LIVE STREAM PPV: CFL East Final – Saskatchewan Roughriders @Toronto Argonauts Sunday Nov. 19 1p ET (7p CET)

MARSHALL FERGUSON
@TSN_MARSH
TORONTO — When the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Toronto Argonauts take to the field Sunday afternoon at BMO Field, more than just a berth to the Grey Cup will be on the line.

Legacy is a term thrown around far too much in sports and usually referenced far too early in a player’s career. For two 38-year-old quarterbacks, time is winding down and the ability to change the narrative that will follow them around for decades in retirement is almost gone.

Last year, in an upset victory which almost saw him not suit up, Henry Burris created a final chapter of epic proportions. It was unlike most stories of closure and success we have ever seen in the CFL. How could that ever be bested?

Kevin Glenn has never won a Grey Cup. Burris had previously won with Calgary Stampeders. Would that make a berth and possible victory in the 2017 Grey Cup a greater accomplishment than Burris’?

That’s for the fans to decide in a couple of weeks, but the CFL’s most well-traveled pivot knows that the opportunity to play on the CFL’s grandest stage is nothing to shrug at.

“Once every five years, that’s it for me. 2007 in Winnipeg, 2012 with Hamilton and here with Saskatchewan this year. It’s rare and I try to make sure the guys know this is special,” Glenn told the media at Saturday’s day-before festivities.

On the other side is a man who, like Burris, has already won a championship. Three of them in fact. Ricky Ray’s first raising of the Grey Cup came in 2003 and he continues 14 years later to bring a championship mentality and cool-hand demeanour to any roster he is a part of.

Martese Jackson (30) of the Toronto Argonauts during the game against the Saskatchewan Roughriders at BMO Field in Toronto, ON, Saturday October 7, 2017. (Photo: Johany Jutras)

Glenn making Riders’ 2-QB system work

This game is about much more than quarterbacks though. There are the inevitable coaching connections. Namely Chris Jones, who served as defensive coordinator for the Double Blue last time the Argos hoisted the Grey Cup, while Corey Chamblin, who now holds that position in Toronto, once served in Jones’ old position.

Those two men both run their respective defencss and have exceptional talents to shape their schemes.

For Chamblin and the Argos it’s all about the return of Marcus Ball at linebacker and the role of their defensive front seven in getting after Kevin Glenn. If Glenn is forced to use his mobility, he becomes a lesser quarterback than when able to operative actively from within the pocket.

Names like Laing, Wynn, Butler and Woods will be sure to get pressure early on against the Riders’ beat up and realigned offensive line. The question becomes how will Saskatchewan answer in the second and third quarters to evolve in game and protect their all important veteran passer?

For Jones’ defense there is no more important piece than Willie Jefferson, who, despite being part of a three-man rush more than any other player in the CFL, has consistently been amongst the league’s greatest pass rushers from June to November.

Ed Gainey continues to roam the boundary halfback position and gives Jones’ defense the ability to be aggressive on first down while staying creative on second down in substitution packages with multiple pass covering linebackers listed on the Riders’ depth chart for Sunday.

No one facet of either the Argos or Riders will earn them a trip to the Grey Cup. Each team will require a total team effort to win and three factors will play a bigger role than any other.

First, first down efficiency. Ricky Ray and Marc Trestman’s offensive attack is built on short passes being equivalent to running plays and the completion percentage of Ray on first down will tell you a lot about how this game unfolds.

Second, turnover differential. Winning a football game when losing the turnover battle is rare and Ottawa showed last week just how damaging being on the negative side of that equation can be. Saskatchewan is an emotionally charged group that thrives off turnovers. Toronto has to avoid falling into a similar trap to their division brethren.

Finally, score zone production. If the Riders can finish in the score zone, they’ll have a significantly increased chance of winning. This season, when the Riders produce inside their opponents’ 30-yard-line, they are near unstoppable.

The Riders are a team built on brash emotion, ebbs and flows. The Argos a group of anti-dramatic steadiness. Only one style will get the opportunity to showcase itself on the CFL’s biggest stage. Perhaps most importantly, only one legendary CFL quarterback will get the chance to improve their standing in the all-time record books.

By the numbers:

10 and 13 — Point deficits erased by the Riders, respectively, to win their two regular season meetings with the Argos. Saskatchewan outscored Toronto by a combined 38 to 18 in the second half and won after trailing each game at half-time.

+15 — The Riders’ turnover differential this season, including the Eastern Semi-Final. The Argos’ turnover differential this season was minus-three.

74% — Ricky Ray’s completion percentage in two games against the Riders. Ray threw for 300-plus yards in both games, adding five total touchdown passes.

5 — Wire-to-wire wins for the Riders in 2017, in which they didn’t trail once the entire game.

8 — Division Finals appearances between Chris Jones and Marc Trestman over their last 10 seasons.

AFI, Yare Media and the CFL

American Football International is collaborating with Yare Media and the Canadian Football League to present 2017 CFL games live. This is more than a livestream. This is a stream of the top flight TSN network television broadcast.

If you can’t watch it live, each game is available for viewing through the remainder of the season.

LIVE STREAM PPV: CFL Playoffs – Saskatchewan Roughriders @Toronto Argonauts Sunday Nov. 19 1p ET (7p CET)

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