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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 devastating.

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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