Week 8 Preview: Eskimos vs. Argos

The Toronto Argonauts return home to take on the Edmonton Eskimos in Week 8 of the 2013 CFL season. This will be the first time these teams have met since last year’s East Semi Final in which the Argos were victorious.

Although the Argos and Eskimos were both playoff bound a year ago, they are currently headed in opposite directions. Winners of their last three games, Toronto sits in sole possession atop the East division standings. The impressive part about their win streak is that each of those three contests were won by 16, 26 and 25 points respectively.

The visiting Eskimos come in to Toronto on a four game losing streak and find themselves in the basement of the West Division, six points behind the third place Lions.

Toronto Argonauts (4-2)

Ricky Ray has continued to improve as the season has progressed thus far. His quarterback rating of 128.6 is second in the CFL among starters and he has yet to throw an interception in six games while throwing 11 touchdown passes. Ray’s completion percentage of 76.4 is good for first in the league. As good as he’s been, he will get a boost in the receiving core with the return of Dontrelle Inman. The young receiver has emerged as one of Ray’s favourite targets, in large part because he can catch nearly every ball thrown in his vicinity. While Ray has had a great start to his career with the Argos, he is still searching for his first regular season win against his former team.

Since filling in at running back for the injured Chad Kackert, Curtis Steele has been successful at adding that second dimension to the Argos offence. That will need to continue against the Eskimos who feature one of the league’s best pass defences, but also one of the worst run defences. An underrated aspect of Steele’s game is his ability to pass protect which has been a critical component to the Argos success by keeping Ray upright.

The Argos defence has showed drastic improvement over the past three games. They are creating turnovers which is putting their potent offence in prime position to score points. The Double Blue have also allowed the second fewest points per game in the entire CFL which bodes well for them considering that the offence has scored the third most. On area where the defence struggles is in stopping the run as they have allowed the most yards per carry.

Edmonton Eskimos (1-5)

Quarterback Mike Rielly has yet to find his rhythm in his first season as a starter. It’s evident he possesses all the skills to be a good CFL quarterback but his decision making has proved costly at times. His six interceptions are the most by any signal caller in the league while he has only thrown six touchdowns. However, the Eskimos offence features the fifth ranked receiver in terms of receiving yards, Fred Stamps. When he has the ball in his hands he can make plays, therefore the Argos secondary must focus on eliminating Rielly’s top target from the equation.

As previously mentioned, the Argos run defence is currently the weakest aspect of the team and the task doesn’t get much easier as they will be responsible for containing Hugh Charles.

The loss of last year’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player, linebacker JC Sherritt is a significant one for Edmonton. Without him on the field they will be even more vulnerable against the run.

Argonauts Keys To Victory

1) Win the turnover battle

This has been a large reason why the Argos have won in a rout in three straight games, The interceptions and fumbles generated by the defence and special teams unit has given the offence great field position. With extra opportunities, Ricky Ray makes the opponent pay more often than not.

2) Establish the run game

Edmonton hasn’t proven that they can stop the run, therefore, Curtis Steele should be handed the rock early and often. With attention directed at stopping Steele, Ray will have very little trouble at finding his receivers down field.

3) Beware of the trap game

Even though a team is struggling, you should never sleep on them in the CFL. The Argos can’t take the Eskimos lightly despite their position in the standings and must be focused on earning the victory. Besides, the Argos were 0-2 against Edmonton in the regular season last year so they haven’t exactly had their number of late.

Sunday Night Football between the Argonauts and Eskimos goes August 18th at 7 pm at Rogers Centre.

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