2022 CFL BC Lions vs Edmonton, photo Paul Yates
Mathieu Betts and the BC Lions (11-5-0) can fulfil another major goal on their path to the Grey Cup on Friday night. A victory against the lowly Edmonton Elks (4-13-0) would lock up second place in the West and home-field advantage for the November 6th division semi-final against Calgary.
On paper, it might seem like a favourable matchup. Yet Betts knows they have to bring their A-game against an Elks squad playing their final contest of 2022.
“It’s huge. To me, it’s pretty much a must-win game for us,” said the impactful defensive end who has seven sacks this season.
“We want to get it (clinching second) over with, we want to win every single game and I feel like this is an important one. ”
The green and gold would certainly have some incentive to finish their campaign strong. Canadian Tre Ford starts at quarterback with Taylor Cornelius recovering from an injured spleen. The rookie pivot has plenty to prove as Edmonton heads into an interesting off-season.
Since the two teams last met in early August, Edmonton has utilized running back Kevin Brown quite nicely (577 yards from scrimmage in six games) while they still boast a couple of decent playmakers at receiver in Derel Walker and Dillon Mitchell. Lions legend Manny Arceneaux made his return to the Elks lineup last week as well. Moral of the story: this will be a battle for the Lions defence.
“Tre has played a little bit and he’s impressive for a young quarterback in his rookie season,” added Betts.
“Everybody knows he’s athletic. It doesn’t change much for us. We’re not changing the whole defence. Regardless of who is playing, somebody is going to be moving fast. We just want to focus on ourselves and do what we do.”
Betts and Belgian Freight Train Tibo Debaillie have represented plenty of the improved defensive line play for the Lions. As the weather gets colder and the Lions know they also have to go into Winnipeg at least once before all is said and done, that production will remain a priority.
Betts and Deabaillie also have a little extra incentive this week as they make their first return to Commonwealth Stadium since not being re-signed by the Elks.
“We had a good time there and it’s going to be different, but I’m happy to be on the good sideline with the good guys,” said Betts.
“I had a good time there and met great people. It’s going to be fun to go back there but we’re going to focus on the game and getting out of there with a win. That’s all that matters.”
Once the ball is kicked off, there will be no friends on the other side.
BC Lions (11-5-0) at Edmonton Elks (4-13-0)
Friday, October 21st
6:45 pm, The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium
TV: TSN, ESPN+
Radio: AM730, Lions Audio Network, Sirius XM 167 Canada Talks
Season Series: The Lions are going for the three-game sweep after crushing the Elks 59-15 in the regular season opener on June 11th and again 46-14 on August 6th. Both games were at BC Place.
3 Lions To Watch
#19 -WR Dominique Rhymes- has emerged in a big way with Bryan Burnham and Lucky Whitehead dealing with injuries and both on the shelf one more week. The big target is just 216 yards shy of 1,500 for the season. Still achievable with two games to play.
#90- DL Mathieu Betts– his seven sacks trail only David Menard for the team lead. Ford is a quarterback who can move when he wants to do this Friday night will present another unique challenge for the edge rusher.
#3-LB Josh Woods- even before Ben Hladik missed the second half of last week’s victory, Woods had been a solid depth contributor and has also performed well on special teams.
Heading into this week of action, the Lions lead the CFL in both net offence (392 yards per game) and fewest yards allowed (329 per game). The last time they led the league in both categories was the 2012 season.
Now 3-2 with the Lions and averaging 229 passing yards per game since his trade from Montreal, quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. has an overall record of 20-14 as a starting quarterback. Adams Jr. has a lifetime record of 2-1 against Edmonton. As a Lion, he has thrown for five touchdowns and had zero interceptions.
Terry Williams’ 341 combined yards last week was a single-game record for the Lions and the fifth-highest single-game mark in CFL history. He also leads the CFL with 2,630 combined yards this season.
Sean Whyte has been on fire heading into his return to Edmonton to face his old squad. The former Elk has made 21 of his last 22 field goal attempts and has made good on 90.9 per cent of his overall attempts this season (30 of 33).
It will have been 1,105 days since the Lions’ last visit to Commonwealth Stadium. A lost season due to the pandemic and an unbalanced 2021 schedule are the two reasons for that. October 12th, 2019 was a rather forgettable night for a Lions team that lost the game 19-6 and lost starting quarterback Mike Reilly to a wrist fracture on the game’s opening offensive series. Danny O’Brien was pressed into service on the night their 2019 playoff aspirations officially ended. It was also Edmonton’s most recent home victory. They have since dropped 15 in a row in front of their home faithful.
Barring a tie, one long streak will end. The Lions are in search of their first win in Edmonton since July 13th of 2013 when they prevailed 17-3 in an ugly contest in wet conditions. Travis Lulay threw touchdown passes to Manny Arceneaux and Andrew Harris while Reilly. Since then, the squad has dropped seven straight visits to the Alberta capital.
Defensive back Adrian Greene makes his return after missing three weeks due to a knee injury, taking the roster spot of offensive lineman Noah Zerr. The only other changes for the Lions come in the form of some shuffling on the defence. Jordan Williams slides over to starting middle linebacker with Hladik backing him up. That means Bo Lokombo moves up to starter at the WILL position. On the defensive line, Woody Baron and Nathan Cherry will swap starting positions.