Week 7 of the 2022 CFL season concludes on Sunday evening when the 2-2 Toronto Argonauts square off for the second week in a row with the 4-2 Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium in Regina. The 2022 Touchdown Atlantic rematch that was almost sidetracked is back on after COVID issues on the Riders nearly forced the league to postpone the game to a much later date.
CFL Week 7 Preview: Toronto Argonauts @ Saskatchewan Roughriders
- Location: Mosaic Stadium, Regina, SK
- Date: Sunday, July 24, 2022
- Kickoff: 5:00 p.m. Local time/7:00 p.m. ET
- Spread: Roughriders favored by 1.5 points. Over/Under: 46.5
- TV: TSN/ESPN+
- Forecast: Early cloudy skies followed by increasing clouds with showers developing later at night. Low 56F. Winds SE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 40%.
Last week’s 30-24 TDA victory by Toronto over Saskatchewan was the first time the Argos had defeated the Riders in a regular season game since 2016. Coincidentally, it’s also the last time the Argonauts have won a road game against the Roughriders in Regina. A year ago, Saskatchewan bested the Boatmen 30-16 at home.
Winning back-to-back games against the same opponent in the CFL, with the latter contest on the road, is exceedingly challenging. However, if the Argos are going to pull this one off, they might be catching the Roughriders at the right time.
Often, in sports during a season, it’s not who you play but when you play them. Saskatchewan is coming into Sunday’s contest in an unsettled position. The Riders were sidetracked when their team was hit with COVID, delaying their work week, and Saskatchewan is missing a few key players due to injuries and suspensions.
WR Duke Williams has been suspended for Sunday’s contest for his actions during Touchdown Atlantic. A week after, defensive linemen, Garrett Marino was suspended for his antics against Ottawa. Quarterback Cody Fajardo has been dealing with a knee injury all season long. And he suffered a setback in last week’s game with Toronto.
The dog days of summer might be wearing on the Roughriders. They haven’t had a bye week since the season started. And the accumulated effect has taken its toll on them. In contrast, the Argos are relatively healthy and have had two bye weeks already this season.
In many respects, because they won round one last week. The Argonauts are playing a house money game in Regina. Because of their current standing in the East division, they can afford a loss. The Riders, however, are in a much more precarious position in the West. Not only is Saskatchewan looking up at the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Calgary Stampeders. But they also have an upcoming home date next Friday with the now 4-1 BC Lions.
Toronto Argonauts Week 6 Depth Chart/Injury Report
Late in the week, the Argonauts got some good and bad news.
The good news was that RG Dariusz Bladek (ankle) practiced on Friday and will make the start against his former team on Sunday.
The bad news is that LT Isiah Cage will miss Sunday’s game. He ominously showed up on the practice reports as a DNP on Friday with a head injury.
Cage has had several unlucky setbacks since 2019. The 2022 version was a concussion suffered at his place of residence right before the season that kept him out of action until last week. The latest setback for Cage is a troubling one. And very unfortunate.
Trevon Tate, who started the first three games on the blindside for the Boatmen, will take Cage’s spot. Isiah Cage has been placed on the Argos six-game injured list.
Other significant news is that safety Royce Metchie is out for personal reasons. He will be replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Eric Sutton.
Toronto is dressing two fullbacks, which could be a tip off that the team will look to change up their offensive gameplan in the rushing attack from a week ago.
Saskatchewan Roughriders Week 7 Depth Chart/Injury Report
The delay in the practice week caused by COVID issues, and the one day pushback of Sunday’s game does in a roundabout way, create a competitive advantage for the Riders. In the sense, that it’s created uncertainty for Toronto in who to game plan against. Saskatchewan can use protocol rules to their benefit by not having to list a permanent depth chart.
A new layer of gamesmanship heading into this contest. The Argos have had to game plan for three different quarterbacks. Despite the depth chart release, there is still mystery over who will be playing on the pivot.
The primary story coming into this game is the availability of the Roughriders’ signal-callers. Cody Fajardo is presumably sitting this game out. CFL newcomer Jake Dolegala is slated to make his first ever start in Canada at the pivot. Mason Fine has recovered from being in COVID protocols, and will be Dolegala’s backup. Maybe. Fine is listed as a gametime decision.
Things are more clear cut at the receiver position. The Roughriders are without Duke Williams due to suspension, and Kyran Moore will his second straight contest. Mitchell Picton will also miss another game.
Defensively, the Roughriders’ COVID issues extended to their defense. Players like standout LB Darnell Sankey missed practice time in the protocol. But he will be in the lineup. However, Saskatchewan will be missing the CFL’s leader in sacks, Peter Robertson, who also missed last Saturday’s TDA affair. DE AC Leonard is also out. 2021 Argo Charleston Hughes gets the start in his place.
Argos-Riders Game Analysis Keys
From Saskatchewan’s perspective, two critical elements to last week’s matchup with Toronto stood out prominently for them, and both involve the running game.
The Riders not leaning heavily enough on their league-leading rushing attack with the combination of Jamal Morrow and Frankie Hickson. And Saskatchewan’s over-commitment on defense to shut down Andrew Harris.
