We've heard the same thing the last two weeks, but ummm...this time we really meant it? Once again we will find out what this team is made of. A loss ends any shot at a home playoff game and makes the last two games only meaningful to the point that we are playing for third in the West or the crossover. As far as I am concerned the Eastern teams are playing better and with our performance in Montreal / Hamilton / Toronto that is not an easier path. Win tomorrow and no matter what happens in Calgary, the last game of the season remains important. Unfortunately, we might nned to wind the clock back to the best of 2007 for a win tomorrow
Probable starters: Roughriders - Joseph, Eskimos - Reilly. I don't care what kind of shape Joseph has kept himself in and what a great guy he is. The thought that he can be effective being brought in like this is a long shot. Reilly only threw for 124 yards last time these teams played, but with the way the Esks played defense and ran the ball, that's all he needed to do. Edge Eskimos
Probable starters: Roughriders - Allen, Eskimos - White. Will Ford is back on the 46 which might mean the return of the 3 headed monster. Considering that was when our offense was at its best, it's a weclome return. Allen running the ball was all we had going for us last week. We all ruefully remember what White did to us in the first meeting. Kendal Lawrence is a good one too, but the Esks have him listed as a slotback now. I think Jon Cornish catches him down the stretch but right now, Anthony Allen leads the league in rushing. Edge Riders
Probabel starters: Roughriders - Willams, Bagg, Dressler, Getzlaf, Swain, Eskimos - Foster, Coehorn, Bowman, Stamps, Lawrence - We've said the same thing for weeks now. Are our receivers having trouble getting open or are the QBs just not getting them the ball. Then there is the case of the lingering injury with Getzlaf. Cory Williams draws back into the line for DePalma. Williams only has one game to his credit so far this year. Bowman is by far the league's leading receiver this year. Now imagine his numbers if he still didn't drop as many as he does? I know he's been hurt a lot, but even when healthy, Stamps has not been much of a go-to guy for Edmonton. Speedster Guyton, who cares me, is out. Edge Eskimos
Probable starters: Roughriders - T - Heenan, Adcock, G - Best, Clark, C - Picard, Eskimos - T - Washington, Batiste, G - O'Donnell, Rottier, C - Sorenson. No changes from last week meaning that Adock remains in for Fulton and Labatte misses another one No changes on the Esks o-line either. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Roughriders - DE - Foley, Chick, DT - Walker, George. Esks - DE - Willis, Jefferson, DT - Steele, Sewell. Good to have Walker back in the lineup. I could be wrong but I think I see a trend wehre when he is out of the lineup is when the Riders have had trouble with the run. He was out for the game in Edmonton. There's not much to chose between these two lines. George has been a monster in the 2nd half of the season. Even
Probable starters: Roughriders - MLB - Hurl, OLB - Peters, Brown. Eskimos - MLB - Curran, OLB - McCoil, Lawrence. I think Brian Peters has been one of our better players over the last month. Sam Hurl is listed as the stasrting MLB on the depth chart, but we will see how that holds when the game starts. Rennie Curran is been a real good find for the Eskimos. It's hard to imagine that he has relegated JC Sherritt to a part time player. McCoil has been really good for the Esks too. Edge Eskimos
Probable starters: Roughriders - CB - Wlliams, Jackson, HB - Maze, Harris, S - Brackenridege, Eskimos - CB - Watkins, Foster, HB - Grymes, Young, S - Rwabukamba. Tough game for a couple of guys in the secondary who got beat by big recievers outjumping them for the ball. Edmonton has a very solid secondary with Watkins and Grymes leading the way. Even
Probable starters: Roughriders - Dressler, Jackson, Eskimos - Lawrence. We haven't seen a lot of return yards on punt returns in recent weeks. It's hard to blame Dressler as there haven't been a lot of wholes. Jackson contiues to do well on punt returns. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Roughriders - Milo, Eskimos - O'Nell. I really haven't seen a FG kicker more adept at hitting the upright than Milo. He clanked another one off there in his first FG attempt in few weeks. O'Neill has not been great either, hitting on less than 80 of his kicks. Edge Eskimos
Probable starters: Roughriders - Bartel, Eskimos - O'Neil. After Allen, sadly Bartel was our next best offensive weapon last week. He and O'Neil have similar numbers. Even
When the Riders have the ball
I imagine we will try and establish the run led by Anthony Allen again. He has been a lone bright spot on offense since Darian went down. He had some success in the game in Edmonton too. My guess is that Will Ford will also be on the roster to give us a one-two punch. I am going to stick with my theory that Messam is not healthy, as it makes no sense that he is not getting the ball like he used to earlier in the year. Running up the middle agaisnt the Esks is fordimable with their tackles. Nice to have Best back for this, but Clark will again have his hands full. You probably want to go to Odell Willis's side to slow down his pass rush.
But our running game is not the big topic of conversation for this game. Everyone will want to know what the passing game will be like under Kerry Joseph. Well as a veteran, he should make quicker reads and be more decisive than Sunseri or Doege have been. He will probably take off and run a lot more than we have seen from the QBs recently. I expect that Cortez may call some plays to take advantage of Joseph's mobility. However, we can't turn back the clock. When he runs, he's not going to be able to outrun the likes of Wills and Curran like he used to. When he throws the ball, how's his accuracy going to be? He won't have the arm strenght of past years. Rust will also affect his accuracy.
When the Eskimos have the ball
I don't think it's a stretch to say the Eskkmos will not enjoy as much sucess on the ground as last game. The Riders need to be much more prepared for what the Esks will do on the ground. Last game it was as much getting out-schemed as much as it was guys getting blown off the ball. Case in point was that first 40 yard TD run by White. They had all the motion going one way and then came back with White the other way. Once they got Foley blocked, there was only one guy between White and the goal line. Same thing with the Reilly runs. They would fake to hte back and hope up the whole middle for him. This time with more than one practice going into the game, I expect the guys to do a better job. They should come out better physically as well.
There wasn't much to talk about with the Esks passing game. Their strength is at slot with Bowman and Stamps, so we need Maze, Harris, and Brown to have big games. The way Reilly likes to run, our pass rushers are going to have to stay in their lanes and not give him avenues to escape. I would almost suggest we take someone on defense and spy him on passing downs. There's nothing as demoralzing locking down all the receivers and then leaving it wide open for him to run for a first down. I don't know if it's because teams are leading and don't need to take chances or what, but we are not seeing our defense come up with turnovers in the last few weeks that could really help, giveing hte offense a short field.
It's a huge home game and in recent years, the Riders have come up big in these games. The circumcstances going into this one are quite different though. One of the reasons the team would win a lot of these games recently is that Darian Durant played well for the most part in these big games late, whether the haters want to open their eyes and admit it or not. I just don't know if Kerry Joeeph can come back from being out of football all year and be the guy to lead us to the win. My heart says it can happen, and it would be quite the story. Logically, it's hard to see it happening.
My score: Eskimos 23 Roughriders 17
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