It’s one of my FAVOURITE times of year, y’all – it’s CFL playoff time!

Let’s take a look at this week’s match-ups..

als v bc

Do I care a lot about this game?  Um, no.

Does anybody?

Anyway, I think Montreal wins this game by at least two TDs for the reasons set out below.

BC has confused me all year long.  While everyone knew the Lions would begin the season without starting QB Travis Lulaylemon (i.e. Travis Lulay), most thought Kevin Glenn would be a capable game manager who would simply step into the Lions’ system and hold down the fort, so to speak, until Lulaylemon returned.

Yeah, that didn’t happen.

Instead, BC struggled all year to find any sort of consistency, especially on offence.  Defensively, the Lions held their own; they’re in the top three in most defensive categories.  While defense wins championships, the Lions need to score early and often in order to disrupt Montreal’s home field advantage.

Montreal is an interesting case study.  The Als looked fugly earlier this season, and I enjoyed it immensely.  But somehow they managed to find a QB, Jonathan Crompton (whose flowing locks are no doubt the envy of many men – and women) and they started putting some wins together.  It seems the Als took a few lessons from the Lions, who notoriously started the 2011 season 1-6 but ended up winning 10 of their next 11 en route to winning the 2011 Grey Cup.  But the Alouettes are not nearly as good as the 2011 Lions, and really, Montreal played quite a few games against its weak Eastern Division siblings that likely helped pad their record.

So why do I think Montreal will win on Sunday?  Easy: history, time difference, BC’s poor showing against Calgary to end the season and Kevin Glenn’s ineptitude in big games.  History because Western teams historically struggle in crossover playoff games.  Time difference because the game starts at 1:00 pm in Montreal, which is 10 am Vancouver time.  BC laid a proverbial egg against Calgary in its final game of the season in a game that had huge playoff implications, which doesn’t give the Lions a lot of confidence heading into the playoffs.  And finally, Kevin Glenn does not have a good playoff reputation.  Add in the fact that Montreal is playing at home, and I think it adds up to a solid win for Montreal.

But enough about this game.  Let’s turn to the game that REALLY matters…

riders v esks

Dear PLEASE quit overselling these playoff match-ups.  You should still be embarrassed by dubbing last year’s Grey Cup QB match-up as the best ever.

Anyway, it’s been awhile since the Riders had to go into the Evil Empire’s territory in the playoffs.  Again, I immensely enjoyed how much Edmonton sucked over the past couple of years.  Sadly that time has come to an end.

I must admit that this week my mind has floated back to the 1989 Western Final between the Riders and Eskimos when the heavily-favoured Esks were beaten by the Riders in an outcome that conjured up comparisons of David versus Goliath.  While this Eskimos team is solid, it’s not even close to being on par with the 1989 juggernaut.

The CFL rumor mill has been working overtime regarding Eskimos QB Mike Reilly (sadly I have no mocking nickname for him – yet). Rumor has it that he has a broken bone in his foot.  The Esks’ announced that Matt Nichols will be starting in Reilly’s place. The Eskimos’ nickname for Matt Nichols?  Matty Ice.  Really?  ROFL.

Some Riders’ fans are salivating at the prospect of Matty Ice (?!?!) starting on Sunday.  Sure he threw a few interceptions in a nothing game for the Esks last week.  But now is NOT the time to be underestimating the Eskimos – especially when the Eskimos’ defence was the league’s top defence and the Riders’ offence was MIA for most of the year.

This brings us to the Riders.  Yes, the Riders went on a seven game winning streak early in the season, but when I look back on the 2014 season, I mostly think about the Riders’ inability to score points against the freaking basement-dwelling REDBLACKS. My concerns are not alleviated by the fact that the Riders also have serious issues at QB.  I suspect that while Kerry Joseph will get the start, my future husband or husband in an alternate universe, Darian Durant, will be second on the depth chart.  Given Joseph’s struggles against the Esks’ defensive line last week, I hope and pray that Riders’ offensive co-ordinator George Cortez has been playing possum for the last couple of weeks and brings out the Riders’ actual playbook for the playoffs.

Defensively, the Riders HAVE to stop the run.  The cold weather, plus having a second-string QB starting will likely force Edmonton to run the ball more.  The Riders have to find a way to plug the middle and keep the Esks from picking up 5 or 6 yards on first down. The Riders also have to make sure Eskimos’ MOP Adarius Bowman doesn’t get behind coverage, and the same goes for Fred Stamps.