On offense, the Riders, with an immobile quarterback and a depleted receiving corps, allowed five sacks and countless pressures to Toronto. Toronto defensive coordinator Corey Mace wisely dialed up several corner blitzes against a statue-like pivot in Cody Fajardo.
Toronto’s defense would love to repeat what they did last week, disrupting the Riders’ passing game. However, having the uncertainty of which quarterback to prepare for this week could play against the Argos’ defensive game plan.
Toronto did a good job containing Jamal Morrow in the second half of last week’s contest. But Saskatchewan’s game plan by Jason Maas did them no favors. Morrow finished with 77 yards on only 11 carries, and fifty-one came on one play. But Morrow didn’t receive enough touches in a tightly contested game. Frankie Hickson touched the ball only once after rushing for nearly a hundred yards the week before.
The Riders were too pass-heavy in their attack against Toronto. With a two-point lead late, rather than trying to grind out the clock. They went to the air, and it backfired, leading to a 50-yard game-sealing pick-six by Wynton McManis. A more conservative approach may have proved fruitful for the Roughriders.
Out of necessity, because of injuries, Saskatchewan might be forced to flip the script in Regina and go back to their bread and butter in the ground game. Their greatest success last week against Toronto was in their RPO/play-action game. The Riders struck paydirt on a beautiful run-fake that led to a 32-yard score by Duke Williams. Deception might be the Roughriders’ offense’s best weapon on Sunday with an uncertain quarterback situation.
Defensively, the Riders stacked the box against Toronto last week and achieved their goal of limiting Toronto’s ground game. But Toronto countered against an over-committed defense by flooding zones and confusing the Riders’ secondary. The Argos took several deep shots in the game and had chunk plays in the passing game.
The Argos’ offensive line allowed zero sacks against the CFL’s most productive defense in that category, thanks in part to the return of LT Isiah Cage. Still, play design and sound decision-making by McLeod Bethel-Thompson also aided Double Blue’s effectiveness.
Although Toronto played in a road-like setting last week in Nova Scotia, the Boatmen’s offensive line faces a much more arduous task dealing with the atmosphere in Mosaic Stadium.
Riders’ defensive coordinator Jason Shivers will look to free up his pass rush at home by confusing the Argos upfront. Potentially by using stunts and blitzes to get Bethel-Thompson out of a comfort zone in the pocket. Centre Justin Lawrence has struggled mightily snaping the football in recent weeks. And the Argos had issues allowing free runners into the backfield. Saskatchewan will love to disrupt the Argos protection schemes and use the loud home crowd to their advantage.
Argos’ offensive play caller Ryan Dinwiddie will stay committed to his rushing attack with Andrew Harris. But an exact repeat of what Toronto did successfully a week ago might not work as well this time. The future hall of fame running back needs to be more productive in Round 2, and Toronto has to do a better job keeping defenders out of the backfield than they did a week ago.
Toronto’s special teams struggled last week, particularly against the return game. Mario Alford nearly broke two long returns for scores last week.
Boris Bede, who set a very high standard last season, has failed to live up to it this season. The Argos might need Bede to go back to his 2021 version if they are to win round two.
When healthy, Saskatchewan is arguably the CFL’s most balanced overall team. But with so much uncertainty due to the week leading in because of player absences on offense and defense. The Riders’ special teams may have to carry a heavier load this week if they want to tip the scales in their favor and win at home.
CFL Week 7: Roughriders-Argonauts Prediction
Nine times out of ten, you take the Riders at home. After all, they are undefeated in Regina this year (3-0). Saskatchewan has lost only three games at Mosiac in their last three seasons of play. (16-3 in the regular season) It’s one of the most challenging places for opposing teams to try and win.
You also have to consider that CFL teams coming home off a loss in a back-to-back scenario against the same opponent typically win the follow-up. And sometimes it’s in easy fashion.
Earlier this season, after losing on a short week at Montreal. The Riders bounced back a week later at home, destroying the Alouettes 41-20. So the prospects of Toronto besting Saskatchewan two weeks in a row on the Roughriders’ home field doesn’t seem likely.
However, if there was ever going to be an opportune time to beat Saskatchewan in their building. It’s this week, and the Riders are playing this game under less than ideal circumstances.
The Argos are starting to hit their stride as a football team, with their two best efforts of the season against Winnipeg and Saskatchewan. Make no mistake, despite Toronto’s advantages coming into Sunday’s game. Regardless of the Roughriders’ disadvantages. They will need to play at a high level to top Saskatchewan again.
Games on the road can turn on you fast. Some road teams tend to fall behind quickly and then check out mentally. The Argos need to bring the same fight they did a week ago. Minus the near fighting that took place. If Toronto can survive the early blows and keep momentum on their side, they will have a puncher’s chance to pull off the upset and win Round 2 in Regina.
Part of me wants to be bold and pick the Argonauts for the second week in a row. But I think Saskatchewan will adjust from the first meeting and ride their home field advantage to a closely contested victory.
Saskatchewan Roughriders 24 Toronto Argonauts 23
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