Wednesday, November 15, 2017
10 THINGS I THINK I THINK
2 - WHY STOP NOW?: It's safe to say the 2017 Roughriders have exceeded most everyone's expectations, except for their own. Simply making the playoffs in Year 2 of the Chris Jones regime was impressive enough because as of mid-August - when the team was 2-4 - I was already preparing excuses. But 3 months later they've dethroned the defending champs in their house, and all that's left to make history is a win over the Toronto Argonauts in the East Final this Sunday. Granted, that's a very big step.
3 - ARRRRRRGOS: The 9-9 Argos have been listed as 1.5-point favourites on Sunday which is hardly a surprise. They won their division, and they're at home. In a preview on the CFL website, the Argos have been given the edge at QB, RB, DL, LB and DB. I'm starting to wonder why we're even playing the game! The Riders only got the nod at REC and K. The OL and KR game were a push and I'd say the same for the coaching match-up. Toronto's Trestman and Chamblin have won multiple Grey Cups while we already know how proficient the Saskatchewan staff is.
4 - THREE ISN'T A CHARM: I don't buy the notion that it's tough to beat a team three times in one season. The Riders beat the Argos 38-27 in Week 6 and 27-24 in Week 16. Close enough games, yes, but I feel Saskatchewan is the more-talented unit. If they protect the football and their quarterback, limit their penalties and are fundamentally sound, they will advance to the 105th Grey Cup in Ottawa and be the first western team to do it on this particular road.
5 - BURNING BRIDGE: Who knows if we'll see back-up Rider QB Brandon Bridge on Sunday? If all goes well for Saskatchewan, we won't. However no matter how this all plays out, Air Canada will have plenty of suitors at his door this off-season. His stock is going through the roof and he could have his pick of the Riders, RedBlacks and Alouettes and may even hear from the Argos and Ticats. His future is plenty bright.
6 - THE BIG SMOKE: We're already hearing grumbling about apathy towards the East Final in Toronto. It's such a worn out cliche. The first ever CFL playoff game at BMO Field will be an electrifying event and it's something I've spoken to Commissioner Randy Ambroise about: Let's celebrate what IS and not concern ourselves with what ISN'T. If Toronto doesn't grab ahold of this game with gusto, they're missing out!
7 - GET YOUR TICKETS: With the RedBlacks falling out of the CFL Playoffs, plenty of Grey Cup tickets have gone up for sale from RedBlacks season ticket holders. That's not to say this city isn't interested. They're just trying to get their money back and if the Riders are in, they'll go fast. However the RedBlacks ESF loss hasn't dampened the steam for the 2017 Grey Cup. We've spent a lot of time here in the past while and I can tell you this might be the best Grey Cup ever.
8 - NIGHTMARE MATCH-UP: Not to look too far down the road, but some have said an Edmonton-Saskatchewan Grey Cup would be a headache for the CFL. I don't agree. The Eskimos and Roughriders are the two marquee franchises in this league and there are many reasons why a championship game between the two would be appealing. However topping the list would be Chris Jones versus his former team. That's as delicious of a storyline as the CFL could muster!
9 - MIKE MCCULLOUGH: I've heard the gripes about the CKRM football analyst for awhile now and this week it popped up on Social Media. Some Rider fans don't care for Mike's critical tone, but that's Mike. The Rider great was hired for his opinions and the fact is he's been through more personal strife than most people could bare. Whether he's right or not is a matter of opinion. But getting worked up about someone else's opinion is a waste of time and money.
10 - THE WEST: The Western Semifinal played out like we expected, but it didn't play out like we expected. Edmonton beat Winnipeg 39-32, yes, but injured Bomber QB Matt Nichols didn't let his team down. Winnipeg scored more points than the Riders did that day! No, the Bomber defense was their Achilles Heel in this year's playoffs and now Bomber fans must be wondering if they'll get this close again. As for the West Division Final and Edmonton at Calgary, the Stampeders are favoured by 5-points. I've got the Esks to advance.