On special teams, the Riders need their cover teams to be solid.  Any special teams disasters by the Riders’ special teams will significantly affect Riders’ morale and momentum, not to mention my heart rate and sanity.

If Mike Reilly was starting, I’d say the Riders’ chances of winning this game were at about 10%.  Mike Reilly is to the Eskimos like Darian Durant is to the Riders: he’s their leader.  With Mike Reilly out, the Riders’ chances significantly improve.  While my head is telling me the Eskimos win in a close game, my heart says the Riders will somehow eke this one out.

Deron Mayo, Brian Peters,


I sat down a few nights ago to try and put down some thoughts about the Riders/Eskimos game, but I couldn’t really figure out what to say.

Now I do.

See, the Riders/Eskimos and Riders/Stampeders games had a lot in common.  The biggest commonality?  Collapses by the defence in the second half.  

Against the Eskimos, the Riders led going into the second half.  Against the Stampeders, the Riders led going into the fourth quarter.

And then it was as if the Eskimos and Stampeders started actually trying and the Riders couldn’t stop their momentum.  The result?  Two more losses.

On the bright side, the Riders’ offence looked much less anemic.  Yet the special teams continue to leave yards on the field and the Riders can’t seem to play a solid 60 minutes.

The Riders are now off until November 8, when they play their last game of the season at home against the Eskimos.  They need the time left to fix what isn’t working and stop the free fall before heading into the playoffs.

Now for Things That Worked and Things That Didn’t…

Things That Worked

  1. 1st half running game – Keith Tosten made his season debut and didn’t look out of place.  Too bad the Riders didn’t bother using him in the second half.
  2. Chris Getzlaf – Seems it took until Week 18 for Getzy to hit his stride.  He scored his first TD of the season (!) and had 100+ yards.
  3. Brian Peters – Another monster game from the kid who keeps getting better and better each game out.  Add another 10 tackles to his season tally.
  4. Ricky Foley – Hit 50 career sacks.
  5. Kerry Joseph in Quarters 1 to 3 – 300+ passing years, more than ANY Rider QB (including Darian) has thrown all year.

Things That Didn’t Work

  1. 4th Quarter defence – Yuck.  When your offence scores 27 points, you should win.  The Stamps drove the ball down the field at will in the 4th quarter.
  2. 4th Quarter Kerry Joseph – Three picks.  Need I say more?
  3. Second half offence – Why go away from the running game when it was working?

Mis-plays of the Game:

I think most of the 4th quarter would qualify.


#89- Chris Getzlaf, Slotback

First 100 yard game of the year, and first TD of the year.  The Riders need a healthy and productive Getz for the playoffs.  Hopefully his performance against the Stamps is a catalyst for him and the rest of the receivers down the stretch.


#97 – John Chick, Defensive End

Got back in the sack column and had a couple of great tackles and hurries.


Mirror, mirror on the wall, who has the worst special teams of them all?

The Riders, you say?  I wish I could say I was surprised…

NEXT GAME: vs. EDMONTON:  The Riders have a well-deserved break and a chance to really prepare for the last game of the season.  Edmonton likely won’t play many starters in order to rest up for the playoffs.  I expect the Riders to play most of their starters so that they can try and end the losing streak and build some momentum going into the playoffs the following week.  If the team doesn’t come out hungry and determined on November 8, I predict a very early playoff exit.


Photograph by: Graham Hughes, The Canadian Press, The Leader-Post

I don’t understand.

How can a team that nearly came back to beat the league-leading Calgary Stampeders last week turn around and be so lackadaisical against an inferior team?


*Sigh*  I’ve said it once, and I’ll keep saying it: the offensive game plan is not helping these young QBs out at all.  The plan is to basically keep the young’uns from using any of their supposed talent (and I say supposed because when all you do is hand the ball off, it’s hard to tell whether or not you have any throwing capacity).  I don’t understand it.  LET THE BOYS PLAY, COACH.  Given the beat downs this team has taken over the past couple of weeks (with the Calgary game being the very odd exception), why not let the young’uns off the proverbial leash and see what they can do?

Because, really, COULD IT BE ANY WORSE??

We’re already losing.  And by a lot.  The worst thing that happens is that we continue to lose.  On the positive side, there is the possibility that we might a) win; and b) find a good young QB that we actually want to continue to employ.  This whole “can’t let the young’uns loose because they might lose us the game” mentality is ridiculous seeing how badly we lost against the Alouettes yesterday.

