Preview: Buono’s Last Stand – Lions at Riders
Published: Friday, Oct 26th 2018, 5:10pm
By: Stephen Safinuk (@Safimod)
10 weeks ago, who would have guessed that the Riders and Lions would meet at Mosaic Stadium, with a home playoff game on the line? 10 games ago, the Riders and Lions sat at the bottom of the West Division standings, and fans of both teams had already begun the annual look at “Rider math” to look at potential playoff implications. Now, both teams are eyeing that home playoff game, though BC will need a little help from either Calgary or Edmonton to make that happen.
If Calgary loses on Friday night, Saskatchewan still has an outside shot at 1st place in the Western Division. They would need a win over BC, combined with a Stampeders loss to BC in the final week.
For Saskatchewan, a home playoff game is simple. Win and you’re in. If they lose, things start to get a little interesting, but you can check out this article from earlier this week to look into all the fun ways the Riders can clinch 2nd place.
For BC, a win isn’t enough. They need to win next week as well, and also see Winnipeg lose at least 1 of their remaining two games. If Winnipeg wins both games, Saskatchewan is guaranteed at least 2nd place.
If you want to read more about how the different scenarios that would have the Riders clinch at least 2nd place, check out this article I wrote earlier this week: Playoff Clinching Scenarios
Just Win Baby
Regardless of all the scenarios out there, the Riders need to show up to tomorrow night’s showdown with BC as if their season is on the line. While they may be able to afford a slip-up in the standings, they can’t afford to lose their firm grip on a home playoff game. Let’s face it. It will be far easier for the Riders to win a playoff game in the comfort of their own home, in front of 33,000 screaming Rider fans.
Stay Healthy (Knock on Wood)
Simply put, the Riders need to come out of this game without suffering injuries, especially on the lines. With Bladek, Clark and Brooks all out for the season, the depth is being tested. We have already seen a situation this season that saw Eddie Steele move to the offensive line. I’d rather not see that again.
Keep the Offense Rolling
Zach Collaros has arguably his best game as a member of the Saskatchewan Roughriders last week, and it came against one of the better defenses in the league. That should give Rider Nation some hope going up against one of the hottest defenses out there right now. The game plan will likely stay very similar. March the ball up the field and keep the ball away from the BC Lions offense. The only thing they need to do better than last week is…
Get In the End Zone
Thanks to another stellar performance from the defense, the Riders offense didn’t end up paying for a lack of finishing drives. As great as Brett Lauther has been, the Riders need to put up touchdowns with more regularity.
Strong Defensive Line
The defensive line may have been shut out last week when it came to sacks, but they did a solid job of putting pressure on Bo Levi Mitchell. They need to continue that this week, especially with Tyrell Sutton at RB1 for BC. He is a game-changing back, and newcomer DT Levar Edwards will have his hands full. We have seen a difference when Mic’hael Brooks is in the lineup, but here’s hoping Edwards can help shore up the middle of that line.
Solid Work from the Offensive Line
Given the injuries to Bladek and Clark, one of the biggest worries going in to last week’s game in Calgary was protection. While Collaros may have been sacked 3 times, he was often given more than enough time to find the guys he needed. With former Riders Odell Willis and Shawn Lemon bookending the Lions defensive line, the guys protecting Collaros and company will need to be at their best. Thanks to his blocking ability, the addition of Cameron Marshall to the backfield will be key.
Get Off the Field, Wally
This isn’t really a key to the game, as much as a much needed edition to the preview this week. With Wally Buono’s last trip to Mosaic Stadium (barring a Western Final trip to Regina), I certainly hope the fans rain down “WALLLLLLLYYYY’S” all game long.
As funny as it would be to see the Riders line up to kick a field goal, down 5 points, on the last play of the game, I don’t think it will come to that.
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