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CFL: B.C. Lions @ Toronto Argonauts Week 18 Preview/Prediction

Week 18 of the CFL season sees two playoff-bound teams clash in Toronto on Saturday afternoon. As the 10-4 B.C. Lions take on the 8-6 Toronto Argonauts at BMO Field. A lot has changed since these two teams squared off fifteen weeks ago. Superstars Nathan Rourke and Andrew Harris were the focal points for each team before British Columbia laid waste to the Boatmen 44-3, back in week three of the CFL season.

CFL Week 18 Preview: B.C. Lions @ Toronto Argonauts

  • Location: BMO Field, Toronto, Ontario
  • Date: Saturday, October 8, 2022
  • Kickoff: 4 pm ET/1 pm PT
  • TV: TSN2/ESPN+
  • Betting Line: Argos favored by 1, Total Points: 48.5
  • Weather: Sunny, Winds W at 15 to 25 MPH.

BC has won four of its last five games against Toronto; however, the Argonauts won the previous meeting at BMO Field – 31-29 (OT) in 2021. A unique affair that saw the Leos miss three field goals in the last few minutes, leading to a Toronto victory in the extra session.

The Argos and Leos enter Week 18 of the 2022 CFL season looking to ward off teams that are on their heels in the playoff chase.

British Columbia (10-4) has a half-game lead over 10-5 Calgary in the West. However, both Western teams are still mathematically alive to win the division title. For what it’s worth, BC does play the Bombers twice in their last three games. However, wrestling away Winnipeg’s grip on the Western title would require divine intervention. Therefore, the more realistic goal for BC is securing a home game in the Semifinal round of the playoffs. The Stamps and Lions are vying for that privilege in the final quarter of the regular season.

Toronto’s hopes of winning the East for the second year in a row are in jeopardy. That’s because Montreal is only a game behind them at 7-7. And with an easier schedule and two upcoming games head to head with the Boatmen to end the season. The Alouettes control their destiny. If the Argos want to host the East final for the second year in a row. They will have to beat Montreal head-to-head to accomplish that goal.

The Argonauts’ 0-4 record against the top three West teams has helped fuel their naysayers’ fire this season. Not helping matters is how the Boatmen’s ship sunk in sobering fashion last weekend to the Stampeders.

The Argos are arguably coming off their worst performance of the 2022 season since that fateful night in Vancouver nearly four months ago, where the Leos humbled Toronto 44-3.

Back in week 3, you could see Toronto’s loss to B.C. coming from a mile away. The Argos were outclassed in every respect. The Argos seemed to have turned the corner from their early season humiliation in Vancouver. But adversity has hit the team hard recently. Can they rebound this weekend?

B.C. Lions Week 18 Depth Chart/Injury Report

The Lions’ depth will be tested again in Week 18. It’s been a recurring theme all season long for BC—losing front-line star players but surviving the losses thanks to having substantial depth.

Two of BC’s best players are out this weekend against Toronto. WR Lucky Whitehead and DE Obum Gwacham. The Lions have strength in numbers in their receiving corps and defensive line. But there’s no question that Whitehead is a difference maker who dictates defensive game planning. Alexander Hollins will try and fill Whitehead’s shoes this week at WR.

The good news for the Lions is that several key players who were limited during the practice week will be in their lineup. DT Josh Banks, DB T.J. Lee, and LB Bo Lokumbo.

Toronto Argonauts Week 18 Depth Chart/Injury Report

A lot of unique changes and shifts this week for Double Blue. Up to 8 different position starters from last week’s depth chart.

The Argos are missing their most valuable player in 2022, Weakside linebacker Wynton McManis. He is out for at least four weeks due to an MCL Sprain, and national LB Jonathan Jones comes up from the practice roster and will replace him in the lineup.

Toronto will also be without their leading pass rusher, Shane Ray, who is done with a torn bicep for the season. Taking Ray’s place will be DE Robbie Smith. Ali Fayad dresses for his first CFL game and will provide depth behind Smith.

The positive news for Double Blue is that potential All-Star CB Jamal Peters returns to the lineup after sitting out Week 17 due to a concussion. However, the Argos will be without DB’s Maurice Carnell IV (six-game injured list/knee) and potentially DaShaun Amos, who is a game-time decision.

Shaq Richardson, who subbed for Peters last week, will shift over to linebacker. Chris Edwards is headed outside to play CB, with Tarvarus McFadden backing him up. Robert Priester will re-enter the starting lineup at boundary halfback. If Amos can’t go, Tigie Sankoh is in line to play in his stead.