I want Kerry Joseph to start on Sunday.  If the team isn’t going to put enough faith in its young’uns to let them throw the ball, then they’d better put in the veteran and let him loose.

Now for Things That Worked and Things That Didn’t…

Things That Worked

  1. 1st quarter – That opening drive looked pretty slick, didn’t it?  Hope you enjoyed it – that might be the best drive we see for awhile.

Things That Didn’t Work

  1. Offence after the 1st quarter – The fumble took the momentum and that was it.  If this team wants to make any noise in the playoffs, it’s got to be a little bit tougher on the mental side of things.
  2. Defence – I don’t usually call out our defence, especially over the last few weeks given how much they’ve been on the field, but they had multiple opportunities to try and quell the Alouettes momentum and they couldn’t do it.  There were at least two sure interceptions that went through defender’s hands.

Mis-plays of the Game:

There were far too many this week to list.


#26- Anthony Allen, Running Back

He had a rather brilliant first quarter.  But after that, everyone knew he was getting the ball 90% of the time, which stifled any further production.


No one

When you get lit up for 40 points, no one gets a star.


#38 – Tristan Jackson, Defensive Back

He got a lot of practice on kick returns on Monday.  He gets a star just for surviving.

NEXT WEEK: vs. EDMONTON:  The Riders got shut out just three weeks ago by the pesky Esks.  Since Edmonton hammered Winnipeg 41-9 and the Riders’ offence against Montreal looked far worse than Winnipeg’s offence was this week, I imagine the Eskimos are going to win this one by a lot.  Definitely bet on Edmonton to cover the spread this week.


                                                  He’s baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!

The post title really isn’t meant to offend Kerry Joseph.  Honestly.  I just happened to be listening to Miranda Lambert’s latest (finally), and the title of one the album’s songs seemed rather apt.

And, well, Kerry Joseph is kind of old.

Especially for a quarterback.

Some have been clamouring for this move for awhile.

Yeah, I’m looking at you, Belton Johnson.

I’m not necessarily opposed to this move, but it just seems so…unimaginative.  So logical.  Sensical (that really should be a word).  The Riders get a veteran quarterback with championship experience without having to give up draft picks and/or key players (suck it, REDBLACKS).

I’d say that there are two schools of thought in Riderville right now.  The first is that there’s no sense in throwing away an entire season just because the quarterback is hurt.  These people realize that the Riders have a pretty solid defence that can somewhat counterbalance an underperforming offence.  So why not get a veteran QB that can step in and manage the game.  The second is that we should stick without young QBs and work on figuring out what we have because Darian Durant is: a) going to get hurt again at some point; and b) is eventually going to have to retire.  Obviously these people look at the Montreal Alouettes’ woes this season as a cautionary tale.

Kerry Joseph was the only option for the Riders, outside of trading for Henry Burris (wouldn’t you like to know exactly what the Riders offered for Smilin’ Hank?)  And it’s not a bad option.  The team’s offence is clearly struggling, and having someone around that knows the pressure of playing at Taylor Field who can step into the locker room and be a leader without making waves is probably a good thing.

But why am I having to work so hard to convince myself that this is a good move?

I should really look on the bright side.  The last time the Riders went looking for veteran QB help, they ended up with Michael Bishop.

That didn’t end well.

So I guess what I’m saying is that at least the Riders didn’t bring in Ryan Dinwiddie, Reggie Slack, Nealon Greene, Marvin Graves, Warren Jones, Steve Sarkisian or Rocky Butler (ahough Rocky Butler did win that one Labour Day game…)

I guess we should consider ourselves fortunate then, right?


For a good 3 and 2/3 quarters, I was quite sure that my birthday would become infamous.

See, last week, the Riders’ offence was so bad that it couldn’t manage to score one point. It was the first time the Riders had been shut out since 1986.

With about five minutes to go in the third quarter on Friday night, it seemed that October 3, 2014 would be remembered as the day the Riders went a second straight game without putting one point on the scoreboard.

But then the futility ended and the comeback began in earnest.

Down 24-0, the Riders quickly scored two touchdowns and made two point converts for each major. Dan DePalma’s 66 yard catch and run TD ended the nearly 90 minute point drought, and then it was GAME ON.

Some say the Stamps’ defence let up. Regardless, the Riders’ offence finally took advantage of what it was given. Unfortunately, though, it was all for not.

