Stampeders believe Argos a tougher match-up than it looks
It would be easy to look at the Calgary Stampeders’ late-season schedule and pinpoint Friday’s matchup with the Toronto Argonauts as the easiest game.
It would be wrong to do so, if you ask absolutely anybody on the Stampeders roster or coaching staff.
Yes, the Stampeders (8-3) are — somewhat — rightfully listed as favourites against the Argos (2-9). On paper, a fully healthy 2019 Stamps team should beat this year’s Argos team.
But not all 2-9 teams are created equally. And the Stamps think the Argos might be a whole lot better than their record would indicate.
“They’re much better than their record,” said offensive lineman Derek Dennis. “Where they have trouble is overcoming mistakes. When they make mistakes, they’re monumental mistakes and when you do that, it’s very hard to win football games.
“Football, to be honest, it might be 60 plays a game and you can be great on 55 but if you bust five, those can be touchdowns and that’s just the nature of the game.”
The Stamps learned firsthand that the Argos can’t be taken lightly back in mid-July when the Toronto crew visited Calgary.
The Argos put up much bigger offensive numbers that day but were undone by the four interceptions thrown by quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson and a costly fumble by Armanti Edwards that was returned by Tre Roberson for a touchdown.
Now, you could argue that the Stampeders were shorthanded that day as they were playing without Bo Levi Mitchell, who happens to be their starting quarterback and the reigning CFL Most Outstanding Player.
But you could easily say the same thing about the Stamps heading into Friday’s matchup at BMO Field (5 p.m., TSN, 770 CHQR).
The Stampeders have Mitchell back, but are missing Reggie Begelton, the CFL’s leader in receiving yards, and middle linebacker Cory Greenwood, the league-leader in tackles.
That would make it hard to beat a bad football team, and the Stampeders do not believe the Argos are one of those.
“Tonnes of talent. I feel like they’re getting better and making plays,” said Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson. “They’re starting, in my opinion, to believe in the system and what Corey is selling over there. I think we all know they had good players, it’s just early in the year they were kind of shooting themselves in the foot.
“They have confidence right now. I know their record shouldn’t necessarily dictate that, but you can tell they’re playing with confidence, playing fast, playing aggressive, physical. In the CFL you always have a chance to stay in the mix and that’s what they’re playing for.”
With a three-game winning streak under their belt and a bye-week coming up immediately after Friday’s game, the matchup with the Argos has all the makings of a trap-game for the Stampeders.
As you would expect, the team is dismissing the possibility.
They’re playing catchup in the West Division right now and are squarely focused on catching the first-place Winnipeg Blue Bombers and securing a home date in the West Final in November.
There’s very little room for error if they’re going to accomplish that. Every game might not be must-win, but it’s close.
And the Stamps don’t believe the Argos are a team that can be overlooked.
Bethel-Thompson is second in the CFL in passing yards and first in passing touchdowns. He’s got a deep, talented receiving corps to throw the ball at, and there’s a sense that the fight between the Argos receivers and the Stamps’ best-in-the-CFL defensive backfield could be a heavyweight matchup.
That’s something players on both sides of the ball are excited about, and exactly the sort of thing that gets guys locked-in, regardless of an opponent’s record.
“All their guys, (S.J. Green) has been in the league forever, he’s an All-star. (Derel Walker) is one of the highest, if not the highest-rated receiver,” said Stamps DB Jamar Wall. “There’s nothing else that has to be said. We know what they can do. We’ve seen it in the past.
“There’s something that hasn’t clicked, but it can be at any day, any time that it starts rolling. They’re looking better, they look more confident as a group. That’s one of those things that makes you scary.”
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