VANCOUVER — The BC Lions should have plenty of motivation when they welcome the Calgary Stampeders to BC Place on Saturday night.
Not only is it a divisional game with a four-point swing, the Lions were defeated by Winnipeg 50-14 last week and will want to bounce back with a win.
They’ll see a Stampeders team coming in riding high as they trampled the previously unbeaten Toronto Argonauts 20-7 in Week 9.
This will be the second meeting of the season between the two teams after the Lions downed the Stamps in Week 1, 25-15.
A strong suit of the team all season long, the Leos defence is facing its first real bout of adversity after struggling against both the run and pass games last week.
Defensive lineman Mathieu Betts leads a front that failed to record a sack and coughed up 129 yards on the ground, both rarity’s given the team’s 25 sacks and second fewest rushing yards allowed.
Betts still leads the league with 10 sacks and is tasked with shutting down Ka’Deem Carey, who is likely to return to the lineup after being sidelined since the two team’s Week 1 matchup with a foot injury (he is listed as a game time decision). Carey and Dedrick Mills, who’s coming off a 137-yard performance, will provide a proven run game.
The Lions pass defence also ranks in the top half of the league, but were picked apart for 447 yards by the Blue Bombers, something that likely isn’t sitting well among veterans T.J. Lee, Garry Peters and Quincy Mauger. Their secondary will focus on veteran Reggie Begelton and Tre Odoms-Dukes, who returns to the lineup this week after missing Week 9’s contest. The first time the two met, the Lions were able to hold the Stamps to 165 passing yards.
The offence will see starting quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. back under centre after he missed the past few weeks with injury. The return comes at a perfect time for head coach Rick Campbell’s team as Dane Evans exited their loss to the Bombers and is not dressing.
Top receiver Dominique Rhymes, who leads the league with five touchdowns, is out with a banged up knee. Luckily, Justin McInnis has made big plays all season with 17.5 yards per catch. Keon Hatcher and Lucky Whitehead will also be top targets and give Adams Jr. plenty of options.
With the Stamps coming off a stout performance stopping the run against the Argos, running back Taquan Mizzell Sir. needs to be at his best to take plays off the pass game. He had 81 yards against the Stamps front in Week 1.
Lions head coach Rick Campbell acknowledges his team is in the midst of a tough stretch against West Division teams.
“We’re going to get everybody’s best shot,” Campbell told . “It’s a tough division and people are chasing us other than Winnipeg. We have to be at our best to beat anyone.We don’t win by showing up, we win by playing really good football for 60 minutes and grinding out wins. We’re obviously looking to get back to that.”
If nothing else, last week’s performance proves the Stampeders have the skill to beat anyone in the league.
With a strong run game that is a point of emphasis for the Lions defence, quarterback Jake Maier has a chance to take another step forward in a pass game averaging 260.6 yards per game. Maier threw for only 149 yards against the Argos but completed 22 of his 24 passes, a rate that will surely lead to success if it can be duplicated.
Both Mike Moore and Mike Rose are coming off a sack and putting pressure on the offensive line could force Adams Jr. into bad decisions as he tries to get comfortable being back in the pocket.
Allowing the second-fewest pass yards per game, the Stamps secondary aim to provide considerable momentum by capitalizing on mistakes like Jonathan Moxey did against the Argos when he recorded an interception.
Head coach Craig Dickenson feels good about his team’s ability to play different styles and come away on the right side of the win column.
“We’re getting better, we’ve won games and played football in different manners,” Dickenson told .
“We’ve owned the line of scrimmage, we’ve looked explosive in the pass game. Now can we put it all together and limit mistakes? We’re doing some good things but we have a long way to go and our guys know in order to get to where we want to it has to be a week-by-week progression. We have to find ways to get better.”
The Lions are out to show their most recent loss was nothing more than a bad game.
On the other side of the field, the Stamps can prove they’re a real threat by knocking off back-to-back top teams.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET and can be seen on TSN, CFL+ and CBS Sports.