Pick of the Day: Riders vs. Lions

Years ago, it was quite common for Rider home games to start at 8 p.m. Now, that seems like a relatively ungodly to start a football game — especially considering that short of the Riders hosting a playoff game in mid-November this will be about the only time this season when the Riders will  be under the lights at Mosaic Stadium. In fact, on the Rider website, the game is being billed as Saturday Night Lights after the football-themed NBC drama Friday Night Lights.

The late start time is due to the game being the second half of a twi-night CFL doubleheader with the earlier game between the Argonauts and Blue Bombers kicking off in Winnipeg at 5 p.m. Fortunately, with the stellar weather we’ve been having it should be a pleasant evening for football.

As the Riders 6W-6L record indicates, they’ve had a bit of an up and down season. But after a five game swoon in late July and August the Green & White, bolstered by few key additions on defense, have played reasonably solid football. At 9W-3L, the Lions own the best record in the CFL, and at this point have to be considered favourites to repeat as Grey Cup champs come late November in Toronto. But they are far from unbeatable.

In early July the Riders scored a 23-20 home victory over the Lions (photo above). In that game, kick returner Tristan Jackson had several big returns that helped the Riders win the field position battle and ultimately the game. Tied for the lead-league in sacks with the Blue Bombers at 29, the Lions will be without their lunatic defensive tackle Kalif Mitchell who is sitting out the game with an injured thigh. That should help the Riders’ pass protection schemes, giving QB Darian Durant an extra second of two to find an open receiver, plus also open up a few holes for the the team’s running tandem of Kory Sheets and Jock Saunders. Against Calgary last weekend, that was an effective recipe for the Riders in their 30-25 win.

On offense, the Lions, led by QB Travis Lulay, have been somewhat inconsistent. Last weekend in Edmonton, they continually shot themselves in the foot with turnovers and drive-stalling penalities. As well, B.C. field goal kicker Paul McCallum, who was pretty much lights out last season, has struggled a bit this year. Although he did come through with a last-minute 45-yard field goal in Edmonton to help the Lions escape with a 19-18 win. The Rider D is a bit banged up, but they should be able to hold their own against Lulay and his mates, and as long as they do that the Riders have a shot at winning.

If the Riders do win, they’ll remain in contention for second in the CFL West and a possible home playoff game. A loss, though, and it would be an uphill struggle for them to overtake Calgary for second since the Stamps hold the edge should they end up tied by virtue of their 2W-1L record against the Riders this year.

Again, the game is at 8 p.m. (Mosaic/TSN). And as per the following which was lifted from Facebook plans are still in the works to hold a petition drive at the game to demand a referendum on the proposed new stadium:

Looking forward to seeing everyone there. Facilities management is working with us to ensure we have a space where we are visible and not impeding anyone getting to the game. Regina Police Service will have someone there on Saturday evening to ensure everyone is safe. We’ll be gone before the game ends. Going to be a great event. Hoping to gather 2000-3000 signatures.

Author: Gregory Beatty

Greg Beatty is a crime-fighting shapeshifter who hatched from a mutagenic egg many decades ago. He likes sunny days, puppies and antique shoes. His favourite colour is not visible to your puny human eyes. He refuses to write a bio for this website and if that means Whitworth writes one for him, so be it.