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Slumping Roughriders look to regain early kind, salvage season

Within the midst of a difficult yr for every kind of causes, there may very well be gentle on the finish of the tunnel for what many really feel is the CFL’s flagship franchise. 

The Saskatchewan Roughriders have performed under expectations and lacked self-discipline this yr, taking an unimpressive 6-7 document into Friday’s residence recreation towards the Edmonton Elks. 

However whereas this actually wasn’t the drawn-up plan for a yr wherein they host the Gray Cup, the Roughriders’ state of affairs is basically not all that dangerous if they will discover the shape they displayed in beginning the season 4-1. 

A win towards the lowly Elks on Friday will eradicate Edmonton from playoff rivalry and put Saskatchewan in agency management to nail down the league’s last post-season spot – almost definitely a crossover berth for ending forward of the third-place crew within the East. 

That will ship the Roughriders to the East playoffs – almost definitely with sudden demise video games in Montreal and Toronto. 

Whereas no crossover crew (all from the West) has ever superior to the Gray Cup in 12 tries since 1997, the East groups have been considerably weaker than the West all season. Saskatchewan’s possibilities to play within the Gray Cup by itself area certainly are higher going out East than if it needed to survive video games in Winnipeg, Calgary or B.C. 

“It’s nonetheless been enjoyable. The blokes within the locker room nonetheless take pleasure in coming to work. We’ve acquired good camaraderie,” Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson advised reporters this week. “We’ve acquired a ping-pong desk in there, you possibly can’t them to go away after follow. They need to hang around and be collectively. Though it hasn’t gone our approach in a variety of methods this season, it’s nonetheless been an satisfying yr and nonetheless been enjoyable working with them. They arrive to work every single day and work onerous. That’s all you possibly can ask so I’m very pleased with them.”  

The newest little bit of adversity got here final week when a nasty abdomen bug rolled via the Roughriders locker room previous to the Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg. 

Dickenson stated 15 gamers acquired sick, together with seven or eight coaches – together with himself. A number of gamers not anticipated to decorate drove in with crew president Craig Reynolds from Regina. The offensive line was a multitude, with a number of of the large males hooked as much as IVs previous to the sport. 

Not surprisingly, the Blue Bombers thumped the Roughriders 54-20, sweeping the annual Labour Day home-and-home collection.  

“The message I had for the crew right this moment truthfully was that was as proud as I’ve been of a crew in a very long time. They gutted it out,” Dickenson stated after the sport in Winnipeg. “Win lose or draw, not certainly one of them stopped taking part in onerous, not certainly one of them complained. They have been getting hooked as much as IVs and dropping like flies however they only saved displaying up. I used to be tremendous pleased with them.” 

Already this yr, the Roughriders handled a CFL document four-game suspension to defensive lineman Garrett Marino for a grimy hit and terrible phrases to Ottawa Redblacks quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. Marino delivered one other dangerous hit to Winnipeg quarterback Zach Collaros upon his return, leading to his launch. 

Marino hasn’t been the one participant to misbehave. Star receiver Duke Williams drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to the Labour Day recreation for his actions on the sidelines when he wasn’t even dressed for the sport. 

Well being, too, has been a difficulty for a lot of the season. Williams is out with an ankle harm and quarterback Cody Fajardo has been sporting a brace on his left knee many of the yr. Fajardo, who was benched in a single recreation earlier this season however appears to have improved the previous few weeks, is hopeful he can ditch it after subsequent week’s bye week. 

“It’s getting right down to the nitty-gritty,” Fajardo stated. “We’re going to need to win some soccer video games right here to place ourselves in place simply to punch our ticket to the playoffs. No matter that state of affairs could also be within the West or within the East, we simply need to give ourselves an opportunity as a result of we all know we’ve acquired a very good locker room and a very good crew. All we’ve acquired to do is give ourselves an opportunity and it’s three video games after that.” 

There was excellent news this week as Fajardo rushed out of shape upon getting information that his spouse, Laura, was near delivering the couple’s first little one. Son Luca was born early Wednesday morning. 

“Laura was a whole rock star via all of it,” Fajardo stated. “She’s robust as nails. Lot of inspiration, lot of drive for me simply watching her undergo that and being part of that.” 

What we appreciated in Week 14 

• The play of Collaros (we’ve stated that a couple of instances this yr). He’s on his option to profitable the CFL’s most excellent participant award for the second yr in a row. 

• Argos receiver Kurleigh Gittens Jr.’s homecoming. The Ottawa native had eight catches for 161 yards and one landing in a 24-19 win over the Redblacks. 

What we didn’t like in Week 14 

• The Elks’ play at residence. They’ve tied the 1988 Ottawa Tough Riders for the longest residence dropping streak in CFL historical past after they dropped their 14th in a row at Commonwealth Stadium – 56-28 towards Calgary. 

• The Redblacks’ play at residence, which truly is perhaps worse than Edmonton’s. The Redblacks have misplaced 20 of their previous 21 at TD Place following their setback towards the Argos. A lot for the momentum of a two-game win streak on the street. 

Week 15 picks 

Edmonton Elks at Saskatchewan Roughriders (-7), Friday, 9:30 p.m. ET / 6:30 p.m. PT 

The Roughriders have misplaced 4 in a row at residence. That development has to cease in the event that they need to be thought of an actual playoff contender. PICK: Saskatchewan 

Winnipeg Blue Bombers (-7.5) at Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Saturday, 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT 

Ticats quarterback Dane Evans (shoulder) returns after lacking the previous two video games. Winnipeg beat the Ticats in additional time in final yr’s Gray Cup in Hamilton. Since then, it’s been all downhill for the Tiger-Cats. PICK: Winnipeg 

B.C. Lions at Calgary Stampeders (-6), Saturday, 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT 

Vernon Adams Jr. makes his first begin for the Lions, B.C.’s fourth beginning quarterback in as many weeks with star Nathan Rourke harm. It is a battle for second within the West. PICK: Calgary 

2022 document: 30-25 

(Odds from FanDuel as of Thursday evening) 

Energy rankings 

1. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (11-1, Final week: 1): Destined for home-field benefit within the West playoffs as they eye a three-peat. 

2. Calgary Stampeders (8-4, Final week: 2): Within the driver’s seat to get second within the West with the Lions slipping due to quarterback points. 

3. Toronto Argonauts (7-5, Final week: 4): Toronto is in good place to complete first within the East for the second yr in a row. 

4. B.C. Lions (8-3, Final week: 3): The Lions really want Adams Jr. to play nicely after Antonio Pipkin couldn’t get it completed final week in Montreal. 

5. Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-7, Final week: 5): A win towards Edmonton would assist get the Roughriders again on observe after a tricky stretch. 

6. Montreal Alouettes (5-7, Final week: 7): Large win over the Lions at residence has the Alouettes feeling good in a bye week. Nonetheless could make a run for first within the East. 

7. Ottawa Redblacks (3-9, Final week: 6): Comeback bid fell quick towards the Argos – a giant blow to Ottawa’s playoff hopes. 

8. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (3-9, Final week: 8): The league’s most disappointing crew this season wants to tug off an upset towards Winnipeg to get again within the playoff race. 

9. Edmonton Elks (3-10, Final week: 9): The Elks are in an enormous rebuilding venture. We’ll see if a yr of getting a revolving-door roster pays off subsequent season for GM/coach Chris Jones. 

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