Cambridge seems to be a on a bit of a roll as of late and nothing will stop you in your tracks like a trip to Essex. The Lions have been an offense that has always been able to get push and yards in the run game but has showed inconsistency and lack of deep threat in the pass game. Nothing changed against Guelph they ran the ball very well, although it was #24 Adrian Turner who had 96 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 13 carries; goes to show that the Lions offensive line is the real deal and any feasible back can be successful behind them. The Cambridge passing game is very vanilla and doesn't attack teams deep down the field or down the field at all - if the Lions don't find someone to make big plays for them it could be the same old story. On defense, the Lions have been stellar all year long and continue to be one of the best groups in the league, when you force teams to be one dimensional it makes playing defense much easier. The Lions get tackles from every level and everyone on the field, Jared Beeksma is still their leader but with him out for a little bit it didn't seem to effect this experienced Lions defense. This week against Essex stopping the run and forcing turnovers in the pass game will be crucial for the Lions this week.
The Essex Ravens lost this past week at home to Hamilton in a great football game, its very rare Essex loses 2 in a row especially at home. The Ravens offense as everyone knows is looking to run the football and if they are unsuccessful in doing so early on in the game they sometimes struggle. Michael Beale had a good game last week for the Ravens and sometimes I wonder if this run first system doesn't allow for good QBs to make plays downfield or at all. The Essex run game was not up to par as it usually is and it forced Beale to pass the ball more than the Ravens coaches would've liked, if the Ravens don't find their guy it could be a tough stretch into playoffs. Since Savoni went down its been a search for his replacement and they have been unable to find a guy to carry the work load, the Ravens WRs had multiple guys step up and make plays down field when they were given the chance that will need to continue. On defense Essex was way to vulnerable to the pass, they completely eliminated the Ticats run game and should have never given up as many points and yards through the air as they did. This Ravens defense will need to continue their tough play in the front 7 because its no surprise the Lions will want to run the football and struggle if they cannot do so. On the backend look for the Ravens to ask more out of their DBs; every defensive backfield gives up plays but most of them make plays as well.
Essex doesn't lose at home very often and to lose twice at home in two weeks is nearly unheard of, look for the Ravens defense to slow down the Lions run game and make a few more plays in the pass game to win a close one.
Predicted outcome: Ravens 26 – Lions 21
The Kingston Grenadiers won this past week with an offensive outburst early and rode the wave to a big 46-36 win. Their offense was hot early and were able to come out firing. Keegan Wardhaugh got back on track and was running the football at a high level. This week against Mississauga it will be crucial to keep their run game going because the Warriors have dangerous players at DB. The Grens pass game was still not as good as it could be and will always be looking to improve - but a bright spot about their past game is how well they ran the ball and the push that the big boys up front got. Kingston needs to find a way to be more explosive on offense and beat teams deep down field, their inconsistency at the QB position sometimes makes that difficult but it will be up to Maracle to get on track and lead this team to big wins down the stretch. The Grens won't need to score a lot of points this week but they will need to have a better pass game this weekend. On defense, early in the game the Grens forced turnovers and punts from the Cumberland offense and it allowed their own offense to march down the field getting multiple scores in the process. That being said, down the stretch of the game the Grens gave up way too many yards through the air, this week against the Warriors they will need to continue the success their front 7 has been having. The Warriors will want to run the football and if Kingston can slow that down early it will allow for their DBs to make some plays and get off the field, Mississauga struggles throwing the ball and that plays into the Grens advantage.
The Warriors had another tough day at the office this past weekend losing what some would have called a surprising game to the Durham Dolphins. Mississauga attempted to get their run game going but were unable to do so constantly being put in 2nd and long situations forcing their backup QB to throw the ball. I hope Brophy is okay and if he can play this week that will be a huge upgrade and necessity this week in a must win against the Grens, if he is not able to play this week the Warriors coaching staff will need to find a way to jump start this run game and find some sort of passing attack along the way. On defense, the Warriors have been good pretty much all year long but haven't had much help from their offensive teammates, if this continues it could be another long game. That being said Mississauga will need to improve in the run game, they allowed over 130+ rushing yards to Durham and judging how Wardhaugh ran for the Grens last week they will need to key in on him. On the backend and everywhere on defense really it is a necessity that they find ways to get turnovers, any extra possession their offense can get will be a huge turning point. If the Warriors defense can have the best game of their season they could win this game strictly on that alone.
I think both teams struggle on offense but I think the Grens have a few more plays up their sleeve from the QB position. If the Warriors defense gets a score or a big play they could win this game. Grens win in the East GOTW.
Predicted outcome: Grens 17 – Warriors 10