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Now 3-5, Are the Ottawa Redblacks Looking at a Must-Win Game Against Toronto?

Can the Redblacks rebound against the best team in the division or are they headed for a third straight loss?

Currently the 3-5 Ottawa Redblacks sit tied for fourth in the East division. They have lost two straight games, ironically the second longest losing streak currently behind only Edmonton. Having lost twice to the Tiger-Cats also 3-5 and the Alouettes once. While Toronto just saw their first loss settling in at 6-1 they have not yet played Ottawa. All of this adds up to Ottawa on the outside looking in for the playoffs.

There is still a lot of football to be played this season, only in week 10, the Redblacks still have 9 weeks remaining following their game against Toronto. However, the way this schedule worked out for Ottawa, they are heading into the toughest half of their schedule. This week Ottawa drew Toronto, next it’s Montreal two very crucial games if the Redblacks want any hopes of making it to the playoffs.

The worst part of the season will come at the end when the Redblacks face the Alouetes and Redblacks twice each in the last four weeks of the season. Sandwiched between those games are some opponents that I believe we have a much better chance against. Edmonton, BC, and Saskatchewan are all teams that could be beatable for Ottawa. They will play Hamilton again as well, but their track record against the Tiger-Cats hasn’t looked good for the last 3-4 seasons.

Looking Back on Week 9

Dustin Crum has revitalized this team since entering the line-up. He has led Ottawa to a 2-2 record in his four starts. He has looked amazing at times, bringing his team back from the brink of losses more than once. He has started to become a cult-hero due to his weekly comeback attempts, and exciting style of play.

A two point loss, this was a hard fought game on both sides of the ball. Saskatchewan was able to shut down the Redblacks rushing attack, which had been the most important facet of their team for the last few weeks. Allowing just 96 yards on the day, the Redblacks did not see a player top 34 rushing yards. Only Jackson Bennett, and Dustin Crum managed over 5 yards per carry on 9 total touches, together they had 54 rushing yards.

Rushing Attack Couldn’t Keep The Engine Running

Big plays in the run game came from each player. Bennett had a 13 yard run, Williams had a 12 yard run, and Crum had a 9 yard carry. Take away these three plays and suddenly their performance looks a lot worse as a team with 35% of their run game coming on just three big runs.

Toronto has one of the best run defenses in the league, allowing just 78 yards per game, the 3rd least in the league behind Ottawa, and BC. They are second in yards per carry allowed with 4.1, Ottawa again leading that category with 3.3.

Crum had one of his best games as a passer completing 16 of 20 attempts for 174 yards on the day averaging 8.7 yards per attempt. Tyrrell Pigrome continues to be involved, quite heavily. He had 5 carries for 7 yards and threw one incomplete pass, but he played a role once again a trend I only expect to continue.

This could be another strong outing for Crum. The Toronto secondary has allowed the highest completion rate to opposing quarterbacks in the league with 72.8%. If Crum can manage to have another great outing, Ottawa could surprise Toronto in this one. The priority has to be getting the rushing attack going right away. Crum needs to be able to rely on play action, and high percentage throws in particular comebacks, and crossers.

Special Teams Showing Up Big

Special teams as would be expected were very crucial to this game. Even in a loss, I feel the often forgotten phase of the team deserves a game-ball. Tobias Harris as the new return man due to the injury to Brandin Dandridge, had 3 kick returns for 65 yards, and 4 punt returns for 67 yards. He broke 30+ yard returns on a kick and a punt.

Lewis Ward was 5 of 6 on field goals. His one miss was the difference in the game, but I have a hard time being mad at a kicker who just accounted for 16 of 24 points. Richie Leone did a great job of flipping field position with 7 punts he averaged 56.7 per punt, with a long of 74 yards. Two punts were downed within the 10 yard line. Newly acquired Kevin Francis had 4 special teams tackles on the day.

If this unit continues to play this well, this Ottawa team will be in nearly every game regardless of offensive output. I expect another strong performance this week against Toronto as well.

Defense Has to Produce More Pressure

In this past game the defense was unable to sack the quarterback, but produced 6 tackles for a loss on the day. Forcing three fumbles was a huge reason this game was as close as it ended up as Ottawa recovered all of those fumbles.

He’s back ladies and gentlemen. While Jovan Santos-Knox certainly did not look like he was 100%, he had 9 total tackles, with 3 going for a loss. He still looked like he needs a couple weeks to get back to his old self, but it was good to see him in the lineup and making plays again. This defense has missed him, and it can really only help a solid run defense get better.

Bryce Carter continues to have an amazing season so far. In this past game he had 3 tackles all for a loss, and 1 forced fumble. In total he has 14 tackles, a team leading 5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble so far this season.

Big Picture

Toronto is currently 3-0 in the division and 3-1 outside of it. Ottawa is 0-3 within the division and now faces the best team in the divison, and possibly the league. Led by MOP candidate Chad Kelly, the Toronto offense has the highest output in the league with 32 points per game. They also have run the fewest offensive plays in the league, and produced the second highest yards per play, meaning this offense scores fast, and you better be ready for a track meet. Ottawa for the season has averaged 22 points per game, but that number has climbed in three of Crum’s four starts. He has topped 32 points just once.

Injury Report

Could we finally see Bralon Addison just in time for a key match-up?

Prediction and Betting Odds

The Betting odds according to DraftKings do not look good for Ottawa. Toronto is favored by ten points in this game. On par with the scoring averages for both teams. The Over/Under is 46.5 points, while the money-line is +340 for Ottawa and -440 for Toronto.

Unfortunately this week, I expect the betting odds to be fairly accurate. I expect to see a 50 point total output or more from both teams. I expect that Toronto will just top 30 points, while Ottawa will do their best to keep up but ultimately fail to score points on two key drives, and will likely lose by at least 1 touchdown, and possibly the ten points listed above.

Toronto has been a powerhouse, and I don’t anticipate that ending now.

Toronto 34-Ottawa 21

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Sam Just Reporter
I am a writer and content creator focusing on alternative football leagues like the UFL, CFL, AFL, IFL, NAL, and AIF. If you like alternative football leagues, check out my personal platform Shady Sports Network on YouTube and all your favorite social media platforms.
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