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CFL Touchdown Atlantic 2023: Toronto Argonauts (5-0) Vs. Saskatchewan Roughriders (3-3) Depth Charts/Preview/Prediction

The undefeated defending Grey Cup Champion Toronto Argonauts return to the Maritimes for another Touchdown Atlantic showdown with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Unlike a year ago before TA, when the Argos were 1-2, still trying to find themselves. The well-established Boatmen are trying to do something that an Argonauts club hasn’t done in 88 years (1935), start a season at 6-0.

CFL Week 8 Touchdown Atlantic 2023 Preview: Toronto Argonauts (5-0) vs. Saskatchewan Roughriders (3-3), Saturday, July 29, 4 pm ET (5 pm Halifax time), St. Mary’s Stadium in Halifax, Nova Scotia, TSN, CFL+ (U.S./International)/TSN1050 Toronto

Point Spread: The Toronto Argonauts are 10.5-point favorites. Over/Under: 47.5

Projected Weather Forecast: Partly cloudy skies will give way to occasional showers in the afternoon. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph. 35°C

Toronto Argonauts-Saskatchewan Roughriders Week 8 Injury Report

Several projected starting Argonauts who began the 2023 season on the six-game injured list (Henoc Muamba, Dariusz Bladek, Maurice Carnell, Markeith Ambles, Tommy Nield) were theoretically eligible to potentially return this weekend but will miss at least another game.

Of the recent regulars,  Special teams star RB Daniel Adeboboye (hamstring) will sit out Touchdown Atlantic.

WR Damonte Coxie (ankle), who was limited this week in practice, is listed in the starting lineup as a game-time decision. SB Cam Phillips will be active despite having shoulder issues.

Returning to the Boatmen’s lineup on defence Saturday is linebacker Jordan Williams who hasn’t played since Week 4.

On the opposite side, the Roughriders are getting some key reinforcements back in wide receivers Jake Wieneke (knee) and Brayden Lenius (lower back). However, Kian Schaefer-Baker (hip) is not ready to return yet.

 Despite being limited during practices, Star DT Micah Johnson is good to go for Saskatchewan. Standout OT Colin Kelly will be in the Riders lineup as well despite nursing a foot injury.

Toronto Argonauts Week 8 Depth Chart

Saskatchewan Roughriders Week 8 Depth Chart

Keys To A Saskatchewan Victory

A week ago, the Riders utilized an ultra-conservative approach in their passing game. The combination of Quarterback Mason Fine’s inexperience, a depleted receiving corps, and the B.C. Lions aggressive defence certainly factored into that game plan.

Fine completed 31 passes at nearly an 80 percent completion percentage against the Leos. However, Saskatchewan produced only three field goals. The dinking and dunking helped keep B.C.’s lethal pass rush at bay for the most part. But it hindered the Riders’ ability to score.

The Argos’ last two opponents, Montreal and Hamilton, both employed a high percentage short passing attack to varying degrees of success. The Roughriders can pick up some things on film that worked for the Alouettes and Ti-Cats in the screen game. But Saskatchewan would be best served finding a way to stretch the field and make explosive plays.

Offensive Coordinator Kelly Jeffrey also needs to rediscover the Riders’ rushing attack. Jamal Morrow got off to a very good start in the first three games of the season, including a 133-yard rushing effort against Calgary. But last week, the Riders ran for a paltry 16 yards on 14 carries.

Running against the Argonauts defence is no simple task. However, in order to keep Corey Mace’s aggressive attack honest and to make the short passing game work. Saskatchewan needs to show patience and work hard to get their talented backfield back on track in the run-and-pass game.

Defensively, the Roughriders are coming off their best game of the season, holding the Lions to only 19 points on the road. Saskatchewan sacked B.C. five times.

The Riders need to pressure Chad Kellly and force him to play hero ball. The emerging superstar quarterback has a tendency to attempt a few high-risk passes per game. Sask’s defence needs to capitalize on those opportunities and create turnovers in those scenarios.

The one area where Toronto has had hiccups from time to time this season is their special teams. An area that has been a long-standing strength of a Craig Dickenson-led squad. For Saskatchewan to pull the upset, they will need big plays from Mario Alford and their entire unit.

Keys To A Toronto Victory

Mickey Donovan’s special teams unit has their work cut out for them against electrifying returner Mario Alford and a consistently strong specials unit for Saskatchewan.

One of the reasons that Hamilton wasn’t blown out by the Boatmen and stayed within striking distance last week was because their special teams outfoxed Toronto’s. Returner Tyreik Williams averaged over 38 yards per kick return against the Argonauts.

With all due respect to Williams, All-Star Mario Alford is a much more prominent threat than him. Toronto has to keep him from changing field position and breaking the game open.

Offensively for Toronto, the Riders had success last week utilizing max coverage looks on obvious pass situations to flood zones with defenders. It’s a strategy that defensive coordinator Jason Shivers may employ against the Argos’ passing attack. Trusting that his talented defensive front can get home on their own.

Toronto needs to force the Roughriders out of their comfort zone by consistently running the football against them on first down. And then using run looks and bootlegs to set up big plays down the field. Getting Sask to commit defenders in the box will open up lanes in the passing game.

Defensively, the Argonauts need to tackle well in space versus Saskatchewan. The Riders don’t have traditional deep threats. But their returning top receivers are good after the catch. Toronto has missed some open-field tackles in recent outings. Tackling underneath and limiting yardage after the catch will force Mason Fine to take chances into coverage.

If the Argos want to remain undefeated. They need to continue playing error-free football. Toronto is plus 13 in the turnover margin, tops in the CFL.

CFL Touchdown Atlantic Prediction

Toronto is a heavy favorite in this game, but stylistically, this should be their stiffest challenge of the season. Despite the talent discrepancy, particularly at quarterback, the Riders match up well with the Boatmen.

I expect a close game that is low scoring.

Saskatchewan has the defence and special teams to hang with Toronto. And they will be stronger on offence with the return of some pivotal pass catchers.

There’s also a chance of rain in this contest, which is always a neutralizer in football.

At some point, the Argos are going to lose. This has a chance to be their first loss of the season. I like Toronto to ultimately find a way to win. But it won’t come easy.

Prediction: Toronto Argonauts 23 Saskatchewan Roughriders 22

author avatar
Mike Mitchell Reporter
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. David Tress

    July 29, 2023 at 1:06 pm

    The Commissioner puts the cart before the horse with Touchdown Atlantic. There needs to be built new stadiums before he can have expansion. It will still be fun to watch.

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