You have to wonder if the Riders could’ve won if they’d gone for the first down on 3rd and 1 late in the fourth quarter. If I was Coach Chamblin, I would’ve gone for it (well, I would’ve first challenged the spot). Your team’s offence has finally been finding ways to consistently move the ball, so let them try and win it instead of putting them in a position where they’re trying not to lose.

So much of sport performance is based on mental intangibles like confidence and perseverance. The Riders seemed to have finally regained a bit of that mental toughness and Coach Chamblin stopped that momentum by taking his offence off the field. Yes, the defence should’ve shut down the Stamps on the ensuing drive – but I’d argue that at that crucial point in the game, the whole team could’ve benefited from a show of faith and commitment from its head coach.

Instead, the comeback stalled and the game was lost.

Now for Things That Worked and Things That Didn’t…

Things That Worked

  1. Scoring – Ending the point-less drought was the really the only goal I really had for the Riders, which is so ridiculous.
  2. Defence – Except for that last drive, the defence was quite good. It kept the Riders in the game and looked much better against the run.

Things That Didn’t Work

  1. Seth Doege – I kind of felt bad for him. It looked like Dressler maybe slowed up a bit on that first interception, and there was obviously some miscommunication on the second. He actually managed to get some first downs in the first quarter and was at least trying to stretch the field, which is more than I can say for Tino Sunseri last week.
  2. Kickoffs/punting – Wow. Our cover teams have no chance right now. The inability to kick deep and the lack of any hang time is killing us in terms of field position.
  3. Challenges – Coach, you’ve gotta challenge that spot in the 4th quarter.

Mis-plays of the Game:

Besides the entire offensive performance for the first 3 and 2/3 quarters, the illegal substitution call that gave the Stamps a first down and led to the winning touchdown. And, of course, not going for it on third down late in the fourth quarter.


#82 – Dan DePalma, Wide Receiver

The man that ended the scoring drought.  Enough said.



The defence managed to limit the Stamps to 9 points in the first half when the score likely should have been something like 28-0.  The Stamps played on a short field for most of the first half, making the defence’s performance that much more impressive.


No one

Our special teams suck.

NEXT WEEK: at MONTREAL:  The Riders never play well in Montreal; I don’t know what it is about Molson Stadium, but it seems to be surrounded by some sort of vortex that causes the Riders to play rather badly.  In that way it’s a lot like Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.  Anyway, if the Riders can manage to beat the Als, they’ll have a very good shot at staying in the West for the playoffs rather than having to crossover and try to make it to the Grey Cup through the East Division.  Edmonton, BC and Winnipeg all lost this week; the Riders need to take advantage.

Photo: Liam Richards, The Canadian Press

Darian Durant looked in control on Friday night.

Even when the Riders weren’t scoring touchdowns and settling for field goals, the Riders were successfully moving the ball and keeping their defence off the field.

In the first half, it looked like it was going to be a long day for the defence.  The Stampeders’ receivers were catching everything, Calgary QB Drew Tate was pretty much untouched and even though they weren’t running the ball well, they were often in second and short situations.

Then came the third quarter.

I don’t know what happened, but everything changed in the third quarter.  The Riders’ offence dominated, Calgary took a couple of stupid penalties, and the wheels fell off for the Stamps.  Time of possession in the second half: Saskatchewan 21:57, Calgary 8:03.

I’m still somewhat confused as to why the Stamps didn’t run Jon Cornish more.  He ran for 170+ yards the previous week; why go away from what’s working?

But that’s not our problem, is it?

Nope.  Right now, things seem to be firing on all cylinders for the Riders.  They’re 2-0, leading the CFL and already have two wins against Western Division opponents in the bag.

It’s a nice position to be in.

Now for Things That Worked and Things That Didn’t…

Things That Worked

  1. The running game – 133 yards for Korey Sheets this week.  Another personal best.  Add in a ridiculous effort to get the go-ahead TD in the third quarter, and it was another monster effort by the Riders’ number one running back.
  2. The passing game – Darian Durant continues to impress.  26/34 for 258 yards and 2 TD and 0 INTERCEPTIONS.  He looks great right now.
  3. NO TURNOVERS.  This is a recording…
  4. Offensive play calling – It’s so imaginative.  The great sets to help rookie OT Ben Heenan, the play action, the roll outs – it’s like we have an offensive coordinator who actually knows what he’s doing.  All hail George Cortez!
  5. Return game – Jock Sanders looked a lot more comfortable this week.  He’s going to break out and scored a TD pretty soon, I imagine.
  6. Ricky Schmitt – He punted the crap out of the football.  When he pinned the Stamps deep in the second quarter by putting some backspin on the football, I just about cried.  It truly was that amazing.
  7. Field goals – Chris Milo was 4/4.  Good job.

