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CFL Week 14: Toronto Argonauts @ Ottawa REDBLACKS Game Preview/Prediction

Week 14 of the CFL season features a tripleheader this Saturday. The Toronto Argonauts and Ottawa REDBLACKS will kick things off with an afternoon battle at TD Place. The first of two straight battles between the two Ontario rivals over the next three weeks. With a bye week for both teams sandwiched in between.

CFL Week 14: Toronto Argonauts @ Ottawa REDBLACKS Preview

  • Location: TD Place, Ottawa, Ontario
  • DateSaturday, September 10th, 2022
  • Kickoff2 p.m. ET
  • Spread: Argonauts favored by 1.5 points. Over/Under: 48.5
  • Weather Forecast: Mostly sunny skies. High near 85F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.

Toronto and Ottawa are sporting two-game win streaks heading into Saturday. The Argonauts are coming off consecutive victories over rival Hamilton, and the Redblacks have won back-to-back games on the road. All three of their victories this season have come away from TD Place. Ottawa has yet to win at home this season. But perhaps that can change this week.

The last time these two teams met head-to-head. The then winless Redblacks surprised the Argos at BMO Field with a 23-13 victory. After an 0-6 start, Ottawa is back in the thick of things in the Eastern playoff race. They are only one game behind second-place Montreal and with two home clashes with Toronto. The Redblacks have a chance to pick up more ground in the division.

The Boatmen have an opportunity to slow down Ottawa’s momentum if they can avenge their week eight loss to the REDBLACKS. A triumph in Week 14 would give Toronto a four-game lead over their Ontario brothers and inch them closer to clinching a playoff berth.

CFL Week 14: Toronto Argonauts Depth Chart

The Argos will once again be without a fullback this week. This is the third straight game that has occurred. The team has been relatively healthy the last few weeks, and they are trotting out the same starting lineups since Week 11.

C Justin Lawrence, limited in practice with a knee injury, will tough it out and play on Saturday. If Lawrence were to suffer an in-game setback. Toronto’s options are limited. They have consistently dressed only two reserve linemen every week. Theren Churchill, and Shane Richards. Philip Blake or Dariusz Bladek would likely slide to Centre in that scenario.

CFL Week 14: Ottawa REDBLACKS Depth Chart

Ottawa is also reasonably healthy coming into this contest. However, they will be without standout field corner Sherrod Baltimore. Brandon Dandrige is back with the Redblacks after a stint in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs. He will be starting immediately at cornerback. WR RJ Harris joins Baltimore on the one-game injured list.

Keys To A Toronto Victory

Pass protection and run blocking were significant issues for the Argos the last time they matched up with Ottawa’s defensive front. Toronto allowed four sacks and netted only 33 yards rushing. As a result, the team scored only 13 points.

The Argonauts must find a way to slow down DT Davon Coleman (4 sacks) and CFL sack leader Lorenzo Mauldin (10 sacks). The Redblacks blitzed Toronto heavily and challenged them to throw the football down the field. Until Argos can make Ottawa pay for utilizing that strategy, they will see more of the same in Week 14.

Defensively, Toronto struggled mightily to contain the CFL’s leading receiver Jaelon Acklin. The Argos’ killer had ten receptions for 144 yards and a score in his last meeting with the Boatmen’s defence. Acklin is very good in space and can outrun Toronto’s physical corners. Corey Mace and his defenders have to find a way to limit his yards after the coach.

The one thing that would seemingly be in the Argonauts’ favor when facing their former quarterback Nick Arbuckle is the amount of intel the entire coaching staff has on him. Toronto is loaded with Calgary coaches who know the book on Arbuckle. Including his former position coach Ryan Dinwiddie.

Expect Toronto to try and get Arbuckle out of his comfort zone by forcing him to throw into tight coverage and off-rhythm. Something that he has struggled with in the past. Arbuckle also tends to favor his throws to the right side. Look for Toronto to take away those options.

Keys To An Ottawa Victory

Two things that Ottawa did well the last time they faced Toronto were moving the pocket for their QB and using the run-pass option game to rush for over 100 yards. Nick Arbuckle is not as adept at running the football as Caleb Evans. But he is mobile, an adept ball handler, and has experience running an RPO offence, dating back to his college days at Georgia State.

Paul LaPolice and his offensive attack have done a better job in recent weeks of running the football. Devonte Williams and the team’s mobile QB duo rushed for 125 yards last week against Montreal. The consistent threat of the run game will open up one-on-one opportunities for Jaelon Acklin, Darvin Adams, and company in the passing attack.

Defensively, Ottawa has the advantage matchup-wise against Toronto’s offensive front. The Argos rely heavily on quick passes, are one-dimensional in their attack, and struggle to get chunk plays in the passing game. McLeod Betel-Thompson has had a tendency to throw inaccurate passes when he doesn’t have time to set his feet in the pocket.

The one area where Ottawa consistently has an overwhelming edge over their opponents is on special teams. That’s a credit to one of the best special teams coaches on any level of football in Bob Dyce. The Redblacks are so well orchestrated on all their ST units. And now, they have one of the deadliest players back in their fold in Devonte Dedmon. Teams have been kicking away from him since he returned to the CFL from the NFL. And rightfully so, but sooner or later, he will get a chance to break one.

The Argos special teams led by Mickey Donovan have played better in recent weeks. Especially their coverage units, but they caught a break the last two games, not having to face electrifying returner Lawrence Woods, who victimized them with over 200 return yards a month ago.

CFL Week 14 Toronto Argonauts @ Ottawa REDBLACKS Prediction

This will be a closely contested battle that will come down to turnovers and who can make game-changing plays.

Several things are working against Toronto this week.

Firstly, they are facing a team that has yet to win at home this season. That doesn’t sound like a negative for the Argos. But the law of averages suggests that the Redblacks are due to win a game in their building.

Secondly, although Toronto has plenty of motivation in this game, based on how Ottawa beat them last time. Psychologically, it will be challenging for them to come off the high of playing and beating Hamilton in the Labour Day Classic. With all due respect to Ottawa, who’s had a few different incarnations over their storied existence. There is something slightly different in the Argos facing the Ticats compared to the REDBLACK-Argonaut matchups.

Lastly, Ottawa matches up well on paper against Toronto. The REDBLACKS are not pass-reliant like Hamilton, who played right into the Argos’ strengths on defence. Ottawa matches up well with Toronto because of their pass rush and special teams. Two areas that are elite for the Redblacks.

With all that being said, I think that despite playing on a short week, Toronto has gone to school on what ailed them in their week eight loss to Ottawa. Corey Mace’s defence has added new wrinkles since the last meeting with Ottawa. And I think it will make a difference when the smoke clears on this contest.

Prediction: Toronto Argonauts 22 Ottawa REDBLACKS 20

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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