After escaping with a 14-9 win last Saturday against the moribund Edmonton Eskimos (game photo above) the Saskatchewan Roughriders have a chance to lock up a home playoff game with a win today at Mosaic Stadium against the B.C. Lions. Not only would a W cinch second-place for the Green & White, it would keep alive their hope of finishing first and hosting the West final. For that to happen, the Riders would have to win their remaining two games against the Stampeders in Calgary on Oct. 26, and at home against Edmonton on Nov. 2, while relying on the Stampeders to lose in Vancouver against the Lions on Nov. 1.
A loss today, though, and the Riders could very well find themselves on the road for both the West semi-final and final depending on how the Ws and Ls stack up the rest of the season.
Having beaten the Lions handily 31-17 on Oct. 4 in Vancouver, you’d think this game would be a guaranteed W for the Riders — especially since the Leos starting QB Travis Lulay remains on the shelf with a shoulder injury. Defensively, the Riders should be able to keep the B.C. offence in check. After their putrid outing against the Eskimos, though, where they scored back-to-back TDs on second quarter drives but were shutout the rest of the way, questions continue to swirl around the Rider offence.
Kory Sheets had his usual reliable game, rushing for 106 yards on 24 carries. But an inconsistent passing game, including two interceptions thrown by QB Darian Durant, and a crucial drop by receiver Chris Getzlaf in the third quarter, hindered the offence’s ability to sustain drives and put points on the board. And Geroy Simon continues to be a non-factor. In the past two games, he’s had two catches for a total of 20 yards.
With both the Grey Cup and West final destined to be held outdoors on the prairies in late November, the old adage that “defence wins championships” is difficult to discount. So despite their offensive woes, the Riders still have to be considered a legit CFL contender. But as we’ve seen several times this year, a lack of offensive production leaves the team vulnerable to a big play or turnover at a key point late in the game that could spell the difference between victory and defeat. Which means more nail-biting times likely lie ahead for Rider fans.
Game time is 5 p.m.