just 14 points for and 40 points against in those games. They have yet to score more than 16 point against a western opponent. This is a team that starts Duron Carter at safety and routinely cuts 1 player for each point scored that week. But… you will recall that back in Week 2 a much healthier Rider team really struggled against the same Elks team. Now is not the time to get overconfident.
Defensively we will get a huge boost from the return of Pete Robertson. How important is Robertson? He was leading the league in sacks when he was the victim of a deliberate attack… a month has passed and no one has yet passed him in the sack race. Simply put, when we can rush the passer, we go from a very good defense to a dominant one. Now we still don’t have Leonard and Marino but Robertson will give a much needed boost. And this is exactly the opponent you want when you are looking to rebound. They don’t score, they allow more sacks than anyone not named us, they don’t run. A rested Shivers D should feast in this one. I keep hearing talk about how Cornelius is improving. I have never gotten the positivity on him. He’s not very good. Maybe he improved from super sucky to slightly less sucky but he still is completing less than 60% of his passes and has 3 INTs to 2 TDs. Kenny Lawler is the one thing we need to worrying about. We saw that first hand in the first game. Though I will point out that Manny Arceneaux has more yards and catches than Duke.
Offensively run the damn ball! Morrow had over 150 yards from scrimmage in the last meeting. He’s fresh and since I’m guessing we didn’t suddenly learn to pass block over the bye, running is our best chance. Hickson steps back in as well so let’s make sure he gets some opportunities as well. Edmonton averages 123 rush yards allowed per game. Don’t get cute and overthink it. As off writing this Na’ty Rodgers has missed back to back practices and him starting is in doubt. I don’t wish injury on anyone but if this finally forces us to see if someone else can do better (spoiler alert, they can’t do worse) then seize the opportunity. We will need to pass in this one at some point and Duke is a guy we need to get going. The more you feed him the more he steps up. I know its been a trainwreck of late when we try but the skill is there so we gotta help him push through the mental. I will again point out that Duron is their safety. If you can't bait him into a busted coverage then you should give up offense. I would like point out that the Elks have a league low 11 sacks on the season… but 4 of those came against us in week 2 so we should probably just shut up on that one. The Elks have never held a team under 24 points this season. I bet we try to prove that wrong but still the points should be there.
This could be a very ugly game. It features the 2 teams with the least offensive yards in the CFL. We need to follow the game 2 blue print and win with defense and running. If we just limit mistakes we should win. And we need to. A win keeps us above .500 and gives us the season series with Edmonton. A loss leaves us just 1 game ahead of the outlandish experiment that is Chris Jones’ year 1 plunge for the bottom. If we can’t win this game then we might as well start planning for next year because it only gets worse from here.
They will try their best to lose and piss me off in the process but I still like the Riders to pull this out.
Riders by a Lauther FG. (Things may not be great in Riderville but at least we can have faith that our kicker won’t screw us over when called upon).