Can the Saskatchewan Roughriders get back to the playoffs after a disastrous 2022?

Photo: Bob Butrym/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are looking to power their way back into the postseason after a dog of a campaign that spoiled the first Grey Cup played in their new stadium.

The club failed spectacularly to build off a 4-1 start before putting it in reverse to drop 11 of its last 13 games and finish up out of the playoffs at 6-12, their worst record since moving into their shiny new digs in 2017.

The Roughriders needed to remake their offence and a remake they got. A unit that allowed a league-worst 77 quarterback sacks has a new quarterback, fresh weapons in the receiving corps, and a retooled offensive line to boot.

Trevor Harris has taken over the controls and is expected to steady the ship with his quick-hitting passing ability. New offensive coordinator in Kelly Jeffrey has promised to design a system that gets the ball out fast, which will help take pressure off those charged with protecting the new face of the franchise. Derel Walker, Jake Wieneke, and Shawn Bane Jr. should also help provide a spark as part of a new-look receiving corps.

Along the offensive line, popular centre Dan Clark is gone and so are both American tackles who were expected, but failed, to bolster Saskatchewan’s pass protection. Peter Godber has come over from the B.C. Lions to anchor the new line at centre with experienced tackles Philip Blake, Jerald Hawkins, and Colin Kelly being tasked with stabilizing the edges.

Defensively, the Riders have had a full off-season to air out the stench of Garrett Marino’s idiotic behaviour. The team was never the same after the defensive tackle’s low hit that caused Ottawa Redblacks’ quarterback Jeremiah Masoli to miss the rest of the season. It was an ugly play that caused even the most diehard members of Rider Nation to wonder if the team was truly worth cheering for given its lack of discipline.

Marino was finally released following a dirty hit on Zach Collaros in the Labour Day Classic but the damage was done. The club struggled to rush the passer following his departure, though the addition of free agent Micah Johnson, who spent last season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, should help alleviate that in 2023.

A fresh new season now awaits the club. The Riders don’t have to live with the pressure of hosting the Grey Cup like they did in 2022. The team isn’t coming off back-to-back appearances in the West Final, either, which should further lower the expectations of a fervent local fan base.

On paper, Saskatchewan should be good enough to win at least four of their six games against the East Division, which should set them up nicely to compete in a West Division that lost two of its best gunslingers, Nathan Rourke and Bo Levi Mitchell, during the off-season. When you factor in the aging nature of Winnipeg’s front-seven, it seems as though the door is wide open for Saskatchewan to move up the standings.

Fortunately for bettors, the Roughriders don’t have to make the playoffs or even finish at .500 to hit the over on their season-long betting line. DraftKings has set the over-under for Saskatchewan’s regular season wins at and it seems likely that the team can reach at least nine wins and sneak into the playoffs.

It’s no gimme — nothing in professional football ever is — but whether you’re a bettor or not, Saskatchewan should hit the over for win totals in 2023.

Editor’s note: please note that you must be at least 19 years of age to legally wager on sports in Ontario.

Brendan McGuire has covered the CFL since 2006 in radio and print. Based in Regina, he has a front-row view of Rider Nation.