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CFL Week 16: Toronto Argonauts @ Ottawa REDBLACKS Preview/Prediction

Week 16 of the CFL season sees the East Leading 7-5 Toronto Argonauts head back to the nation’s capital Saturday evening to face off with the 3-9 Ottawa REDBLACKS. A unique back-to-back meeting between the Ontario rivals separated by a bye week.

CFL Week 16: Toronto Argonauts @ Ottawa REDBLACKS Preview

  • Location: TD Place, Ottawa, Ontario
  • DateSaturday, September 24th, 2022
  • Kickoff7 p.m. ET
  • Spread: Argonauts favored by 2.5 points. Over/Under: 46.5
  • Weather Forecast: Partly cloudy skies. Low 8C. Winds W at 10 to 15 km/h.

Playoff picture time has arrived in the 2022 CFL season.

At 7-5, the Toronto Argonauts lead the East division and are inching closer to clinching a playoff spot with six weeks left in the regular season. Ultimately, the Argos have their sights set on winning the East for the second year in a row. Which would net the Boatmen a bye week, an East final game at home, and a win, and you are in the Grey Cup scenario.

But first things first for Double Blue, that’s beating Ottawa in back-to-back games on the road. Toronto hung on to beat Ottawa late 24-19 two weeks ago. But besting the REDBLACKS again at TD place will be no simple task despite Ottawa’s recent history of struggles in their stadium.

The Ottawa REDBLACKS, despite being 3-9, are still mathematically alive for a playoff spot. But they have very little margin for error. If Ottawa is going to turn around their season and keep their faint hopes alive, they will need to finally win their first home game of the 2022 season against Toronto this Saturday.

Ottawa is billing Saturday’s game at home as “Superhero Night” for their loyal fan base. But TD Place has been the Redblacks’ form of kryptonite the last three seasons. They have won only two of their last 22 games at home since 2019. 0-6 this year.

These two Ontario rivals have split the season series to this point. With each team winning on each other’s field. Another road conquering victory on Saturday could effectively end all hope for the home team.

Toronto Argonauts Week 16 Depth Chart

The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for Toronto. They ran out of gas in Week 14, lost vital starters in the game, and nearly let a surefire victory against Ottawa slip away.

In Week 16, the Argos return all three soldiers who had to leave the battlefield two weeks ago. DE Shane Ray, RT Dejon Allen, and Team leader MLB Henoc Muamba will suit up in Double Blue.

DE JaGared Davis arrived late to Toronto’s practice report and practiced in full on Thursday. And in a surprise, he comes off the injured list to play in this game.

FB Declan Cross is back for the Boatmen after missing the last several games. The Argos went without a fullback on their roster during that stretch.

Global standout rookie punter John Haggerty is in the lineup for Week 16. Despite missing practice time due to a hip injury

NFL Veteran DE Damontre Moore makes his CFL debut on Saturday. Moore is listed on the chart as a backup DT but will likely play all over the defensive line for Toronto.

The Argos are dressing only seven offensive linemen on Saturday. But in significant news, the team announced that they have added veteran Canadian OT Ryan Hunter. The former Argos first-round pick in 2018 starts out on the one-game injured list. But will be a regularly active player moving forward in the coming weeks. It’s a huge get for the Boatmen, that won’t affect this particular game. However, the team appears to be getting stronger with each passing day. The Ontario native, Hunter has spent the majority of his pro career in the NFL and now finally makes his way to Canada four years later.

Ottawa REDBLACKS Week 16 Depth Chart

On offence, Ottawa is relatively healthy coming off their bye. However, offensive linemen Randy Richards and C Darius Ciaco (hip) were downgraded late in the practice week and are both out. Rookie Centre Cyrille Hogan-Saindon will replace Ciaco in the middle.

The key missing figure defensively is star DB Sherrod Baltimore (hamstring). He will miss another game this weekend.

CFL Week 16: Keys To A Toronto Victory

In their two meetings against Ottawa. Toronto’s offensive line has struggled to run the football and pass protect. The Argonauts have the league’s worst rushing offense (73 yards per game) and have allowed 34 sacks this season.

The Argos’ worked around those issues in the last meeting with Ottawa, throwing for 365 yards, and challenging the Redblacks secondary down the field. The Boatmen didn’t connect on many deep passes, but the game plan by Ryan Dinwiddie helped open up the underneath game. Tapping into that same formula will be challenging because Ottawa’s defence will be prepared for what they saw last time.

Ottawa’s defensive game plan will entail shutting down Kurleigh Gittens, who shredded the Redblacks’ secondary for nearly 200 yards in Week 14. McLeod Bethel-Thompson needs to connect on the deep balls he missed in Week 14 and effectively connect with his other targets.

The Argos line needs to slow down DE Lorenzo Mauldin (12 sacks) and DT Davon Coleman (4 sacks). Both players can wreak havoc, blow up plays, and kill drives. The last time out, Mauldin had two sacks against Toronto, and he probably could’ve registered a few more.

Defensively, the Argonauts have relied on their cover schemes to slow down Ottawa’s passing attack. But the team’s lack of a pass rush has enabled the Redblacks passers to go through their progressions and find late-breaking receivers. Having a healthy Shane Ray for an entire game will help. He had two sacks, the first time Toronto squared off with Ottawa. But the Argos’ entire stable of rushers, who have a league-low 23 sacks, need to find a way to get home sooner and rattle Nick Arbuckle into mistakes.

CFL Week 16: Keys To An Ottawa Victory

The Argos special teams stuck to the script last time against Ottawa. It’s one that all opposing CFL teams have utilized against the Redblacks—kicking away from DeVonte Dedmon, no matter what. Redblacks special teams coordinator Bob Dyce has had two weeks to counter Mickey Donovan’s strategy, and extra time for film study against the Argos should be a potent weapon for him.

One way to ensure getting Devonte Dedmon the ball in open space is to incorporate him on offence. It’s an added layer to the Redblacks attack that Paul Lapolice hasn’t unleashed since Dedmon returned to Canada. It would be an ideal complement to Argos killer Jaelon Acklin, Darvin Adams, Nate Behar, and the Redblacks’ other desired targets.

Ottawa has had success running the football against Toronto in their two meetings. The Redblacks rushed for over a hundred yards in both matchups his year with the Argos. Last time out, averaging 5.6 yards per rush. The combination of Devonte Williams and better usage of the team’s mobile quarterbacks can help create run-action plays that find pay dirt.

Defensively, Ottawa needs to do a better job of protecting its defensive backs. Without Sherrod Baltimore in the lineup. Toronto consistently targeted Brandin Dandridge and Abdul Kanneh. The Redblacks have the pass rushers to get to the quarterback without having to blitz consistently and leave their DBs vulnerable on an island.

CFL Week 16: Toronto Argonauts @ Ottawa REDBLACKS prediction

All signs point to an Argos victory over the Redblacks. After all, on paper, they have been the better team this season. But nothing has come easy for Double Blue in 2022. Even in their last meeting with Ottawa, it appeared that the Boatmen would sail to an easy victory. But the Double Blue had to sweat it out until the final seconds.

Beating a team back to back on their field, albeit sandwiched between a bye week, is daunting. On the surface, Toronto, winners of three straight, appear to be peaking at the right time. The Argos could be coming into this game too relaxed and overconfident. At the same time, the Redblacks are a desperate bunch, with their season almost past the point of return.

This has all the makings of a trap game for Toronto. Ottawa is going to give their Ontario rivals their best shot. But, Ultimately, I think the Argonauts will find a way to win another nail-biter.

Final Score: Toronto Argonauts 26 Ottawa REDBLACKS 24

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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