Offensively, Receivers DaVaris Daniels and Damonte Coxie are out. Jeremiah Haydel and Brandon Banks will start as outside receivers. RB Javon Leake is dressing for this game, and could split time with Haydel returning kicks.

CFL Week 18: Lions @ Argonauts Game Analysis/Keys

Although the primary focus this season has been on BC’s offence and their star-studded quarterback position. The Leos defence has been largely overlooked. They are third in the league in sacks with 37. BC is first in the league in the fewest pass yards allowed per game (247) and third in rush yards permitted per contest (91.1). The Lions are #1 in overall defence after 17 weeks.

The last time the Leos and Argos met, the focus was deservedly on Nathan Rourke’s record-breaking night and the team’s 44-point outburst. However, lost in the hysteria was the fact that BC held Toronto to 242 yards of offence and one field goal attempt. Toronto did mount an early drive deep toward the goal line that faltered. But it was all they could muster all evening. The Argos’ failings weren’t just a Rourke thing.

Ryan Dinwiddie is coming off a rough week against Calgary’s DC Brent Monson. The Argos play-caller saw his offence smothered and held scoreless. Dinwiddie’s next chess match is against Lions DC Ryan Phillips. One of the league’s unheralded defensive coaches is familiar with Ryan Dinwiddie’s scheme, having been a part of Calgary’s staff in 2018 and coaching against the Stamps since joining BC in 2019. So it’s likely that Phillips not only goes to school on what he has done in the past against Calgary-inspired offenses but also what Calgary’s defence did last week against Toronto.

Expect the Leos to ignore Toronto’s rushing attack, as they will confuse and pressure the Argos’ pass game.

Toronto has given up the third most sacks in the CFL (38). Back in week 3, McLeod Bethel-Thompson was sacked four times. BC’s defensive unit has three players, David Menard, Sione Teuhema, and Mathieu Betts, who have seven sacks each on their defensive front, and all three could give Toronto’s front problems. The Argos’ have stubbornly stuck with Philip Blake at left tackle and paid the price when facing stiff competition.

The Argos receivers have struggled to create separation and consistently make big plays down the field. Until Toronto figures out a way to crack the code designed against them, they will see more of what Calgary did last week moving forward.

BC’s offence did an amazing job in their last meeting against Toronto’s defence, creating confusion in the passing game by flooding zones with multiple receivers. And with the Argos having so many changes in their secondary. There will be vulnerabilities for the Lions to exploit.

The loss of Wynton McManis could be problematic against BC’s two-headed rushing attack with James Butler and QB Vernon Adams. Toronto has struggled against mobile passers this season. Adams is still getting acclimated to his new surroundings and is down a couple of weapons in the passing game. But he has played error-free with his new team.

The Argos defence, led by Corey Mace, has quietly led the league in the fewest majors allowed. But it hasn’t been because of their pass rush, which ranks as the worst in the league with only 27 sacks registered. Toronto’s defensive success has resulted from rock-solid coverage from its linebackers and defensive backs. The bend but don’t break style has worked because of the elite personnel in the back end. But with McManis out, there could be a weakness ready for BC to exploit on Saturday.

Vernon Adams is at his worst when pressured. If he’s given time to find his weapons like Dominique Rhymes and Keon Hatcher down the field. He should be able to make plays. Opposing teams have been successful in the past against him when they have forced Adams to stay patient and make quick decisions. Thus far, VA has played mistake-free with the Lions. In 3 starts and four appearances for BC, Adams is yet to throw an interception (81 attempts). The Argos need to break that trend.

CFL Week 18: Lions @ Argonauts Prediction

You’d like to think that playing at home for the first time since late August will give the Boatmen a boost. And typically, teams traveling from the West have a hard time. But the Argos are not at full strength coming into this game. And they don’t match up well stylistically with the Lions. A team that is 5-1 on the road this season.

Toronto might be fortunate not having to face Lucky Whitehead and Nathan Rourke this go-around. However, the Lions have shown the ability to win games without their premier players.

The Leos have a much more balanced offense than Toronto. And their defence is as good if not better than the Argos group. especially now with Toronto’s latest personnel losses. Vernon Adams should be able to help his former team Montreal by doing just enough to beat his old nemesis.

B.C. Lions 31 Toronto Argonauts 18

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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