The strategy now should be Scorched Earth. Retreat and gather strength while leaving nothing for the opponent.
This team IS playoff bound. I expect BC to catch the Riders for third. Winnipeg is in tough however. They need to go 4-1 the rest of the way. It would take epic weirdness for BOTH of them to catch the Riders even if Sask doesn't win another game especially considering that they play each other in Week 19. 2nd, 3rd or 4th place makes no real difference. 2nd means a home game, 3rd means a road game in Edmonton which would essentially be a home game and 4th means a x-over against a weaker team. So let the chips fall where they may. The Riders are playoff bound.
Now I'm not saying that the Riders should throw any games at all. They should still execute on game day to win, but they should take this opportunity to circle the wagons. They need to play Scorched Earth.
1 - Rest guys. Messam is nicked in some way. I know that it was mentioned a few weeks ago but the way he is playing and his limited role tells me that whatever is ailing him is still lingering. Let him sit one or two games. Getzlaf is obvious. He's playng so hard but he's really hurting. Sore foot, bad back. It is showing badly. Let him rest up. He is needed for the playoffs. I'm sure that there are others that we don't know about.
2 - Give as little new film as possible. Keep all your best secrets secret until the playoffs. Don't waste any new evolutions of the playbook or any trick plays for the next while. No one expects Sask to beat Calgary this week, especially Calgary. They have already rested a lot of their guys. They are getting healthy and they will be ready to give a beat down to the team that they hate the most. A loss by 40 is the same as a loss by 1. I'm not saying let them blow you out, but if you're going to beat them, do it in November. Let them get cocky and full of themselves. Same with Edmonton. Let them trash talk you in October and make them eat it in November.
This team knows how to win. This team is built for the playoffs. If they manage to win 2 or 3 games GREAT, but no one will expect a return to form in the playoffs if they limp in with 9 or 10 wins. By then they will be healthy and will have revealed no secrets and ready to smash some poor victim in the mouth.
Take this strategy week by week. Revisit it each game. Things will change. The standings will change. Guys will get healthy. Maybe Scorched Earth will only be needed for a couple of weeks, maybe all the way to the end.
The Riders have done a great job of winning games early in the year. Those wins count. Most people will tell you that the Riders' play drops off as the season goes on, this year and last year. I don't necessarily believe that. I believe that it's mostly because the Riders are better coached and prepared out of training camp than most teams. Most teams CATCH UP to the Riders level after 5 or 6 games. They are prepared to win those early games because those games count and now they have the luxury of regrouping and healing at a time of adversity. They earned this.
There's a lot of haters out there laughing it up right now. Fuck 'em. Fuck 'em all. Let them laugh for a couple more weeks. It doesn't mean a damn thing because haters don't step on the field. They'll all be crying in November.
I 100% believe in this team come November and that's all that matters.