Heading into this game the Calgary Stampeders sit at 10-4, while the Riders are 9-5. Both teams are coming off subpar performances on Thanksgiving weekend — Calgary got pounded by the Alouettes in Montreal 46-19, while the Riders lost for the first time this season at home 24-19 to the dismal Toronto Argonauts. Thanks to the ineptitude of the B.C. Lions and Edmonton Eskimos, both the Riders and Stamps have clinched home playoff dates. The only question is, which team will finish first, and secure covetted home field advantage in the West final on Nov. 21.
If the Stamps beat the Riders, they’ll more or less clinch first place, as they’d have to lose their three remaining games while the Riders would have to win all three of theirs to overtake them. A Rider victory, and the teams would be tied. But the Riders would hold the edge because they’d have beaten the Stamps in two out of their three meetings this year.
Following this game, Calgary has home dates against B.C. and the Hamilton Tiger Cats remaining, along with a road game in Winnipeg against the Bombers. The Riders, meanwhile, close out the season with road games in Edmonton and B.C., and a home date against the Eskimos Nov. 6. On paper, Calgary has the tougher schedule. But the Riders this year have shown a disturbing tendancy to play down to the level of their opposition. Three of their five losses thus far have come against teams with losing records — Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto.
Over the last few years, the Stamps haven’t enjoyed much success against the Riders at Mosaic. So after the dust settles today, the Riders and Stamps might well be tied. But the Riders would still have some work ahead of them in order to clinch first. The team has played a lot of sloppy football in 2010. Horrible special teams, too many turnovers, an anemic running game and poor run defense — all have been causes of concern for coach Miller and his staff.
Unless the Riders find a way to eliminate the big M mistakes it’s hard to see them winning it all this year. Still, Calgary and Montreal have looked pretty ordinary at times too. And while Hamilton has looked good lately, they typically play abysmally against the Als. Until that changes, they’re a definite long-shot to challenge for the Cup this year.
Game time is 2 p.m. As usual, TSN will have the bracast — I mean, broadcast.