Canadian Football League

CFL Preview - Winnipeg (0-2) at Edmonton (1-1)



From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Friday, July 13, 9:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: The team that competed in the 99th Grey Cup last season against the British Columbia Lions finds itself sitting in a tie for last place in the East Division after two games, as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers hope to solve their problems before they hit the field against the Edmonton Eskimos at Commonwealth Stadium on Friday night.

Winnipeg, which has yet to put a tally in the win column, is on a four-game road trip to kick off the 2012 campaign so perhaps there's good reason for the rough start. But already the team has as many defeats as it did through the first nine contests of 2011 when it began 7-1 before struggling through the second half of the year.

Last Friday, the Bombers nearly doubled their offensive output from week one with a hefty 30-point effort against Montreal, but the defense simply was not up to the task as it allowed Anthony Calvillo and the Alouettes to generate 41 points in the meeting.

Buck Pierce was back under center for Winnipeg as he converted 18-of-26 passes for 255 yards and a score, but he was also intercepted once and sacked two times. Backup Alex Brink converted three of his four pass attempts for 57 yards and scored a major on a one-yard run as well.

Wideout Chris Matthews recorded eight catches for 131 yards and a touchdown, while Terrence Edwards responded with six grabs for 126 yards in the losing effort.

Winnipeg's pass defense allowed a hefty 445 yards to the Als, which might be why the club has signed import defensive back Jeremy McGee to the roster. McGee appeared in just one preseason game with the squad before being cut, but he obviously showed the staff enough to warrant a call-back.

While the Winnipeg defense has obviously struggled, special teams might be finding a leader in Demond Washington who was credited with an 82-yard punt return for a score against Montreal. Washington finished with more than 200 yards on kick returns versus the Als, and now has close to 400 combined return yards through two outings.

As for the Eskimos, the CFL has them fifth in the power rankings this week, but that's only because the team won its season opener. In a sport that sees outrageous scoring bursts on a regular basis, to have a team come up with just a single point through 60 minutes of action is abysmal, and that's what happened to the Esks in their 16-point road loss at Saskatchewan on Sunday afternoon.

Edmonton thought it could move on from the traded Ricky Ray with Steven Jyles at quarterback, but Jyles looked awful in the pocket in the second game of the season as he converted just 10-of-19 passes for 91 yards and was sacked three times before heading to the bench.

Kerry Joseph stepped in and tried to rally the troops and give them reason to think they could compete in the low-scoring affair, but he was equally as ineffective as he hit on just 4-of-8 attempts for 34 yards, was picked off once and sacked three more times. Because of those sacks, Edmonton was credited with fewer than 200 yards of total offense.

Kicker Burke Dales was credited with a single in the second quarter following one of his 10 punts in the meeting.

Adding insult to injury comes the news that Eskimos wide receiver Adarius Bowman will miss the remainder of the season after tearing both the ACL and MCL in his left knee. Bowman, who was coming off the best season of his five- year career after delivering 62 receptions for 1,153 yards with four majors in 2011, had nine catches for 145 yards through the first two games of this season before it was cut short.

Last season the teams split a pair of matchups, each winning on their home turf as the Bombers captured a 28-16 victory in early August, and the Esks returned the favor in the middle of October with a 24-10 decision.

Edmonton has won two of the last three meetings and owns a 91-79-3 edge in the all-time, regular-season series against Winnipeg as well.

The two are scheduled to meet once more during the regular season as the Eskimos drop in on Winnipeg in the latter's home opener on July 26.

Edmonton should have the advantage with being at home for this contest, but if Jyles continues to struggle a team like Winnipeg could steal a victory.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Winnipeg 28, Edmonton 13

07/11 11:27:05 ET

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