The betting line still suggests the Argos are underdogs, but common sense suggests otherwise.
The B.C. Lions arrive in Toronto dragging back-to-back losses with them and perhaps most crucial, a change in their starting quarterback that was dictated by injury.
Casey Printers finally gave in to his injuries and will sit out at the suggestion of team doctors. His absence leaves the Lions offence in the hands of a rather green Travis Lulay.
The fact the line didn’t move when the change was made probably speaks more to the lack of attention Vegas and the offshore lines pay to the CFL than it does to the expected impact such a key change can have.
In any event, this is the first weekend the Argos head into a game with the majority of on-lookers actually expecting them to win.
A few of the Argo veterans who were around for those winning years before the team went in the dumper in 2008 and 2009 when wins were expected from both inside and outside the dressing room, said yesterday’s it’s a nice feeling to have again, but nothing that will affect them in any adverse way.
In fact it won’t change them in any way.
“It doesn’t change anything,” fullback Jeff Johnson said. “Sure it’s a great feeling, but at the beginning of the year they said we were the worst team and we’d be lucky if we won one game. We have proved those naysayers wrong. We are the favourites now, but it doesn’t change the mentality. We know what we have in the locker room and we just want to win every game. It’s a good feeling because it’s something we have missed the past two years. We just have to continue to build on it.”
As for any chance of coming in over-confident or some of the younger Argos needing a reminder that 2-1 is a long way from a successful season, Johnson said that’s not even a possibility.
“We made enough mistakes last week that showed us we were fortunate to end up with that win,” Johnson said of the three-point victory over Calgary. “The game film spoke for itself. If we had dominated them then maybe we would have to say something.”
Johnson’s message is the veterans on this team realize they are still a work in progress and the rookies know it too.
Kevin Eiben, a veteran from the Argos defensive side of the ball, said it is way too early to make any assessment of what the Argos are or what they are not.
“We haven’t really earned anything yet,” Eiben said. “We’ve won two games. It’s still early. We have to make sure we are prepared.”
And on that count, the Argos to a man are singing the same tune.
Head coach Jim Barker has eliminated the possibility of another team’s move even being able to impact the Argos because he refuses to let anything the opposition does, affect his players.
“We don’t put any added pressure on ourselves because we understand it’s all about us,” quarterback Cleo Lemon said. “We’ve done a good job of coming in this week, being mentally focussed and prepared to play and paying attention to all the detail we have to.”
These Argos believe whatever the other team does, if they take care of themselves, they can prevail.
A change in the starting quarterback of the opposition has no more meaning to them than had half the team come down with a case of the swine flu and were unable to play.
Worry about yourself. Control what you can control. Ignore what you can’t.
That is Barker’s philosophy and four games into the season it’s already ingrained in every one of his players.