CFL Preview - Saskatchewan (8-6) at Edmonton (6-8)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 13, 4:00 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: The Saskatchewan Roughriders try to run their win streak to four in a row on Saturday afternoon, as they take on the Edmonton Eskimos at Commonwealth Stadium.
The Riders have won a total of five games in their last six opportunities and that has moved them into a tie for second place in the Western Division standings with Calgary at 8-6, with both teams chasing British Columbia which has the best mark in the league at 10-4.
On Monday afternoon, Saskatchewan enjoyed one of its most complete games of the season as it ditched Edmonton in a 36-10 final on the road. The Roughriders managed to overcome 11 penalties for 95 yards by limiting an Eskimos squad, itself flagged 17 times for a whopping 126 yards, to just 223 yards of total offense in the meeting.
Darian Durant connected on 21-of-29 passes for 276 yards and a score, that major going to Weston Dressler who caught five balls for a game-high 97 yards. In the third quarter of that outing when Saskatchewan put the game out of reach with 17 unanswered points, Kory Sheets galloped 48 yards to the end zone, which accounted for a large chunk of his game-high 113 rushing yards on 19 carries.
As for the Esks, they too dominated late in their 35-20 win over Hamilton at home last time out, scoring 18 unanswered points of their own in the fourth period to put the outing of reach. Aside from a pair of interceptions, Kerry Joseph had a very strong game for Edmonton as he converted 24-of-39 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns to three different receivers.
Fred Stamps was pivotal in the victory which snapped a five-game slide for Edmonton and kept them in the hunt for a postseason appearance, as he turned nine receptions into 204 yards and a score. It was the first time since last season that Stamps went over the 100-yard mark and his highest total since posting 213 yards on 12 catches against Saskatchewan back in early 2010.
The change in outcome after a more than a month of futility in Edmonton could be attributed to head coach Kavis Reed taking over the responsibilities as offensive coordinator last week as well, but only time will tell if that change in game management will continue to be a successful tool. The move certainly can't hurt, seeing as how Edmonton is still next-to-last in the league in scoring with just 22.4 ppg.
But one has to admit, the Eskimos do have a legitimate excuse for their erratic play this season due to injuries at the quarterback position. The team is second-to-last in the league in total passing yards (3,642) and has almost as many interceptions (15) as passing scores (16) which is why coach Reed has assumed more control of the squad from that aspect. Joseph has completed his pass attempts at a decent 64.8 percent clip, but the fact that he has just as many picks (eight) as he does majors is not a positive sign at all right now.
However, from an overall turnover standpoint, the Eskimos are second in the league with a plus-eight in that department, thanks in large part to Joe Burnett and Chris Thompson who both have five interceptions for the defense and are tied for the league lead in that category. Making a major impact of his own with a league-best four fumble recoveries, Clint Kent has returned two of those for touchdowns, again contributing to the bottom line for the Eskimos.
While Edmonton is one of the top teams at taking the ball away from opponents, the squad needs to keep in mind that Durant is not one to throw wild passes for the Roughriders that often miss their mark. In fact, Durant has one of the lowest interception percentages in the league, having tossed just nine picks on 248 attempts (2.4 percent). Unfortunately for the Riders, Durant's personal history against Edmonton has not been quite as favorable, with the signal- caller delivering twice as many picks (12) than TDs (six) in his 20 career games versus the Esks.
The teams split the first two meetings of the season as the Riders posted a lopsided 17-1 victory in the second week of action, and then Edmonton responded with a 28-20 win at home in August. Thanks to the most recent decision, the Esks now own a 112-82-2 advantage in the all-time, regular- season series going back to 1949.
Edmonton's bump on offense last week could be attributed to the switch made in coaching by Reed so expecting the team to continue that positive trend is certainly not out of the realm of possibility. However, both of these squads are still fighting for the postseason and nothing is set in stone, so expect the Roughriders to put up a fight this week.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saskatchewan 27, Edmonton 23
10/10 10:49:19 ET