BOMBERS GAMEDAY: After humbling loss, Bombers look to rebound against Grey Cup champion Stampeders
TED WYMAN’S BOMBERS VS STAMPEDERS GAMEDAY
Winnipeg Blue Bombers (5-2) vs. Calgary Stampeders (5-2), Thursday, 7:30 p.m. IG Field. TV: TSN, RADIO: CJOB680
WEATHER REPORT: Mainly Sunny, 23 C, Wind NW 22
THE LINE: Bombers by 7.5
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
RED HOT HARRIS
Bombers running back Andrew Harris is back in the league rushing lead (54 yards ahead of Montreal’s William Stanback) after he ran for 152 yards last week in a loss at Toronto. Usually, when Harris runs for 100-plus you can put a win in the bank for the Bombers. As long as he gets a bit of air support this time, Harris can carry the Bombers to victory.
Last week the Stampeders won despite deficits in time of possession, net offence, first downs and big plays. They were helped immensely by the terrific special teams work of Terry Williams, who ran back a kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown and had 241 total return yards. He’ll be a handful for the Bombers to contend with.
RUSH TO JUDGEMENT
The Bombers have the best rush defence in the CFL (67.9 yards per game), while the Stamps have the eighth best rushing attack (70.3 yards per game). That could make life miserable for the visitors and is likely to put quarterback Nick Arbuckle into passing mode for much of the game. The Bombers defensive line, led by end Willie Jefferson, will look to feast.
KEEP FOOT ON GAS
The Bombers blew a 20-point lead last week in Toronto and lost 28-27. It tied a team record for the largest lead blown. The Bombers need to keep their focus and keep their foot on the gas for 60 minutes. If they can lose focus and lose to the worst team in the league, imagine what can happen against a team like the Stamps.
The Stampeders and Bombers are No. 1 and No. 2 in the CFL in takeaways, with Calgary forcing 22 turnovers so far and Winnipeg forcing 20. Calgary has scored 74 points off turnovers, while the Bombers have scored just 34. Individually, the big stars in the takeaway department have been Calgary DB Tre Roberson and Winnipeg CB Winston Rose. Both have five interceptions this season and are tied for the league lead and both have one touchdown.
INSIDE THE GAME
This is the first time Winnipeg and Calgary will play for sole possession of first place this deep into the season since 1982 … The Bombers have won six straight home games and are looking to make it seven, which is is something they haven’t done since 2002-03 … This is the seventh consecutive season in which the Stamps have won at least five of their first seven games … The Bombers are the least penalized team in the CFL with 54 penalties through seven games. The Stampeders are third in the league with 60 penalties … This is the Bombers first game against a West Division opponent in 42 days … Winnipeg has won two of the last three meetings with the Stampeders. Before that, Calgary went 14-1 between 2011 and 2017 … The Bombers will be without starting defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat and have added four new players to the lineup: Kick returner Janarion Grant, national receiver Malcolm Williams, halfback Mercy Maston and linebacker Korey Jones … The Stamps will have Nate Holley making his first start at weak-side linebacker with Winton McManis out with injury. Left guard Shane Bergman returns to the lineup after missing last week’s game.
THE KEY MATCHUP
Bombers QB Matt Nichols vs. Stamps QB Nick Arbuckle
Despite playing all but two games without 2019 MOP Bo Levi Mitchell, the Stamps have the third most passing yards in the CFL. That’s thanks to the strong performance of backup Arbuckle at quarterback. However, the Bombers have a veteran presence in Nichols, who leads the league with 14 touchdown passes but rarely puts up big yardage totals (just one 300-yard passing game in his last 26 starts). This is a case where Nichols absolutely needs to be the better quarterback if the Bombers want to have a chance to win. He has a 1-8 record all-time against Calgary.
WPG 28, CGY 25 The Bombers are determined to use home-field advantage to re-establish themselves as the team to beat in the West. They have the weapons to do it, leading Calgary in most statistical categories, but will have to play their best game of the season against the charging Stampeders.
27.3 (4th) Points for 30.1 (2nd)
22.0 (4th) Points against 18.7 (2nd)
70 (8th) Rush yards 140 (2nd)
290 (3rd) Pass yards 238 (6th)
334 (7th) Net yards 368 (3rd)
327 (4th) Yards allowed 319 (3rd)
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