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CFL Week 8: Ottawa REDBLACKS @ Toronto Argonauts Week 8 Preview/Prediction

Week 8 of the CFL season will conclude with a Sunday showdown in the Six, as the East-Leading 3-2 Toronto Argonauts host the 0-6 Ottawa REDBLACKS at BMO Field. It’s the second week in a row that the Argos will be playing on a Sunday.

CFL Week 8 Preview: Ottawa REDBLACKS @ Toronto Argonauts Preview

  • Location: BMO Field, Toronto, Ontario
  • DateSunday, July 31, 2022
  • Kickoff5:00 p.m. ET
  • Spread: Argonauts favored by 5.5 points. Over/Under: 47
  • Forecast: Sunshine. Clear skies, High 30C. Winds SSW at 10 to 20 mph.

The Toronto Argonauts have won five straight games over the Ottawa REDBLACKS at BMO Field. The last time Ottawa topped Toronto in the Six was back in 2016.

On paper, this game has the appearance of a mismatch. An 0-6 team in Ottawa on the road facing a Toronto team that is rounding into form after two straight victories. But looks can be deceiving.

The REDBLACKS might be winless; however, they have lost all six of their games by a total of 36 points. Five of their defeats were by one score. And three of Ottawa’s losses have been by three points or fewer. It’s been that kind of tough luck season for the REDBLACKS, who lost their high-profile quarterback Jeremiah Masoli a few weeks back.

Sooner or later, things are going to fall in Ottawa’s favor. The theme’s mantra heading into Sunday is “Flip The Script.” Beating the Argonauts on their field would certainly be the first step in changing the narrative of the 2022 REDBLACKS season.

Toronto has come a long way since they were embarrassed by Nathan Rourke and the Lions 44-3 in BC back in Week 2. Since then, the Argos lost a one-point game to the reigning CFL champion Blue Bombers on a botched extra point. And then, effectively on the road, swept Saskatchewan in back-to-back games.

Sunday’s game with Ottawa starts a stretch where the Boatmen will play seven of their next games against Ottawa and Hamilton. The Argos have a chance to create further distance in their division and dampen the spirits of Ottawa even further by holding serve at home.

Toronto Argonauts Week 8 Depth Chart/Injury Report

The Argonauts are down to Option C at left tackle, with Isiah Cage and Trevon Tate both on the six-game injured list. Starting Left Guard Philip Blake will slide over to the blind side at LT while rookie first-round pick Gregor MacKellar makes his first-ever CFL start next to Blake. Theren Churchill and super sub G/T Shane Richards will provide depth. But Toronto can’t afford any more injuries up front.

WR DaVaris Daniels will miss Sunday’s contest due to a head injury suffered last week against Saskatchewan. Dejon Brissett is a game-time decision. Damonte Coxie and Tommy Nield will help provide depth across from Kurleigh Gittens, Brandon Banks, Markeith Ambles, and Cam Phillips at receiver.

Defensively, Toronto will have safety Royce Metchie back after he is away from the team to be close to his family and brother John Metchie. The Argos depth is a bit thin in the back end of their secondary. Eric Sutton, Josh Hagerty, and Eric Sutton are out on Sunday. Caleb Holden has been called up from the practice roster. Robert Priester, who has been playing the SAM position, could see some action at DB.

Ottawa REDBLACKS Week 8 Depth Chart/Injury Report

The REDBLACKS will be without defensive backs Justin Howell (shoulder), Douglas Coleman (hamstring), and Hakeem Bailey (quadriceps). Receiver Tevaun Smith (wrist) will also miss Sunday’s game.

The good news for Ottawa is that their vastly improved offense is getting back wide receiver Ryan Davis. The REDBLACKS leader in receptions in 2021 will make his 2022 debut, teaming up with a talented bunch of receivers.

