The final quarter of the CFL regular season has arrived. Several teams are vying for playoff positioning. Two of them meet at BMO Field on Saturday afternoon when the 6-4 Toronto Argonauts host the 4-6 BC Lions.
BC Lions @ Toronto Argonauts Preview
Both the Argos and Leos are coming off of the worst losses of their season. In Week 12, BC was dominated by the reigning and defending CFL champion Blue Bombers 45-0. Toronto was mauled in Montreal by the Alouettes 37-16.
And yet, BC and Toronto both control their playoff destiny after disheartening losses.
Toronto’s path to the playoffs is more straightforward. A win against the Lions at home secures them a playoff berth and keeps their hopes of winning the East alive.
Despite being losers of four straight, BC is only a game behind in the Western standings for a potential final playoff spot. BC’s margin for error is smaller, but they also have another way into the playoffs. A victory over Toronto will put them at 5-6, sinking the Boatmen to 6-5, thereby placing the Lions directly in line for a potential crossover playoff berth with three weeks left.
The Argos will be looking to stay undefeated at home. (4-0). BetRegal.net has the Boatmen as three-point favorites. The over/under point total is 47. The Lions have had much more success on the road (3-2) than at home (1-4). BC has also fared better outside their division (1-6). Against the East this season, the Lions are 3-0, beating Montreal and Ottawa twice.
The last time BC played Toronto in the six was back on July 6th, 2019. The Lions outlasted the Argos 18-17; in one of the more bizarre finishes you will ever see, tied at 17, then BC kicker Sergio Castillo lined up for a 42-yard field goal with no time on the clock and pulled the kick wide left. Chris Rainey fielded the miss in the end zone; however, his foot was on the end line, and as a result, the Lions scored a rouge and the win.
The Leos might not need the same lady luck this this time since they are poised to get their most dynamic player, Lucky Whitehead, back from injury.
Toronto Argonauts Week 13 Depth Chart
The Argos have 19 players on their injured list. Therefore, some new faces are being inserted into the team’s Week 13 lineup.
The major story on Toronto’s side of the coin is the right side of their offensive line. A week ago, the Boatmen played without two of their best linemen in Dariusz Bladek and Jamal Campbell. Bladek is back at right guard.
Trevon Tate will get the start again at RT. Shane Richards is dressing for this game after being limited in practice all week. He will provide depth along with Theren Churchill.
DJ Foster is listed as Toronto’s starter at RB but this is truly a 1, and 1A situation, where both he and White will factor into the game plan. WR Dres Anderson is up from the practice squad and will be active and starting this Saturday in place of Damion Jeanpiere, who has been moved to the practice roster.
In the trenches on defence. The Argos are missing Kony Ealy, Fabian Foote, Shane Ray, Eli Mencer, among others. Toronto’s depth upfront has been tested all season long. With that in mind, Junior Turner, who the Argos recently signed, will be starting at DT next to Shawn Oakman. Veterans Cordarro Law and Charleston Hughes are starting on the edge at the DE spot.
Linebacker Cameron Judge, despite practicing in a limited fashion this week, is tentatively ready to return from an ankle injury to the Boatmen’s defensive lineup. He is listed as a third-string backup on the outside, so it remains to be seen how much he will play in this game. But for now, he is available.
Very quietly, CB Jalen Collins had a great debut last week in the CFL, in his first start, helping shut down Jake Wieneke to zero catches a week ago. Collins will be challenged greatly in this one by BC’s electric duo of Whitehead and Burnham. Matthew Boateng is active and will provide depth in the secondary.
International player DB Tigie Sankoh and the recently acquired DL Benoit Martin are both on the main roster for Saturday’s game.
BC Lions Week 13 Depth Chart
BC gets back superstar Lucky Whitehead, right in time for a late season playoff push. Whitehead’s return will help free up Bryan Burnham and others. The returning Dominique Rhymes and Shaq Johnson could be called upon in larger complimentary roles with Lemar Durant and Keon Hatcher out for Saturday’s game.
WR Devier Posey is still on BC’s injured list, so he won’t play against his former team, the Argos at BMO. The team, Posey helped win the 105th Grey Cup as MVP back in 2017. Kevin Thomson is backing up Michael Reilly on the pivot with Nathan Rourke out.
On defence, the Lions are relatively healthy. But talented CFL rookie halfback KiAnte Hardin is out for this game.
BC Lions @ Toronto Argonauts Matchups
Toronto Argonauts Offence Versus BC Lions Defence
- The Argonauts are fifth in the league in scoring at 18.8 points per game. Second in passing (279.7 yards per game) and Seventh in rushing (78.6 yards per game).
- The Lions pass defence is last in the CFL, allowing 289 yards per game. BC also has the fewest sacks in the CFL with only 16 in ten games. The Leos rush defence has fared slightly better, they are sixth in the league in that category allowing 102 rush yards per game (4.8 yards per carry).
A big key in this game will be Toronto’s offensive line versus BC’s pass rush. The Argos struggled mightily upfront against Montreal last week without one of their best players in RT, Jamal Campbell. The Boatmen will be getting Dariusz Bladek back in the trenches at right guard. But they will need better play up front. McLeod Bethel-Thompson is coming off of his worst game of the season (4 interceptions), and a large part of that had to do with the consistent pass rush he faced a week ago.
