LIVE STREAM PPV: CFL – Saskatchewan Roughriders @Toronto Argonauts 4p EDT( 10p CEST)

TORONTO — The East Division is the Toronto Argonauts’ to lose.

That’s the reality entering Week 16 — Marc Trestman’s Boatmen are three points clear atop the East with a record of 7-7, with four games remaining against teams two through five in the West.

A win on Saturday afternoon at BMO Field against the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders (7-6) would essentially seal the East for the Argos

Granted, that win won’t come easily: Chris Jones’s Roughriders rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat Ottawa — and help Toronto’s divisional title bid — last week, and are playing exceptional defensive football.

Given Saskatchewan’s position in the logjam that is the West Division’s playoff picture, Saturday’s contest may be the most important of Week 16.

For the second straight week, talk of running back Trent Richardson dominated Roughriders media sessions.

The former Indianapolis Colt will, it was confirmed by Head Coach Chris Jones, make his CFL debut this week against Toronto and likely split touches with Kienan LaFrance.

As for the magnitude of Saturday’s contest in Toronto, Jones toed the ‘just another game’ line.

“It’s a big game, certainly, but all games have been big,” Jones told following practice at Carleton University’s MNP Park in Ottawa. “We’ve been talking about it since Week 1 — every game means a lot in this league and there’s a ton of parity. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day.”

Saskatchewan’s lengthy injured list grew by one major name following last week’s win in Ottawa, as D-end A.C. Leonard was six-gamed after the 18-17 win.

“A.C.’s a good player — he can affect plays, run screens (and other) plays down from behind,” said Jones of Leonard, one of Saskatchewan’s top pass-rush presences.

Photo: Arthur Ward

CFL rookie Rakim Cox — a 26 year-old out of Villanova — will slide into Leonard’s roster spot, though Jones expects his veterans to pick up the load.

“Cox is going to be more of an interior player, (and) we’ll be moving one of our veteran players outside to take A.C.’s place,” said Jones. “He’s a big, athletic 280-pound guy that moves around real well.”

Other changes to the Riders lineup include the insertion of star receiver Naaman Roosevelt, who missed last week with an upper-body injury, and linebacker Derrick Moncrief.

The return of Roosevelt — Saskatchewan’s leader in receiving yards (929) and touchdown receptions (7) — after missing a single game will go a long way in helping the Riders’ struggling offence.

Elsewhere, an extended week of practice in the nation’s capital allowed Riders kicker Tyler Crapigna — an Ottawa native — some much-appreciated family time.

“To be back in familiar surroundings is like hitting the recharge button…it feels great to be back,” said Crapigna. “Family is everything — my grandpa came to the game (Friday in Ottawa) and he’s 87 years old. He braved the cold weather probably better than I did and he was there after the game.”

Richardson: “Just to get back out there will be big”

Times, while not good just yet in Argo-land, are certainly better than they were a month ago.

Having rattled off three straight wins, Toronto is the lone .500 team in the East and a single win away from clinching a home playoff game.

The last of those three wins — a 43-35 overtime win down the highway in Hamilton — featured some unconventional coaching decisions and a whole lot of confidence.

“I think it shows you the exact leadership we’re getting from Coach Trestman,” linebacker Bear Woods told “We’re not concerned with anybody else. Let’s get the ball and let’s do what we’re going to do, and that kind of mentality has gone throughout the whole team.”

That mentality, combined with CFL Top Performer-type play from running back James Wilder Jr., has helped the Argos gain some breathing room in the race for first.

“Don’t mistake his soft tone and articulate communication into softness or conservative play calling,” said the linebacker of his head coach. “We’re going out there to gut people.”

The Toronto defense that has allowed a league-low 320 yards-per-game this season was dealt a significant blow this week, however, with the news that defensive back Johnny Sears Jr. has landed on the six-game injured list.

The former Hamilton Tiger-Cat has done a little bit of everything in seven games with the Argos in 2017, averaging four tackles a night and chipping in with the occasional sack, interception or fumble recovery.

Looming even larger than the loss of Sears, however, is the late-breaking news that Marcus Ball has been placed on the six-game.

One of Toronto’s leading tacklers (64) and ball-hawks (2 INTs), Ball’s absence will be felt.

“He’s an emotional leader on this team,” said Trestman of his star linebacker. “He’s in early (and) stays late every day, a student of the game (and) because of that, guys believe in him (and) listen to him.”

Photo: Arthur Ward

 By The Numbers

5 – Wins for the Riders in their last seven outings.

Plus-10 – Turnover differential for Saskatchewan (2nd in CFL).

19 – Receptions of 20-plus yards for S.J. Green this season — the most of anybody in the league.

79 – Team-leading tackles for Toronto LB Bear Woods, who ranks fifth in the CFL.

The Skinny

Who doesn’t love fall football?

The Argos have gone on something of a miraculous run of good football the past few weeks, and are a win away from clinching a home playoff game — potentially more, if the REDBLACKS fall in BC.

The Riders, meanwhile, are in the midst of what is shaping up to be a crazy home stretch in the West Division. Chris Jones’s team is playing solid football, but the absence of A.C. Leonard could hurt on the D-line.

Both Toronto and Saskatchewan have experienced trying times over the course of the 2017 season — but both also appear to have turned a corner entering the home stretch.

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 – Saskatchewan Roughriders @Toronto Argonauts 4p EDT( 10p CEST)

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