CFL Preview - Winnipeg (3-1) at British Columbia (2-2)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Friday, July 25, 10 p.m. (ET).
GAME NOTES: Seeking to surpass their entire win total from 2013, the Winnipeg
Blue Bombers give it another go on Friday night when they clash with the
British Columbia Lions at BC Place.
Last year, the Blue Bombers were the weakest team in the CFL, logging just
three wins in 18 opportunities. This time around, Winnipeg matched that win
total in the first three games, thanks to victories over Toronto, Ottawa and
Montreal. The squad had a chance to register its fourth win of the season
during Week 4 action, but ended up on the wrong side of a devastating 26-3
decision versus Edmonton at home.
Now sitting in third place in the West Division standings behind the Eskimos
and Calgary, the last two undefeated clubs in the CFL, the Bombers were
brought back to reality when they were limited to just 11 first downs and 241
yards of total offense. If not for kicker Lirim Hajrullahu and his 22-yard
field goal in the second quarter, the outing would have been even more
Controlling the action for less than 22 minutes, Winnipeg quarterback Drew
Willy was roughed up quite a bit by the Eskimos as he converted just 14-of-27
passes for 180 yards and an interception, not to mention being sacked five
times and having that lone pick returned for a touchdown for the first points
of the match in the opening frame.
Defensively, Johnny Sears Jr. led all tacklers with eight stops, and rookie
defensive back Bruce Johnson made the first interception of his career.
As for the Lions, they've begun to bounce back after starting off with
consecutive defeats against Edmonton and Montreal. The squad stepped up with a
26-13 victory at Saskatchewan a couple weeks back, and then enacted some
revenge against the Alouettes last weekend with a resounding 41-5 thrashing at
home, a far cry from the 24-9 loss to the Als on the road in Week 2.
Montreal didn't stand a chance as the BC defense limited the visitors to a
mere seven first downs and a paltry 153 yards of total offense. Outside of the
14 penalties for a loss of 130 yards, almost everything went right for the
Lions as they generated a hefty 526 yards of offense.
Kevin Glenn converted all but eight of his 31 pass attempts for 301 yards and
two touchdowns, before giving way to John Beck who delivered another 72 yards
and two majors on just four completions. Emmanuel Arceneaux was the target of
choice down the field for Glenn and Beck, as he turned eight receptions into
145 yards and three scores.
For his efforts, Arceneaux was named the CFL's Offensive Player of the Week.
Also making a significant impact for BC last week was Andrew Harris, who not
only caught a 13-yard TD pass from Beck in the fourth quarter, he also ran the
ball 12 times for 72 yards, second only to Stefan Logan who pitched in with a
game-high 74 yards on nine attempts.
Giving the Lions a tremendous one-two punch on offense in the early going are
Logan and Harris who are first and second, respectively, in combined yards
with 671 and 585 yards. Harris is tops in the league in yards from scrimmage
with 518, usually a spot reserved for Toronto's Chad Owens, but even Winnipeg
has a player ahead of Owens in that department in Nic Grigsby who has 410
yards entering play this week.
Settling in under center, Willy is one of two quarterbacks currently with at
least 1,000 yards passing, trailing only Ricky Ray of Toronto. With five
passing scores to this point, Willy and the Bombers are far ahead of the pace
they set last year in that category when the squad was a distant eighth in the
league with a mere 13 aerial scores.
After tossing a staggering 27 interceptions in 2013, Winnipeg had to deal with
a disappointing 65.1 efficiency rating, so again the Bombers are ahead of the
curve in that area as well.
As far as the all-time series is concerned, one that takes into account
regular-season meetings dating back to 1954, it stands at 83-75-2 in favor of
the Blue Bombers. BC has won four straight and six of the last nine matchups,
the most recent of those being a 53-17 thrashing last September.
The teams are slated to battle here in British Columbia again on Sept. 13
before heading to Winnipeg for a late October encounter.
Winnipeg's start has been rather startling, but at some point the team will
have to come back to reality and that should happen this week on the road.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: British Columbia 31, Winnipeg 22
07/23 15:48:00 ET
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