The final game of the CFL weekend starts in a few minutes, but it’s still not too early to look ahead to next weeks game between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Edmonton Eskimos. The reason I can say that is that the outcome of this game between the Stamps and Riders will have no immediate impact on the standings at the end of next weeks game.
As far as the Eskimos are concerned, win or lose, they will be alone atop the CFL West at the end of their game against the Bombers. For the Bombers, it’s not quite as secure a feeling, although still pretty good. Even if the Ticats and Als both win, the worst that can happen to the Bombers is that they fall into a three way tie for first place, although they alone will be undefeated against Eastern opponents.
Of course it will only be a third of the way through the season and much can happen by the time it all wraps up late October – early November. All of this is by way of saving, as Bomber fans, that we needed place to much importance on this game. Win or lose, the team will still be in a strong position overall, and while first overall in the CFL standings at the end of the regular season is nice, it means next to nothing come the playoffs, having the Eastern lead is what counts.
However, this game will provide a good measuring stick for where the Bombers really stand. After all, the combined records of the teams the Bombers have beaten so far stands at 4-11. Given the closeness of many of the games this season, I wouldn’t want to put too much stock in that fact, but it’s worth keeping in the backs of our minds as we, rightfully, praise the team for it’s fast start.
Much has been said about the emotional state of the Bombers after the loss of coach Harris and I don’t intend to add to it here. Instead I want to look at some of the football issues instead. Number one has to be the health of Buck Pierce. Or is it? Although there are a lot of rumours circulating around Buck’s health, Alex Brink stepped in when Pierce went down and after a shaky start, not helped by his receivers, did a fine job leading the Bombers to the comeback victory.
While everyone admires Pierce’s toughness, although many question his judgement, and although he had a great game against the Argonauts two weeks ago, his performance in general hasn’t been particularly stellar, especially at the beginning of games. Perhaps it’s time to let Pierce get a little more rest and see what Brink can do for four quarters.
Having said that, it’s true, that the Bomber receivers have not been particularly focused at times throughout this season. The Bombers trouble with scoring early might be reduced if the receivers held on to a few more of the balls thrown their way.
Twice already this season, Coach LaPolice has been unwilling to go for it on 3rd and short. The Bombers won both times they chose to do that, but with an offence that has trouble producing, they need as many chances to keep the drives going as possible. This is important because, despite having the top scoring defense in the league, the Bombers games have mostly been closer than they should have, because the offence is in the bottom half of the eight team CFL.
There may be a need for Winnipeg’s offence to ramp things up against Edmonton, for although defensively the two teams are virtually indistinguishable on points allowed, Winnipeg has given up 97, Edmonton 99, Edmonton has put up points on offence, 153 -124, almost an uncoverted touchdown a game more than Winnipeg.
Of course, I have great confidence that the Bomber Defence will rise to the occasion and hold the Eskimos in check. Are special teams have also been strong throughout the first five weeks, although it is time for Perry Floyd to bring some of the dynamism that looked so promising in the preseason into a regular season game.
All things considered, I expect this to be a close game, and that perhaps the ultimate advantage will lie in the fact that Winnipeg has the home field advantage.
Final score: Winnipeg 27, Edmonton 24