The Riders have been streaky with a capital “S” this year. They started the season with a bang, winning their first three games. Then they proceeded to drop five games in a row, including two where they gassed huge fourth quarter leads. Then starting with the Labour Day blowout against the Blue Bombers, they won five of six. And now, with the playoffs looming, they’ve lost two in a row to Edmonton and Montreal respectively.
Today at Mosaic Stadium the Riders host the Toronto Argonauts (TSN, 2 p.m.) Earlier this season, the Argos looked like they were poised to unseat the Montreal Alouettes as the team to beat in the CFL East.
At stake would be a berth in the 100th Grey Cup which is set for Toronto on Nov. 25. Having the Argos in the game would be a big plus for the CFL in its ongoing struggle to gain traction in Canada’s most populous market. But when veteran QB Ricky Ray and second year running back Chad Kackert went down with injuries, the team hit the skids. Thanks to the inepititude of Hamilton and Winnipeg, the Argos’ 7-9 record is still good enough for second place in the CFL East. But the double Blue have lost five of their last six, including a 36-10 thrashing administered by the Riders at Rogers Centre on Thanksgiving Monday (game photo above).
At 8-8, the Riders are two points up on Edmonton in the battle for third place in the CFL West. Again, because of the ineptitude of Hamilton and Winnipeg, the Riders have already secured a play-off berth. Still to be determined though is whether they’ll finish third in the West and play Calgary, or fourth and cross-over to meet either the Argos or the Ti-Cats in the East semi-final on Nov. 11. If the Riders continue to stumble, and fail to win this game or next Saturday’s encounter in B.C., and Edmonton manages to win either or both of their upcoming games in Montreal and at home to Calgary next Friday, the Riders could be headed east. Toronto, meanwhile, can secure second place in the East with a win today or next Thursday at home against Hamilton.
From there it’s on to the playoffs. I haven’t confirmed it with Earl, Cal and Ron, but they will perhaps stop by on Nov. 9 to offer their picks for playoffs and their assessment of the Green & White’s up and down season.