2 - THE LINE: Some pundits don't put as much stock into each week's betting line as I do but consider this: Last week the oddsmakers installed the Stampeders as 6-point favourites. Calgary won 15-9. The line is the truest way to get an accurate depiction of a match-up from a non-biased source. Incidentally, OddsShark predicts Saskatchewan to beat Ottawa 28-22 on Friday evening.
3 - THE HOME STRETCH: This is the most exciting time of year in the CFL and it's fabulous that the Saskatchewan Roughriders are right in the thick of it as we enter the final third. Four of the Riders' last six games are against East Division opponents and the next two games are particularly massive. But who's kidding who? This thing will go right down to the wire and their final win total doesn't matter nearly as much as nailing down a playoff spot.
4- PICKY, PICKY: A fourth-place finish and a crossover playoff berth would suit me just fine. Others are looking down their noses saying, "We need to make the playoffs in the West and do it the right way". I say pshaw. So what if no crossover team has ever advanced to the Grey Cup? There's a first time for everything and the scrappy Riders of 2017 seem like the perfect team to make history. I think the nation would welcome a Calgary-Saskatchewan Grey Cup game in Ottawa.
5 - NFL RECYCLABLES: A lot of football types on both sides of the border are questioning what Chris Jones' fascination is with players from the NFL's scrap heap (Vince Young, Trent Richardson, etc). So I posed that question to the Rider boss on Tuesday and he replied that somebody, at some point, thought these players showed a lot of promise. He feels it would be a disservice not to investigate these opportunities rather than go with unproven American rookies right out of college. In the end, what does it hurt? But Jones has repeatedly stated this isn't about resurrecting NFL careers. It's about winning games for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
6 - THE ANTHEM DEBATE: This has gotten completely, entirely, nauseatingly out of control. And with it now seeping into Canada, the end is nowhere in sight. "Diversity Is Strength" seems, to me, to mean you can do whatever the hell you want and anybody who disagrees shall be flamed. So my stance is this: I will continue to stand for the national anthem because of my respect for what it represents and those who fought (and still serve) in the wars to protect our freedom. Anybody who feels differently can act however they please. But I wish they'd find another way to peacefully protest than this. (In America). These guys aren't stupid. As far as what the Riders did prior to last week's game, it was harmless and shouldn't be viewed as an affront.
7 - PLAZA DEBRIEFING: It's been several days since the Riders' 2017 Plaza of Honour induction gala at New Mosaic Stadium. Reviews have generally been positive and club officials know there are some areas which need to be rectified for 2018. But in the end it was still exactly what you want: A great celebration of Rider Pride, a nod to our franchise greats and a chance to mix and mingle with the past and present personalities of Canada's Team. Kudos to the organizers.
8 - THE FLYIN' HAWAIIAN: An oft-asked question around here is "Will Chad Owens EVER make his Roughrider debut?" As it stands now, the 2012 CFL M.O.P. remains on the Rider 6-game injured list but depending how things go with roster machinations, I'm told we could see him in Week 16 at Toronto. It's clear he's chomping at the bit and a hungry Chad should add up to an explosive debut.
9 - LOCALLY: Rams Head Coach Steve Bryce said his players were "embarrassed" by their showing in Saturday's 18-16 home loss to Manitoba. Now they line up against the Huskies in Saskatoon on Friday in a battle of 2-2 teams ... Meanwhile the Regina Thunder were punched in the mouth 62-30 at the Edmonton Huskies last weekend. Coach Scott MacAulay will still be seething and they'll be looking to atone this Sunday when the Thunder hosts the Calgary Colts.
10 - PATCHAT: The Regina Pats are 1-1 following a season-opening split with the Brandon Wheat Kings and one thing was made abundantly clear to me: #77 Matt Bradley will make people forget about #77 Adam Brooks before long. I shouldn't speak for all Pats fans, but that's how I felt after witnessing Bradley's 2-goal performance on Saturday night ... Meanwhile the traffic snarl in the Brandt Centre parking lot before AND AFTER the game has me thinking public transit options should be offered similar to Rider games to accomodate the sellout crowds. Just my $0.02.