Defensively, Ottawa gets back Abdul Kanneh in their secondary. He is back at HB, while talented cover cornerback Ranthony Texada heads back to his natural spot on the outside replacing the injured Hakeem Bailey.

Redblacks At Argonauts Game Analysis/Keys

The record may not reflect it, but the Argonauts are facing a much better Redblacks team than they have in recent years, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

Thanks to an offseason loaded with quality additions. Ottawa has one of the more balanced offenses in the CFL. The return of William Powell to the Redblacks has paid dividends for their run game. And WR Jaelon Acklin is currently second in the league in receiving yards with 543.

Despite the devastating loss of Jeremiah Masoli. Second-year CFL pivot Caleb Evans has stepped in and done an excellent job in Paul LaPolice’s offense. Caleb Evans has rushed for two touchdowns in both games, he has started while throwing for 500 yards and two touchdowns. Evans has five scores overall on the ground this season.

A year ago in Toronto, Caleb Evans accumulated nearly 400 yards of offense against the Argos. But he turned the football over four times, including three interceptions, one for a pick-six in Ottawa’s 35-16 loss at BMO Field. Evans will need to avoid repeating the same mistakes this year.

Corey Mace’s Argonauts defense is getting progressively better each week. Toronto’s defense is fully healthy, adding all-stars back into their lineup. And they are coming off a game where they gave up less than 200 yards. They will look to frustrate and confuse Evans on Sunday.

The Argos offense has been red hot the last few weeks. Thanks to the play of McLeod Bethel-Thompson and Andrew Harris. Bethel-Thompson has thrown for 926 yards and six TDs over his past three games. The Argonauts are running the ball exceedingly well with Andrew Harris, who is second in the league in rushing. Surprisingly enough, Harris has yet to score a touchdown this season despite his success.

The one area of Toronto’s offense that could be significantly challenged on Sunday is their offensive line. The Argos are missing critical pieces at offensive tackle, and they will be starting a rookie in Gregor MacKellar at left guard. With Guard Philip Blake playing out of position on the blindside. Ottawa defensive coordinator Mike Benevides will look to exploit the Argonauts’ vulnerability on the left side.

Edge rusher Lorenzo Mauldin and DT Davon Coleman have combined for nine sacks this season. Mauldin is second in the CFL in that category. Look for the Redblack pass-rushing tandem to try and win their battles against Blake and MacKellar. For Ottawa to beat Toronto, that’s exactly what needs to happen.

Toronto’s special teams saved the day late in their win against Saskatchewan. Thanks to a 35-yard punt return by Brandon Banks and a forced fumble on a kickoff for a touchdown to seal the victory late. But Mickey Donovan’s unit will be significantly tested by one of the league’s best special teams, headed by Bob Dyce. Despite their overall struggles in recent years, thanks to Coach Dyce, the REDBLACKS have had one of the deadliest special teams units in the last several years.

Dyce’s schemes and coverage units are always fantastic. Ottawa has missed Devonte Dedmon, who is currently with the Miami Dolphins. But Terry Williams has done a respectable job in his place, averaging nearly 26 yards per kick return.

CFL Week 8: Redblacks-Argonauts Prediction

Sooner or later, Ottawa is going to win. They are a frustrated and desperate football team. In contrast, Toronto, walking on a much easier street than Ottawa headed into this game, might have difficulty matching the REDBLACKS’ do-or-die energy on Sunday.

Toronto is getting top-level play from their star players, and the offense and defense are clicking on all cylinders. But the Boatmen need to avoid being complacent or repeating some of the untimely errors that nearly cost them a game last week they should’ve won handily.

Even though Toronto is at home, I am tempted to pick Ottawa this week. Because they are due, and the football gods owe them one. It’s not hyperbole; the REDBLACKS’ entire season is on the line Sunday, and they can’t afford to lose.

That’s why I believe this game will come to the final seconds. But I am taking Toronto in an extremely close affair.

Toronto Argonauts 27 Ottawa Redblacks 25

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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