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CFL Preview - Edmonton (2-9) at Winnipeg (2-9)

From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Friday, September 20, 8:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: In a battle of division cellar dwellers, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers get together with the Edmonton Eskimos on Friday night at Investors Group Field.

These same two squads met in Edmonton last weekend where the hosts captured a comfortable 25-7 victory, snapping an eight-game slide in the process and registering their first home win of 2013. The Eskimos, who are still just 1-4 on the road this season, leaned heavily on quarterback Mike Reilly who threw a pair of touchdown passes to Fred Stamps and another to Adarius Bowman in the triumph.

Reilly, who was named the CFL Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts, finished the outing 16-of-25 for 196 yards and shook off three sacks while still leading all rushers with 113 yards on nine carriers.

Over on the other side for the Blue Bombers, the quarterback picture wasn't nearly as bright with Max Hall and Justin Goltz combining to take the majority of the snaps. Import quarterback Jason Boltus was credited with one pass attempt, but it was primarily Hall and Goltz who handled the action as they combined to convert 20-of-32 attempts for 214 yards and a pair of interceptions. Goltz was also sacked four times.

Despite coming up with a modest 322 yards of total offense, the Blue Bombers did little to justify even being in contention against Edmonton. The only points of the contest for Winnipeg, which has yet to nail down a starting quarterback for this week, came from Sandro DeAngelis who knocked through a pair of field goals in the second and fourth quarters and also added a single in the third.

As was the case last week, the offense for the Blue Bombers is the weakest in the CFL, producing just 20.4 ppg. The team may have the most rushing touchdowns with 15, but this is a league that is built and sustained on passing and in that department the Bombers are sorely lacking with a mere five passing TDs. Only one other team (Montreal) has fewer than 20 passing majors at this stage of the season, and the Alouettes have good reason for that with their star quarterback on the injured list.

The Blue Bombers thought they had a top-notch quarterback for the future in Buck Pierce, but he always seemed to be injured and was just recently traded to British Columbia, which means Winnipeg is preparing to weather the rest of the season with what it has on the roster.

What's on the Winnipeg roster and depth chart is a group of quarterbacks that has very little experience, and even less success, in the CFL. Goltz, who has been a Bomber since 2010, has thrown for less than 1,000 yards and has more INTs (seven) than TDs (three), while Hall had great success at BYU and had some opportunities in the NFL but has attempted a total of just 54 passes north of the border.

In the case of Reilly, he is finally starting to come into his own and making it a bit easier to forget that Ricky Ray once played for this team before being traded away to the Argonauts. Reilly is fourth in the league in passing yards with 2,667 and is tied for fourth with 19 passing scores, but with an interception percentage of 3.1, Reilly is still trying to boost his efficiency rating to a more respectable level.

Making the road a little less bumpy for Reilly is Stamps who is now the league leader in receiving yards with 821 on 44 catches. Stamps is also tops in receiving touchdowns as well with nine. Cary Koch had been a solid second option for Reilly and the Eskimos, but he's currently on the nine-game injured list, which means Nate Coehoorn has to up his production and find a way to finally get into the end zone.

A bigger challenge for Reilly right now is to relinquish his role as the top ground gainer for the Eskimos, having produced 530 yards on 55 carries. Hugh Charles (409 yards, 78 attempts) might not be averaging the same lofty yards per carry as the signal caller, but he's better built to absorb hits down the field. Should Reilly suffer a significant injury, while it won't change the outcome of the season, it could slow down the growth of the Esks at this point.

With the victory last weekend, the Eskimos now lead the all-time series between the squads by a count of 93-80-3, considering only regular-season matchups dating back to 1938.

With Winnipeg floundering, trying desperately to find an identity on offense, expect to see Edmonton feed off last week's win and actually put together a winning streak.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Edmonton 27, Winnipeg 24

09/18 11:05:15 ET

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