Things That Didn’t Work

  1. Defensive line pressure – Still need to get more pressure from our front four, but given how good Calgary’s offensive line is, it was decent.
  2. Penalties on returns – I am so sick and tired of hearing, “Illegal block/holding, Saskatchewan number ____” on returns.  Fix it.

Mis-play of the Game:

Apparently Rod Black and Glen Suitor don’t listen to the half-time show that carefully.  It was Chris Getzlaf they were talking about going against Jonathan Hefney.  Not Weston Dressler.


#7 – Weston Dressler, Slotback

From the beginning of the game, WD7 was the featured receiver.  He had a great catch-and-run TD to open up the scoring for the Riders, and he had the Stamps


#3 – Macho Harris, Defensive Back

He had a ridiculous interception taken away from him last week when Coach Chamblin couldn’t seem to get his challenge flag out of his back pocket, so the gift interception from Kevin Glenn at the end of the game was justice.  He had a great game, and made a couple of great knock downs on some long balls that helped keep the Stamps from trying to make a game of things in the second half.  Great effort.


#2 – Jock Sanders, Returner/Running Back

Excellent effort all game.  A couple of times he looked like he was going to be down, but then he’d make something out of nothing.  Could be a special returner for the Riders.  Corey Holmes 2.0?

NEXT WEEK: @ TORONTO: It’s a short week for the Riders and a long flight.  I’m not sure what to think of Toronto quite yet.  Their defence doesn’t seem as dominating as it was last year, and their offence has been inconsistent.  Should be a good matchup, and for some reason I expect the Riders to beat the defending Grey Cup champs.

Photo: The Canadian Press

I will be completely honest: I bet on the Eskimos this past weekend.  I was pretty sure they were going to beat the Riders, since the Riders pretty much suck when they play at Commonwealth Stadium.  How badly do they suck at Commonwealth:

Those statistics are gross.

So here’s another for you: the Riders hadn’t won a game on the road against a Western Division opponent since 2010.


But you can see that the deck against the Riders was a little bit stacked.  No wonder I didn’t have any faith…

But then the game started and the Riders kept putting up points, and Edmonton kept finding new ways to screw up.  The final score was rather flattering for the Eskimos, as two late touchdowns made things look a lot better than they did.

All in all, it was a solid start for the Riders.  The offense was clicking, for the most part, and the defence didn’t look too bad.

Now for Things That Worked and Things That Didn’t…

Things That Worked

  1. Strong start – The Riders scored on their first two possessions to go up early and never looked back.
  2. Korey Sheets – He looks to be building on a great rookie season.  Over 100 yards in the first game of the year against a very good Edmonton front seven.
  3. Darian Durant – Looked a lot more at home in this offence than he has for some time.  And three TDs ain’t too shabby.

Things That Didn’t Work

  1. Second quarter offence – There was a bit of a lull, but
  2. Return teams – Not a terribly impressive opening.  Jock Sanders looks tentative.
  3. Challenges – Coach, you’ve gotta challenge those close calls!  The Riders hadn’t yet used a challenge in the game, so there was nothing to lose.

Mis-plays of the Game:

  1. Mike Reilly, never throw the ball when you’re inside your own 10.  Even if you’re inept coaches tell you to.
  2. Dwight Anderson – You’re on your last strike with a number of Rider fans, including this one.


#1 – Korey Sheets, Running Back

Monster game and a personal best.  17 carries for 131 yards and one TD.  Excellent start to the season.


 #74 – Keith Shologan, Defensive Tackle

He really benefitted from the double teams that Edmonton threw on his cohort, defensive end John Chick.  Sholo had three tackles and, more importantly, two sacks.  But he was causing trouble for Edmonton QB Mike Reilly all game.


#17 – Ricky Schmitt

A 48.6 yard punt average makes Coach Chamblin’s decision to go with an import punter look a lot better.

NEXT WEEK: vs. CALGARY:  This is a true test for the Riders.  The Stamps have a much, much better offence, and their defensive line is just as good as Edmonton’s, if not better.  I pick the Stamps because they just seem to win regular season games at Mosaic Field and they looked dominant against BC last week, but you never know.


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