The reigning CFL Champion Toronto Argonauts are riding high after starting their season in style at home a week ago. But they face a classic trap game in Week 3 as they head West to face the 0-2 Edmonton Elks.
The last time Toronto and Edmonton met was Week 19 of the 2022 season. The Argos fell down two scores early but rallied late to edge out the Elks 28-23 in the closing seconds. It was the Argonauts’ first win in Edmonton since 2013. A place where historically, the Argos have struggled to win.
Unfortunately, struggling to win in Edmonton has become an epidemic for the home team. The Elks have now lost a CFL-record 18 consecutive home games. A mark of futility that dates back to October 12th, 2019.
At some point, Edmonton’s home hex will be exorcised. As improbable as it appears on paper. Could it come this Sunday night?
CFL Week 3: Toronto Argonauts (1-0) @ Edmonton Elks (0-2), Sunday, June 25th, 7 pm ET, Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, TSN/CBSSN/CFL+
Point Spread: Toronto Argonauts are favored by 6.5 points
Weather Forecast: Cloudy with a 60 percent chance of showers. Low 14
Edmonton Elks Week 3 Depth Chart/Injury Report
Quarterback Taylor Cornelius remains as the Elks’ starter at QB. Despite his early season struggles. The hook could come early if his play doesn’t improve.
The big change for Edmonton in Week 3 is at boundary cornerback. Veteran Ed Gaines, who was off to a great start in 2023, has been placed on the six-game injured list. He will be replaced in the lineup by Marcus Lewis, who was released at final cuts and then brought back. WR Kyran Moore will see an expanded role this week with Emmanuel Arcenaux out of the lineup.
Toronto Argonauts Week 3 Depth Chart/Injury Report
The depth of the Argos roster will be challenged on Sunday. Toronto is not only without Henoc Muamba, Markeith Ambles, and Darius Bladek for the opening part of the season. But now key contributors like WR Kurleigh Gittens Jr. and DT Shawn Oakman are also out of action. The latter two were placed on the one-game injured list. Centre Darius Ciraco is a game-time decision. If he is unable to go, Toronto would shift Peter Nicastro back to his usual natural spot.
To help replace Gittens Jr. at slot back, preseason standout B.J. Byrd has been called up from the practice roster. In a surprising move, despite an excellent debut at boundary cornerback, Qwan’tez Stiggers is inactive for Sunday night’s game. Jamal Peters is back at his usual spot after sitting out game #1.
Keys To The Game For Edmonton And Toronto
The Edmonton Elks are coming off two consecutive tough losses to start their season. However, there is a glass-half-full way of looking at their shortcomings thus far.
The Elks dropped a tough four-point 17-13 loss at home to the Riders and then followed that up with a 17-0 loss in B.C. against the now 3-0 Lions. The latter doesn’t look as bad now, considering that the Lions just smashed the Bombers and held them to six points in Winnipeg.
Perhaps Edmonton’s zero-point effort had more to do with B.C.’s shutdown defence, rather than the Elks offensive futility. And lost in the sauce of the Elks rough start on offence, is that their defence has played much better this season than they did a year ago.
Edmonton held Saskatchewan and B.C., two capable offenses with proven pivots, to 17 points a piece. Considering how bad the Elks were in 2022 defensively. That’s a positive sign.
Nevertheless, Edmonton must find a way to kick-start their offensive attack against Toronto. The team is not lacking in the talent department at RB and WR. But they haven’t clicked yet.
The Elks need to find a way to protect their quarterback. It’s something they have struggled with in the first two weeks. The Argos unveiled a much more aggressive blitzing style in their opener under Corey Mace than they operated under last season. Edmonton has to challenge the Argos’ single coverage downfield with their elite receivers to have a chance on Sunday night.
Geno Lewis, who has killed the Argonauts in the past, needs to become a bigger focal point for Edmonton. Although Qwantez Stiggers had a promising debut for the Double Blue last weekend. The CFL neophyte should be challenged frequently.
On Toronto’s side of the coin. The Argos showed flashes of greatness on all three sides of the ball last week.
The offence under Chad Kelly showed great promise, particularly in the first half against Hamilton, before going into cruise control in the second part of their home opener.
Despite the public coronation that has begun universally for Chad Kelly in CFL circles. The jury is still out on him and Toronto’s offensive attack. Kelly played within himself a week ago. Edmonton will try to force him to make throws into tight coverage. Overconfidence on Kelly’s part can work against him and in the Elks’ favor.
The Elks are banged up in their secondary and will be without boundary cornerback Ed Gaines. Look for Kelly to challenge once again on the outside. The majority of his success in week one came from him looking there early and often. Week One star Damonte Coxie could be in line for another big game.
Defensively, Toronto needs to force Edmonton into second and long situations. The Elks, despite having one of the more effective runners in the CFL in Kevin Brown, haven’t been able to sustain drives because of pass protection issues upfront and indecisiveness at quarterback.
The Argos need to eliminate the threat of Kevin Brown and his propensity for long runs. By doing so, Toronto can unleash it’s evolving pass rush on Edmonton.
CFL Week 3 Toronto Argonauts @ Edmonton Elks Prediction
This game has a letdown written all over it for Toronto. The Boatmen are still basking in their glory and are bound to be overconfident coming into Sunday night.
Heading out West is always challenging for East teams. On top of that, the gleeful Argonauts are facing a very desperate and angry Edmonton team. Ryan Dinwiddie’s team can’t afford to rest on their laurels and assume that throwing on their new shiny Cambridge helmets will be enough to earn a victory. No matter how talented Toronto is from top to bottom.
Like last October, I think Edmonton gives the Argos a fight on Sunday night, and the game will go down to the wire.
Prediction: Toronto Argonauts 26 Edmonton Elks 24
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