Saskatchewan: 0-2 – Last in the West Division
BC: 0-1 – Tied for 2nd in the West Division
THE WEEK BEFORE
The Riders lost 42-40 to the Argos in double OT. The REDBLACKS came back to drop the Lions 27-16.
*Note that the Lions have played one less game than the Riders.
The Riders lead all team offensive categories in the CFL, averaging 542 yards per game, with a net average of 538 yards per game. This average is nearly 200 yards more than the next team. The Riders are passing and rushing for an average of 381 and 161 yards per game, respectively. The Lions’ offence is 6th overall in the league, with only 254 passing yards and 59 rushing yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Riders are 5th in yards allowed per game (6th passing/6th rushing), while the Lions are 7th (5th passing/9th rushing).
THE STORY LINES
Both teams look for their first wins of the year after disappointing starts to the year. The Lions got off to a good start in their opening game, but faltered in the 4th quarter, allowing the REDBLACKS to score two late TDs to win. The Riders are 0-2 for the first time since 2011 (also known as the FAILED GREG MARSHALL EXPERIMENT), but have only lost both games by a combined total of 6 points. However, the Riders have dug themselves a bit of a hole to begin the season, losing two games at home. A win on the road would go a long way to helping them dig themselves out.
A few notable players and coaches switched sides over the offseason. Former Rider offensive coordinator George Cortez now has the same role with the Lions. Rider PK Paul McCallum was released by the Lions just prior to training camp after playing for the team for nine years. This will be McCallum’s first game back at BC Place since being released, and he comes in with a 100% field goal percentage. Not too shabby.
Quarterbacks: Kevin Glenn has put up spectacular numbers through the first two weeks of the season. He’s 3rd in passing in the CFL, but he’s also played one less half than the two QBs in front of him and only trails the leading passer by 38 yards. Travis Lulay played his first full game in nearly two years last week. He looked a little rusty, and he seemed to be forcing the long throws. This week will be a test as that shoulder gets two straight weeks of work. Edge: Riders
Offensive lines: The Riders’ offensive line has been surprisingly strong thus far, allowing only 1 sack thus far, and letting KG do all of that passing. The Lions’ offensive line, though, is full of Lions’ rookies; only one player on the Lions’ offensive line remains from last year’s group. Edge: Riders
Receivers: Both teams heavily rely on their receivers for offence. This is a big turnaround for the Riders, who have been known as a rush-first offence for the last couple of years. BC’s receivers are more prototypical receivers – tall, strong and speedy – while Saskatchewan’s receivers are a lot smaller and rely a lot more on finesse and speed rather than height and power. Nevertheless, the Riders have been lighting up opposing defences. The jury is still out on the Lions’ receivers under the new offence run by George Cortez. Edge: Riders
Defensive lines: The Riders’ defensive line has struggled to get pressure thus far this season, but the Lions haven’t had a lot of success either. Edge: No one
Linebackers: The Lions have reigning MOP Solomon Elimimian and Adam Bighill in the middle. The Riders are starting Jeff Knox Jr. and Jake Doughty, both of whom are only in their third and second CFL starts, respectively. Edge: Lions by a lot
Secondaries: The Riders have a veteran secondary, but that secondary is having trouble adjusting to the new illegal contact rules. Instead of playing a man-to-man defence, the Riders now play a type of zone defence that has more holes in it than Justin Trudeau’s election platform. (Yeah, I was reaching there). The Lions’ secondary is officially full of newbies as stalwart Ryan Phillips went down to injury last week. Edge: Riders, but barely because they’re playing like rookies
Special Teams: As noted above, Paul McCallum returns to BC for the first time as a Rider since 2005. Ray Early leads all punters in punting averages and has been a welcome addition to the Riders’ special teams. The Riders’ special teams coverage has been solid. The Lions are starting a rookie kicker who converted all of his field goals and converts last week; his punting, though, was a bit suspect. The Lions also allowed a TD on a return, but lucky for them, it was negated by a penalty. Edge: Riders
For whatever reason, I think the Riders will want this game more. But, the Riders also need to stop taking so many penalties Edge: No one