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CFL 2023: Toronto Argonauts (15-2) @ Ottawa REDBLACKS (4-13) Regular Season Finale Preview/Prediction

In the final weekend of the 2023 Regular Season. The Toronto Argonauts can make CFL history by matching the greatest single-season record, a 16-2 mark set by Edmonton in 1989. A great Eskimos team that infamously faltered in the playoffs, a fate that the 2023 Argos would love to avoid, even if they do or don’t enter rarefied air in the history books.

CFL 2023: Toronto Argonauts (15-2) @ Ottawa REDBLACKS (4-13) Regular Season Finale Overview

For the fourth consecutive season, the CFL’s losingest team since 2019 (14-53), Ottawa, is finishing out a season shredded in disappointment, clouded by uncertainty, and aimlessly searching for relevance.

The REDBLACKS have a chance on Saturday to spoil their Ontario brother’s hopes of making history. And it wasn’t for that scenario created as a result of Toronto’s success. Ottawa would be closing up shop again, playing for nothing.

Bob Dyce’s squad would also like to avoid going winless for the season against the East. They are 0-8 in that department; surprisingly enough, Ottawa finished 4-4 against the West. For whatever that’s worth.

The defending CFL champion Argos have already matched their best regular season record in the club’s 150-year history by winning 15 games. Something that Toronto did in successive seasons nearly three decades ago,1996 & 1997. Those two 15-3 Boatmen teams went on to hoist the Grey Cup.

The 2023 version of Double Blue was facing a dilemma approaching this weekend.

Attempt to go all out to stand alone forever in Argos’ lore. Or prioritize the potential prize of getting back to the Grey Cup when the team hosts the East Final for the third year in a row on November 11.

Based on who the Boatmen are not playing in the finale, the latter is their choice.

CFL 2023: Toronto Argonauts (15-2) @ Ottawa REDBLACKS (4-13) Regular Season Finale Preview/Injury Report/Depth Charts

Toronto Argonauts Week 21 Injury Report/Depth Chart

The Toronto Argonauts officially ruled out 11 players in their final injury/practice report of the week. Several starters are sitting out Saturday’s game, some as healthy scratches or others who have nicks and bruises, with the team opting for them to take the week off.

For the starters who are playing, a quick hook could be in order as the game progresses.

The big lineup story is Chad Kelly, who injured his ankle in last week’s game against Saskatchewan. He practiced in full this week and will be dressed but only as an emergency quarterback. Cameron Dukes gets the start with backup Bryan Scott expected to see some action.

On offence, the team will also be missing standouts WR DaVaris Daniels and RB AJ Ouellette.

WR Cam Phillips returns to the lineup after spending several weeks being inactive. He is joined in the starting lineup by recent pickups Richie Sindani and Carlton Agudosi. Two players who could be in line for a role in the East Final if Kurleigh Gittens Jr. doesn’t return from the six-game injured list.

Defensively, Toronto will be very thin in the secondary without potential rookie of the year Qwantez Stiggers and Tarvarus McFadden. The Argos do, however, have many starters in their defensive front seven. How long those players stay in the game Saturday remains to be seen.

On special teams, Boris Bede is back kicking field goals for the Boatmen after sitting out last week’s game as a healthy inactive.

Ottawa REDBLACKS Week 21 Injury Report/Depth Chart

Not much to report on the Ottawa side. QB Dustin Crum, who injured his calf two weeks ago against Toronto, is good to go coming off the bye week. The REDBLACKS will, however, be without star defensive back Brandin Dandridge (hand).

Toronto Argonauts @ Ottawa Redblacks Game Matchup/Prediction

In the final weeks of the CFL 2023 Regular Season. It’s been challenging to break down Argos’ games against their opponents because of the preseason-like nature to them.

Saturday’s regular-season finale is the most daunting because both teams are in evaluation mode for different reasons.

In their two previous meetings this season, Toronto outscored Ottawa 84-58. Despite that, the REDBLACKS were fairly competitive in both contests, at least in the early going, carrying leads. But on both occasions, Toronto turned things on eventually and cruised to victory.

The overall talent of the Argonauts from top to bottom was too much for Ottawa to overcome. That’s been the story for many of Toronto’s opponents this year. The Argos’ talent and coaching level have been especially evident in games that Toronto has had nothing of consequence to play for. Even in their lone loss during this nothing-to-play-for stretch, The team had no business being competitive with the Bombers in Winnipeg for four quarters but were.

Therefore, there are many who believe that Toronto can still win on Saturday night, even with them in full-on exhibition mode, leaning on reserves to guide them to a historic 16th victory.

If this game was at home at BMO Field, Toronto might have taken a different approach in front of their crowd, with history potentially beckoning the Boatmen. In that circumstance, the Argonauts would’ve been an easy pick. But I am going the other way on this one.

Ottawa ends its typical negative season on a somewhat positive note. That 1989 Edmonton team stands alone in the record books.

Ottawa REDBLACKS 26 Toronto Argonauts 18

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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