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Week 10: Riders vs Eskimos preview

Published: Friday, Aug 25th 2017, 6:08pm

By: Stephen Safinuk (Safimod)

Offense:

As long as the Edmonton Eskimos have Mike Reilly, they will be a threat offensively. Brandon Zylstra returns from the 6-game injured list, and it couldn’t come at a better time with yet another Eskimo receiver moved to the injured list. Also missing in action this week for the Eskimo’s is longtime Rider WR Chris Getzlaf, who is spending a little time on the practice roster. A receiving corps of Duke Williams, Bryant Mitchell, Shamawd Chambers and Brandon Zylstra is a whole lot less scary than Bowman, Williams, Chambers/Getzlaf, Zylstra, Hazelton.

At RB, I would give a slight advantage to the Riders, but Ladarius Perkins has done well with his opportunity after John White, Travon Van and Kendial Lawrence all went down to injury. He is a solid back and needs to be respected.

The Riders head to Edmonton with the same offensive unit that put up 41 points versus BC. Like Alex, I am not a fan of having 3 imports along the offensive line, especially if it is keeping Caleb Holley on the sidelines. Having said that, if it works like it did last week, I have no issues with having two national receivers if it gives Kevin Glenn time to work. If the Roughriders want to come out of Commonwealth Stadium with a win, they need to work the short game with expert precision. A lot of sweeps, screens and short dumps to use the Eskimo’s aggressive defense to the Riders advantage. The occasional deep bomb to Roosevelt and Carter won’t hurt.

Defense:

An already talented defensive line got a whole lot scarier when Hamilton traded John Chick to the Edmonton Eskimos. Chick, along with Almondo Sewell, and Odell Willis, form a very impressive front three. It’s that type of talent that allowed Chris Jones to run the 3-man rush while in Edmonton. Our offensive line better be ready to play from the opening snap because there are no plays off when you have Willis and Chick running at you. Their motors don’t stop.

On the flip side, Nick James has added the piece that the Roughriders have been missing this year, with a dominating push up the middle versus BC. The Riders will need more of that if they want to get to Reilly. The key to beating the Eskimos is getting to Reilly early, and often. If you let him get comfortable, he will tear apart the best defenses in the CFL.

Edmonton’s biggest defensive weakness is at Linebacker. Another LB (Korey Jones) made his way to the sick bay in Edmonton and combined with injuries to the likes of JC Sherritt amongst several others, they are really testing their LB depth. As I said above, a healthy dose of screens, combined with a good workload for Cameron Marshall, is exactly what the doctor ordered.

Special Teams:

Those pining for the first view of Chad Owens returning kicks for the Saskatchewan Roughriders will just have to wait another day. Christion Jones will once again be handling kick returning duties after a great game in week 8 versus the BC Lions. In fact, it was the most productive game by a punt returner since Corey Holmes busted off 181 yards versus Toronto in 2002 (source: Ian Hamilton).

Overall:

In the end, this game will tell us a lot about what we can expect from Saskatchewan in 2017. Is this the team that will put up a fight at home, only to crap the bed when they hop on the plane? Are they the type of team that will take advantage of a group that has been decimated by injuries? Are we going to be competitive against the west, or an afterthought?

All these questions should be answered tonight. This is not a “must win” game for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, but it is absolutely a must compete. A blowout loss like they suffered versus BC three weeks ago, and we will know we stand on the outside of the Western Division looking in. A win, or at least a competitive effort, and there is plenty of hope for the 2017 team.

This game will come down to which Rider team gets on the plane. If we pack our home team, Riders walk out of Commonwealth with a much needed victory. If we pack our road team, the Eskimos will be 8-1 and the Riders will be sitting farther behind the rest of the pack in the Western Division.

Prediction:

Riders 35
Eskimos 31

 

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