The Lions are last in the CFL with only 16 sacks. However, Obum Gwacham and Tim Bonner, have accounted for half of the team’s sacks. They could give the Argos trouble upfront, especially if they work in tandem on stunts or are moved around the formation to exploit Toronto’s weak links on their offensive line.
If Bethel-Thompson has time to throw, look for him to attack the Lions’ secondary down the field. BC’s defence has struggled against receivers who can win contested throws. See Kenny Lawler last week. DeVaris Daniels, who has been relatively quiet recently, could be in line for a big game.
The Argos could continue to look towards the emerging Kurleigh Gittens. He has emerged in recent weeks as a featured player in Toronto’s passing game. Gittens has surpassed the 100+ yards mark in each of his past two games: 105 yards vs. Hamilton and 116 yards last week vs. Montreal. The last Canadian receiver to have 100+ receiving yards in consecutive games was Andy Fantuz in 2016; the last to manage the feat in three straight games was Ben Cahoon in 2004.
BC’s defence will be seeing an old friend on Saturday in former Lions runner John White. In the Leos two meetings with the Boatmen back in 2019, White rushed for over 250 yards. Still recovering from injury, White hasn’t had the same impact for Toronto that he had earlier in the season. But facing his former team could rejuvenate a slumping Argos ground attack.
The Argos need to get back to running the football with White, DJ Foster, and Antonio Pipkin with the RPO attack sprinkled in.
BC Lions Offence Versus Toronto Argonauts Defence
- The BC Lions are sixth in the CFL in scoring per game (17.6). But that number has gone down considerably in recent weeks due to the absence of arguably the league’s most dynamic player, Lucky Whitehead. The Leos lack of a rushing attack hasn’t helped matters either. They are last in the league at just 61 yards per game. The passing attack for BC has fared much better, ranking third in the league with an average of 271 yards per game. At one point, the Lions had the league’s #1 passing attack.
- Toronto’s defence has plummeted in their last four games. Weeks ago, the Argos were first in the CFL against the run, they are now 7th, allowing 110 yards per game on the ground. Toronto’s pass defence has also struggled. The Argonauts are second to last in the CFL in pass yards allowed per game, only behind BC at 276.7. The Boatmen have allowed 16 majors through the air. Only Ottawa has allowed more touchdown passes this season.
Injuries and turnover to their coaching staff in mid-season have played a part in their struggles. But the truth is that the Argos defence has not lived up to their talent level or billing. On paper, a defence that has Rich Stubler and Chris Jones coaching for it and a potential CFL Hall of Famer like Charleston Hughes should be excellent. But neither one of those three names has lived up to their lofty reputations.
The Argos bend but don’t break philosophy is broken. Since Week 7, when Toronto’s coaching exodus began, with Glen Young and Joshua Bell departing, the Argonauts defenders have been run around, over and past.
The Lions’ are not known for their rushing attack, but they’d be foolish not to test the waters with a talented runner and receiver like CFL rookie James Butler. Fantasy players looking for a bargain player this weekend, should look in Butler’s direction.
BC’s best weapon, Lucky Whitehead returns, and he is who the Argos should fear the most. Not only will he command extra attention, but Whitehead could open up things for the rest of his talented teammates like Bryan Burnham, who has killed the Argos in the past.
An aspect of this game that could favor the Argos defence in this one is the elements. The weather forecast in the Six on Saturday afternoon is calling for steady rain throughout the game. The Lions are a dome team built to play on a fast surface. A rainy grass field could slow down BC’s passing attack. If not, Toronto is going to have their hands full containing the Lions’ passing attack captained by Michael Reilly.
Argos-Lions Special Teams Matchup
As mentioned in the previous section. Weather can play a significant factor in this game. The momentum of a game can shift with one misplay on the ball.
Jimmy Camacho has done an excellent job, shoring up BC’s kicking game, connecting on 82 percent of his field goals, since joining the Leos. But kicking on a wet grass surface outdoors can be very challenging.
Although, BC hasn’t had many explosive returns this season. The Lions have two very capable returners in Chris Rainey and Lucky Whitehead. Either player can change a game at a moment’s notice, but the elements may play against them in this one.
The Argos special teams haven’t been spectacular all season, specifically in the return game, but their overall play has improved in recent weeks. Mark Nelson’s group will have to keep that trend going on Saturday.
I was all set to call for the BC upset, based on how poorly the Argos have been playing on the defensive side of the ball, combined with key players that have been missing on offence like RT Jamal Campbell and WR Eric Rogers.
Playing at home can be a cure-all, but it doesn’t always camouflage or make up for a team’s shortcomings. However, the weather forecast can be a neutralizer and the playing field itself at BMO favor the Argonauts in what I believe will be a very close game. Even if weather doesn’t come into play, the setting favors Double Blue.
Both teams have something to prove after last week, and there is a lot at stake for Toronto and BC. The Lions are more desperate than the Argos, and you have to assume that the Pride will show a lot of it, after last week’s humiliating performance against Winnipeg.
I think that Toronto’s offensive line could be the deciding factor in this game. If the Argonauts can control the line of scrimmage on offence, they will sail into the playoffs. If not, doubt will start to creep in and let the air out of the Boatmen’s sails.
Final Score: Toronto Argonauts 19 BC Lions 18
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October 31, 2021 at 3:45 pm
Excellent analysis to set the stage for what actually happened! The score was wrong but the rest was right on. btw I don’t know why the Argos keep putting Hughes out there each game. He hasn’t hurt the team but he has not helped them, either. with so much depth in that position i find this to be the most baffling question so far this season.