BOMBERS GAME DAY: Bombers defence seeking Banjo Bowl redemption after late-game lapse in Labour Day Classic
Winnipeg Blue Bombers (8-3) vs. Saskatchewan Roughriders (7-3), Saturday, 3 p.m. IG Field. TV: TSN, RADIO: CJOB680
WEATHER REPORT: Mostly cloudy, 16 C, wind NE 15
THE LINE: Bombers by 2.5
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
The Bombers are still reeling after the Riders drove 87 yards in the final three minutes to score the winning field goal last week in Regina. After a strong performance for most of the game, the Bombers defence wilted at the wrong time and the Riders came away with a 19-17 victory. The Bombers defenders, especially, want redemption and believe their home crowd can help them turn the tables.
The Bombers defensive line has been very strong this season and did a decent job of making Riders quarterback Cody Fajardo look uncomfortable last week. However, Fajardo still passed for 300 yards and at times seemed to have no trouble finding wide-open receivers. Fajardo is looking more and more like the real deal and he can beat teams with his arm and his legs.
Bombers quarterback Chris Streveler is now 1-1 this season as a starter and he’s done it on pure guts and toughness. He has proven time and again that he can run for tough yards and move the chains, but the Bombers simply have to get more out of their passing game. Streveler’s accuracy, or lack thereof, is a concern and his inability to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers has hampered the Bombers.
KEEP ON POUNDING
Even with Andrew Harris out of the lineup, the Bombers still ran the football effectively against the Riders last week (186 yards). So far, it seems no defence can stop this rushing attack, which now features running back Johnny Augustine, who had 98 yards in his first CFL start last week, and Streveler. It’s possible newcomer Larry Rose III could see some touches at tailback as well.
Jon Ryan of the Riders had an exceptional game last week, punting for a 55.4-yard average and helping the Riders win the field position game. Justin Medlock of the Bombers, normally a precise directional punter, had an off game and now will be working with a new long-snapper after his long-time battery mate Chad Rempel was injured in Regina. This could be a big edge for the Riders again.
INSIDE THE GAME
The Bombers made two significant changes to their lineup, with injuries forcing WR Lucky Whitehead and long-snapper Chad Rempel out. They’ll be replaced by WR Rasheed Bailey and LS Maxime Latour, just signed this week from the University of Sherbrooke … SB Nic Demski is a game-time decision and could be replaced by Daniel Petermann … The Riders are making no changes to their lineup … The Bombers are on an eight-game home winning streak and are 5-0 at IG Field this year, while the Riders are on a six-game winning streak overall … Since the game was named the Banjo Bowl in 2003, the Bombers have won eight of 15 games … In the 15 years of the Labour Day Classic-Banjo Bowl combination, the Riders have swept the games seven times, the Bombers have swept twice and the other six were splits … Bombers DT Jake Thomas has played in more Banjo Bowls than any other player in the game. This will be his seventh … Since running back Andrew Harris joined the Bombers in 2016, he has missed only four games. The Bombers are 1-3 in those games. Harris will sit out the second game of a two-game performance-enhancing drug suspension on Saturday.
THE KEY MATCHUP
Bombers DE Willie Jefferson vs. Riders DE Charleston Hughes
This is more a big picture matchup than in-game as the two will never face one another. However, they are the two most dominant defensive ends in the CFL right now and are both strong candidates for the league’s most outstanding defensive player award. Hughes leads the league with 12 sacks, while Jefferson is second with nine and also leads the league with nine pass knockdowns. They are both havoc-wreakers and game-breakers who make life miserable for opposing offensive linemen.
WPG 21, SASK 18 The Bombers came very close to beating the Riders last week in the most hostile of environments, with no Matt Nichols and no Andrew Harris. The Bombers defence dominated other than on one drive and should do so again with the home crowd behind it.
29.1 (2nd) Points for 28.3 (3rd)
19.8 (2nd) Points against 21.8 (4th)
145 (1st) Rush yards 116 (3rd)
207 (9th) Pass yards 261 (5th)
338 (7th) Net yards 365 (3rd)
326 (3rd) Yards allowed 284(2nd)