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Riders Need to Take Pride in Their Team

Published: Friday, Aug 4th 2017, 4:08pm

By: Stephen Safinuk (@Safimod)

It seems appropriate that the topic of the article when facing the Lions would be pride. Following their last victory, the Riders came out and figuratively crapped the bed in their Western Division battle versus Calgary. Now, coming off another convincing victory, this time versus the Toronto Argonauts, the Roughriders need to show the CFL what they are made of. They have 3 wins versus western division teams since Darian Durant went down in the Banjo Bowl in 2014. Quite frankly, beating up on the Eastern Division is not going to cut it if this team wants to make the playoffs. Nobody will argue if you say the 2017 Saskatchewan Roughriders are an improved team, but a home and home versus a very-talented team out of BC will truly tell the tale of what’s to come for the 2017 season.  

Offensively: 

This is a battle of the 2 most talented receiving corps in the CFL. Add in Chris Williams in his Lions debut to an already star-studded group of receivers, and you have the makings of a high-powered showdown. 

Naaman Roosevelt, Duron Carter, Caleb Holley, Bakari Grant and Rob Bagg vs Bryan Burnham, Manny Arceneaux, Chris Williams, Nick Moore and Marco Ianuzzi? You can’t ask for a much better showdown in the CFL. The difference, for me, will be at running back. Will the Roughriders be the first team to keep Jeremiah Johnson out of the end zone, or will he find pay dirt again? Which game plan for the Riders will show up? The one that includes Cameron Marshall, or the one that forgets he exists for long spurts? The Lions are good against the run, but the Riders need to establish a run game. They are 2-1 in games that Marshall has more than 10 carries (and the loss would been a win, were it not for a missed FG from Tyler Crapigna in week 1) 

Another key will be stopping the Lions in the red zone. On each of their last 10 trips in to the red zone, the BC Lions have come out with touchdowns. In their last 4 games, they are 16 of 18 (touchdowns in the red zone). Those numbers are staggering, and will spell the difference if they aren’t stopped in this battle.  

Advantage: Even

 

Defensively 

To win, the Roughriders will need to do something they haven’t been doing much of this season. They will need to force BC to turn the ball over. This season, the Riders have the fewest number of QB Pressures (24), the 3rd fewest sacks (10) and the fewest # of forced turnovers (4). On the flip side of that, they are also near the top in fewest turnovers (2nd), fewest pressures allowed (3rd).  
It’s quite simple – win the turnover battle, win the game. They need to get in Travis Lulay’s face, and force him to make mistakes. 

The one battle I find most interesting is the rushing TDs. The BC Lions lead the league in Rushing TDs, while the Riders lead the league in rushing TDs given up. In fact, they have only given up 1 rushing touchdown all year. I said it above. The Riders defense was pretty good against Ricky Ray, and will need to bring the same intensity against another talented veteran in Travis Lulay.  

The Lions, on the other hand, are very middle of the pack when it comes to defense. They aren’t last in many things, but they are more or less average in almost every category. Average may not be good enough against an offense as explosive as the ones the Riders are bringing in to BC Place. If they play “average” they will be lit up. Kevin Glenn and the Riders average 321.1 passing yards per game, and the Lions give up 322 passing yards per game. Put money down on whatever gambling site you use that Kevin Glenn throws for over 300 yards tomorrow night. 

Advantage: Riders 

Special Teams:  

Rookie Quinn Van Gylswyk gets their start with Tyler Crapigna going down to an injury. A lot of fans have been calling to see QVG, especially with key misses from Crapigna early in the season, but Tyler Crapigna has been as reliable as they come after his game-ending misses versus Montreal and Winnipeg. In fact, he’s been perfect since then. QVG, on the other hand, is a more or less unknown commodity. Ty Long, on the other hand, is 15 of 17 on the season, including a LONG of 50 yards.  

On the punting side of things, Ty Long has a slightly longer average on the season, but its close.  

Until we see what QVG can bring as a field goal kicker, the advantage here has to go to BC. 

Advantage: Lions 

Expectation: 

I expect to see a much tighter game than what we saw between the Stampeders and Riders. The Roughriders needs to come out guns blazing if they want to walk out of BC Place with a victory, otherwise it will be a long day in Vancouver. In the end, it comes down to the Riders offense versus the Lions Defense, and I think the Riders offense comes out ahead… barely. 

Riders 35 Lions 32 

 

 

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