BOMBERS GAMEDAY: A perfect balance? Bombers don't allow touchdowns and Argos don't score them
Winnipeg Blue Bombers (3-0) vs. Toronto Argonauts (0-3), Friday, 7:30 p.m. IG Field. TV: TSN, RADIO: CJOB680
WEATHER REPORT: Sunny, 23 C, Wind NW 16
THE LINE: Bombers by 12.5
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
The Bombers can’t keep this going all season, can they? Winnipeg has scored 12 offensive touchdowns in three games and the defence has allowed only one touchdown. You can’t get a balance much better than that. This week they’ll play a team that has scored only three offensive touchdowns and has given up 11. On paper, it’s a mismatch.
NO BIGGIE? NO PROBLEM
The Bombers played without middle linebacker Adam Bighill, the CFL’s most outstanding defensive player last season, last week in Ottawa, and had their best defensive performance of the year. Kyrie Wilson stepped in and performed well in the middle and Canadian Jesse Briggs held the fort at weak-side linebacker. The defence allowed just 258 total yards and only eight rushing yards against the Redblacks and will look to repeat that performance Friday, though Bighill is on the roster and will be a game-time decision.
The Bombers receiving corps has been as advertised this season. It has a lot of weapons and the quarterbacks are trying to use all of them. Five different receivers have caught touchdown passes and six players have been targeted between 11 and 15 times. Even with Chris Matthews out due to a finger injury, there are a lot of options there for Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols.
ALIGN THE STARS
McLeod Bethel-Thompson gets his second straight start for the Argos and will look to improve on a 2-7 career mark. He can help himself a lot by getting the ball more frequently to big-play receivers Derel Walker and S.J. Green. Walker has just seven catches and no touchdowns in three games after coming over from Edmonton as a big-money free agent.
SHUT DOWN DEFENCE
The Bombers defence hasn’t allowed a touchdown in the last two games and in the last nine quarters overall. The Bombers have never gone three straight games without allowing a touchdown by the opposing offence and their record for quarters without a touchdown allowed by the defence is 13, across four games. This is a solid group that will make life miserable for the Argos.
INSIDE THE GAME
The Bombers are looking to improve to 4-0 for the first time since 2003 and just the sixth time in team history … Only five times in CFL history has an 0-3 team beaten a 3-0 team and it has happened only once in the last 44 years. That was in 2011 when the Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the Montreal Alouettes … Former Saskatchewan K Tyler Crapigna takes over for the Argos this week from Drew Brown. He has an 86.4% career mark kicking field goals but has only ever attempted one at IG Field … Chris Rainey of the Argos recorded his seventh career return touchdown last week and is always a dangerous threat … Former Bombers LB Ian Wild recorded 13 tackles for the Argos last week and is one of only four players in CFL history to have done that twice in his career. The others are Solomon Elimimian (five times), Tracey Graveley and Calvin Tiggle.
THE KEY MATCHUP
Bombers Willie Jefferson vs. Argos McLeod Bethel-Thomson
Jefferson wreaked havoc on Dominique Davis and the Ottawa Redblacks last week and, while he only had one sack, he was a disruptive force all night. Bethel-Thompson was a bright spot for the Argos in their loss to the Lions last week, throwing for 303 yards and a touchdown, with one interception. He can give the Argos a chance if he gets some time to throw, but the Bombers defensive front, led by Jefferson, is lethal.
WPG 33, TOR 14 All signs point to the Bombers handling this one easily, but don’t expect the Argos to be pushovers. They have a lot of pride and should make this a game for a while, at least until the Bombers pull away. Winnipeg has the edge in all areas.
12.7 (9th) Points for 30 (T4th)
38 (9th) Points against 19.3 (T1st)
50 (9th) Rush yards 134 (2nd)
287 (5th) Pass yards 229 (8th)
398 (9th) Net yards 353 (T5th)
512 (8th) Yards allowed 331 (2nd)