Although we took a brief Pick-Em hiatus, we wanted to ensure that we got back in the saddle this week. Although it was a 3-1 Week in our CKRM Pick-Em pool hosted by RodPedersen.com, we didn't post them to this site, so we'll call them "unofficial".
With the Saskatchewan Roughriders being all the rave right now, here's some analysis on why one should feel good about going into kick-off against the struggling Argos in Toronto.
As always, our pick-em is brought to you by our good friends at CJ Evans Home Designs!
Let's take a look at today's Saskatchewan Game...
Saskatchewan @ Toronto
Earlier on in the 2016 season (WK 3) when we took a look at this game, there were a couple of deciding factors that eventually led me to take the Argos. The first reason, was the ability of the Double Blue Offensive Line vs the Roughriders Defensive Line, that featured a lot of inexperience, and hadn’t established an identity for themselves as of that point.
The other reason for the Argos prediction back then (which we got right) was that although the individual players in Green and White may be more talented, the Argos were a better TEAM. Things like communication, and CFL I.Q. were going to be a factor, and unfortunately there was nothing that the Riders could do about that in the early stages of the year. The Argos fundamentally caught them in “Trial by Fire” mode; here’s an excerpt from the Week 3 Pick EM article that we posted,
“Hopefully I’m wrong here because I think that if this was any other week the Riders win this handily. There’s too much that could potentially affect this game from the Green and White’s side right now that doesn’t have to do with overall talent.”
Fast forward to today, and what we have now is a Saskatchewan side that is vastly improved in all phases of their football team, and has started to execute at a much higher rate. Essentially what is beginning to take place is that the talented players are starting to become a talented TEAM. That does not bode well for their opponent.
For may of the Rider Die-Hards this Week 17 matchup may be the best indicator of how far this team has come (albeit slowly). At the early phases of the season the veteran laden Argos were looked at as a Grey Cup Darkhorse and much was being made of the “re-build” in the Prairie Province.
Since their first meeting the Argos have fallen hard, and Saskatchewan has done nothing but trend upward. It’s taken a long time, and unfortunately the play-offs are out of the question but the plan that was questioned so many times during the year looks like it’s finally starting to bear fruit.
Take the Roughriders today. Depending on how well the team was able to handle the week of prep in Ontario prior to this game, the potential to jump out to an early lead may be present for the first time all year.
With the way the Defensive Line is playing now, versus the beginning of the year, one may venture to tilt the scales in the Green and White’s favour. Last week the Calgary Stampeders physically pounded the Argo Olinemen at the Line of Scrimmage in a one-sided affair. Not only are the Roughriders starting to play more physically, but some of the schemes that they’ve been running require a team to prepare a lot more than they’re normally used to. With more schematic confidence, one is starting to see the benefits of playing without “over-thinking” every rep. The athleticism of guys upfront is starting to show.
Maybe the biggest positive here is that the communication amongst the entire Defensive unit (especially the back-end) has been far better as of late. There’s still plenty of room to improve, but the progress is worth noting. It’s clearly the biggest difference from Week 3 to Week 17, and should be something to get excited about. What will definitely help is the fact that the Rider secondary gets to take their shot at a receiving core, and a QB, that are only playing together for the 2nd straight week. That is a huge advantage, and a total flip of the “youth vs. experience” model that Saskatchewan found themselves up against for the majority of the year.
The tables have turned a little bit when we look at these two teams. Although it was expected, the Roughriders ability to focus on the task at hand is still something that needs to be consistent. Although everyone seems to be expecting an Argos loss, this is still a team that is in the middle of a playoff race, despite going through a tough time internally.
It’s all about the 1st quarter today. The Toronto Argonauts need to start fast and play with a major sense of urgency, and the Roughriders need to be ready for their best shot early on.
If Saskatchewan can withstand the first wave of the Argo assault, and maybe some trickery, this talented TEAM should come away with their 4th W in as many games.
Pick: The Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Other picks this week: Ottawa, BC, and CGY (can't believe BC sh*t the bed!!!)