Toronto Argonauts face very difficult task in Calgary facing the Stampeders

By The Canadian Press
September 26, 2018 - 12:00pm

The Toronto Argonauts have found themselves in a most unenviable position.

The Argonauts (3-9) entered Week 16 of the CFL season third in the East Division, a whopping 10 points behind first-place Ottawa and trailing second-place Hamilton by six points.

Toronto is also three wins behind both the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (6-7) and B.C. Lions (6-6) in the cross-over scenario. And if that wasn't enough, the Argos have lost three straight as they head to Calgary to visit the Stampeders (10-2), who are not only coming off a bye week but are a stellar 6-0 both at home and versus East Division competition.

Calgary would become the first team to clinch a CFL playoff spot with a win or a tie. This despite being plagued by injuries to its receiving corps with Eric Rogers (knee), Kamar Jorden (knee) and DaVaris Daniels (collarbone) all out.

But that's allowed players like Reggie Begelton (25 catches, 488 yards, one TD) and Juwan Brescacin (21 catches, 365 yards, two TDs) to step in and contribute. However Rogers (21 catches, 320 yards, five TDs) has resumed practising and is expected to play versus Toronto.

A healthy Rogers would be a definite boost to an already potent Calgary offence that's leading the CFL in offensive points scored (29.0 per game) and is second overall in net yards (411.7). And he'd give quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, who's tied with Edmonton's Mike Reilly for the CFL's most TD passes (27) another big-play target.

That wouldn't bode well for an Argos defence that's ranked last in offensive points allowed (28.7 per game) and completion percentage (70.1) and second-last in passing yards (301.3 per game) and passing TDs (23).

Then there's the matter of McLeod Bethel-Thompson and Co. dealing with Calgary's defence. The unit leads the CFL in fewest offensive points allowed (17.3), offensive TDs (17), net offensive yards (299.8), rushing yards (77.9) and is second overall in fewest passing yards allowed (237.3).

Toronto counters with an offence that's allowed a CFL-high 30 sacks and averages a league-low 87.5 yards rushing per game. The Argos are also second-last in fewest offensive points scored (19.6 per game).

Bethel-Thompson has posted a solid 65.7 completion percentage in his six games as Toronto's starter. He has thrown for 1,637 yards with eight TDs and just four interceptions but has guided the Argos to just two victories over that span.

And Toronto is the only CFL team to be winless on the road (0-5) this season

Prediction: Calgary.


B.C. Lions at Hamilton Tiger-Cats (Saturday afternoon)

The Ticats (6-7) look for redemption after B.C. (6-6) rallied from an eight-point deficit with nine seconds remaining in regulation to win 35-32 in overtime last weekend in Vancouver. Hamilton expects to have seedy receiver Brandon Banks (69 catches, 1,033 yards, seven TDs) back after missing two games with a hamstring injury. B.C. is 4-2 versus the East Division this season but just 1-5 on the road.

Prediction: Hamilton.


Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Edmonton Eskimos (Saturday night)

The Eskimos could really help themselves with a home win. Not only would that move them four points ahead of Winnipeg (6-7) in the West standings but also clinch the season series. The Bombers halted a four-game losing streak last week with their win over Montreal and running back Andrew Harris, who was injured in that game, resumed practising, which is a huge positive.

Prediction: Edmonton.


Saskatchewan Roughriders at Montreal Alouettes (Sunday afternoon)

The Riders (8-5) chase a second straight road win following last week's 30-29 victory in Toronto. Quarterback Zach Collaros threw two TD passes — the first time this season Saskatchewan has had multiple touchdown tosses in a game — but still hasn't cracked the 300-yard passing plateau. Johnny Manziel makes a second straight start for Montreal (3-10) and is still searching for the first win and TD pass of his CFL tenure.

Prediction: Saskatchewan.


Last week: 3-1.

Overall: 36-21.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

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