Will Rayzor’s edge prove enough for Argos?

There's little dispute the Toronto Argonauts are a better team with Ricky Ray. The splashy off-season trade they made to get him was so notable because it offered the Argonauts something they hadn't seen in a long while, a top-notch quarterback. Thus far, Ray has lived up to that hype, throwing for 3,754 yards and 16 touchdowns with 10 interceptions and a 67.8 per cent completion mark, and although the Argos have occasionally survived in his absence, they certainly haven't thrivedwithout him. The question remains, though: is Ray's presence alone enough of an edge to give the Argos a win in Saskatchewan Saturday (4 p.m. Eastern, TSN/ESPN3)?

If you go strictly by last week's performance, the clear answer would be "No." Ray played brilliantly in his return from injury, completing 20 of 33 passes (60.6 per cent) for 383 yards and four touchdowns against Winnipeg, but that wasn't enough to give the Argonauts a win at home against a then 4-11 club. That doesn't auger well for their chances on the road in Regina Saturday against a 8-8 Saskatchewan team that's been much more impressive this year. The Riders can also run the ball (heading into this week, they were second in rushing first downs with 119, and third in rushing yards per game with 116.6), thanks primarily to the efforts of Kory Sheets (second in the CFL in rushing yards with 1,157 heading into Saturday's action). That doesn't bode well for a Toronto defence that gave up 260 rushing yards to Winnipeg last week and had allowed the second-most (117.2) rushing yards per game this year heading into this week.

Still, the feelings about the Argonauts are far more optimistic whenever Ray is under centre, and for good reason. With Ray, they have a genuinely impressive aerial attack. Without him, they really don't; Jarious Jackson has stepped up at times, but he can't air the ball out consistently as many times per game as Ray can. With Ray taking the snaps, though, there's the feeling that this team can put up plenty of points. They'll certainly have plenty of motivation Saturday, as a victory would clinch second place in the East for them, giving them not just a playoff berth but a home playoff date regardless of what happens next week against Hamilton. It's definitely not going to be easy to knock off the Roughriders at home, as they're 5-3 there and 3-5 on the road, but it's certainly possible, especially as it may not be in Saskatchewan's best interests to win. The key for an Argonauts' victory will be the man under centre, though. A superlative performance from Ray may not be sufficient for a win on its own, and it definitely wasn't last week against the Bombers, but having the Rayzor's edge could be just what Toronto needs to knock off the Riders Saturday.

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