Eskimos heavily favoured

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:56 AM ET

The Edmonton Eskimos are 2.5-point favourites to beat Saskatchewan tomorrow night.

Considering the Esks' history against the Riders at Commonwealth Stadium - the venue for this game - the Green and Gold should be much bigger favourites.

Consider these stats:

- Edmonton has an eight-game regular-season winning streak at home against the Riders. It dates all the way back to 2000. Saskatchewan's last regular-season win here was almost 2,450 days ago.

- As a starting QB, Edmonton's Ricky Ray has never lost to the Riders in his career at Commonwealth Stadium. He's 5-0 in the regular season and 1-0 in the post-season.

- Overall - including home and away - Edmonton has won the last four meetings against the Green and White. The last 'W' on the board for the Roughies against Edmonton was 670 days ago in Regina (Sept. 18, 2005).

"I have felt pretty comfortable with what they (the Riders) do defensively in the past," said Ray.

"It is not to say you can get a read on them but they were just kind of a line up kind of a defence, where they just out-executed you - (if) they were in the right spots. For me as a quarterback, some of the stuff I can kind of get used to that.

"They have a lot of different guys this year. They are bringing some pressure from some different looks."

That is the main point coming from Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia, too.

"They are a pain on the defensive side of the ball," said Maciocia of the Riders. "They do so many things as far as stunts. They will bring halfbacks, they will bring the free safety down - leading you to believe they are pressuring and then he will bail (back into coverage).

"And they have got some serious team speed on that side of the ball.

"Probably more team speed than I have seen them have in the last five years."

For the first time in his career, defensive back Omarr Morgan is on the other side of this battle after joining the Esks in the off-season.

"The offensive guys (in Regina) sometimes complain about the grass (at Commonwealth Stadium)," said Morgan. "But actually it is almost like a home game (coming to Edmonton). If you are on that side of the field, the crowd is so loud (with Rider fans)."

Being a key divisional game this early in the season, fullback Mike Maurer likely has the best attitude in the locker-room on facing the Riders.

"The thing that I think about is that the last three games have been decided by six points or less," said Maurer.

"Even though we have been successful, they have been close games. We have to stick to our assignments."

The Green and Gold also have to avoid any bad karma from July 20. That is the exact date of the "Milt Meltdown" last year - the Milt Stegall 100-yard TD catch on the last play of the game that gave Winnipeg a victory.


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