September 28, 2023

Cauz: What’s at stake when Bombers, Argos meet

Jason Halstead/

I reject the idea that the Toronto Argonauts have “nothing to play for” and I imagine a team whose mantra all year has been to go “1-0 each and every week” would agree with me.

Until I see Cleo Lemon throwing passes to Andre Talbot as Ricky Williams is picking up a blitzing linebacker, I will believe this team is doing whatever it takes to finish the week 1-0.

With the Double Blue having wrapped up the East Division, we will see some players being rested. The coaching staff will be extra precautious when it comes to injury maintenance and new faces like receiver Rajae’ Johnson and running back Deonta McMahon will start getting more game action.

» Visit the Game Zone and play Pick ‘Em presented by Old Dutch
» Nye’s Weekly Predictor: Putting the ‘Win’ in Winnipeg
» Buy Tickets: Toronto at Winnipeg
» Power Rankings: A heavyweight tilt is upon us

Friday’s game in Winnipeg between the Argonauts and the Blue Bombers is this fascinating mix where on one level it means so much more for the home team and yet for Toronto, there is so much at stake. I don’t mean to be harsh or judgey, but anyone who tells you a contest between the two best teams in the league and a Grey Cup rematch is meaningless isn’t that much of a sports fan and needs to take their eyes away from just league standings and consider what both these organizations are playing for.

Let’s start with the easy side of this equation; the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Mike O’Shea’s squad obviously is looking for a bounce back win after their 29-23 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats two weeks ago. Their bye week must have been just a delight after that mistake-filled defeat in Steeltown. What better way for Zach Collaros to forget about his three-interception second half than by defeating the team that denied him his fourth Grey Cup?

The last thing Bombers want going into their pivotal Week 18 clash against the BC Lions is a third loss in their past four games. The West Division title is up for grabs between these two teams and a loss on Friday would put the Lions firmly in the West driver’s seat.

Finally, doesn’t it seem like it’s the revenge games where Winnipeg truly flexes their muscles? Think back to their 50-14 win over BC, that was their first meeting since the Lions dominated them 30-6 earlier in the year. Five weeks later, Winnipeg had the most convincing win of the year whipping up on the Saskatchewan Roughriders 51-6 one week after the Green and White had beaten them 32-20.

These teams haven’t met since that one-point loss in the Grey Cup and I think it’s fair to say that loss will still be on the minds of every player in that locker room.

Here is my message for coach Ryan Dinwiddie and the entire Toronto Argonauts team: please be greedy. To quote Gordon Gekko from ‘Wallstreet’ (Anyone under 40 years old, check out the YouTube clip of the famous monologue from ‘Wallstreet’) “Greed is good.” I have no idea how much Chad Kelly will be a part of the Argonauts offence, and by accounts he could sit this one out, but there is so much on the line for the Argonauts.

There is a month’s worth of regular season football to be played, now is not the time to take the foot off the gas, I don’t care what your record is. Playing the Bombers in IG Field represents the toughest opponent Toronto will face until the Eastern Final. A win in this environment against a team fighting for a divisional crown would be the biggest statement in 2023 for a team that has spent the past three months announcing themselves as the league’s best team.

Those are just some of the football reasons why this game is a big deal for Toronto, but there is also history on the line.

The best regular season version of the Argonauts was during that magical two-year run with Doug Flutie where they set a franchise record with 15 wins. This group has a chance to match and even surpass that lofty total. But why stop there?

The all-time wins total is 16 victories set by Edmonton back in 1989. I never thought I would see a team put up 17 wins in a single season, but Toronto has a chance to boldly plant their flag in CFL history!

Next up is the MOP debate. As great a year as Chad Kelly has had he still is a distant second to Zach Collaros for taking the biggest individual award in the CFL. I understand the goals of the team supersede individual ambition and what’s most important is Kelly’s health come the post-season but a 17-1 season with Kelly stuffing the stat sheet down the stretch and suddenly the gap between these two quarterbacks would begin to shrink, especially with a Kelly-led win in Winnipeg.

Yes, I know at this point Toronto is going conservative with their starting quarterback, who knows if we will see Kelly on the field. However, that doesn’t diminish what Friday night will look like for the league’s best team.

The reason Toronto has only one loss is more than just about receiving excellent quarterback play. This is a team packed with an impressive collection of elite talent. They have given up the fewest sacks in the CFL while leading the league in quarterback takedowns. No squad has more non-offensive touchdowns than Toronto. They can beat you in a Swiss army knife amount of ways.

Let’s see how the No. 1 rated rush defence handles the league’s number one rusher in Brady Oliveira.

I’m no different than the rest of you, I want to see best-on-best with all the starters on the field, but considering all the talent and winning these teams have done the past year I can’t wait to see how this game plays out no matter who is at quarterback for Toronto. One team is chasing a division, another is chasing history. That sounds like a pretty good way to spend a Friday night.

The comment system on this website is now powered by the Forums. We'd love for you to be part of the conversation; click the Start Discussion button below to register an account and join the community!