Well, Labour Day weekend is here, and with it the halfway point in the CFL season. It usually also means the playing of three Labour Day classics, although this year with a scheduling snafu in Toronto, we only are getting two. Good job by the B.C. Lions in besting the Toronto Argonauts last night and bringing at least some semblance of a race to the CFL West, and depending on Hamilton’s performance the next two weeks, keeping the possibility of the cross-over alive.
I only watched the first half of last night’s game because it was dreadfully boring. While Montreal is taking Toronto’s place against Hamilton, I expect that game to be much more exciting, with both teams having a lot more at stake. Edmonton and Calgary is generally an exciting game. The Stamps seem to be the dominant team of the two, but this being Labour Day and a rivalry game.
Which brings me to the Bombers and Riders. By all accounts this should be a runaway. The Winnipeg is 7-1 and Saskatchewan is 1-7. While the Bombers are only middle of the pack in points scored, they’ve given up the fewest, while the Riders are last in both categories. Whatever hope the Riders had of getting a boost from the return of receiver, Andy Fantuz, recently cut by the Chicago Bears, will have to wait another week.
By all accounts, this game should be a fairly easy win for the Bombers. Yet, it’s Labour Day weekend at Mosaic Field. Until Winnipeg stepped up this season, Riderville usually has the loudest, most intense fan base in the CFL. Over the last several years this place has generally been a nightmare for the Bombers. I don’t expect this to be the case this year, but the Bombers still very much need to be on their game if they want to finish the first half 8-1.
I’ve said over and over, that their slow starts are putting the Bombers at risk. This is never more true than tomorrow. A quick start will do much to take the crowd out of the game, as well as to reinforce any doubts that exist within the minds of the Rider players, and face it, at 1-7 you’ve got to have some doubts.
Relate to the need to get of to a quick start is the return of Kito Poblah at the wide receiver spot. Poblah has been on the 9 game disabled list, so will quite likely have some rust. However, if he is the speed burner that he is said to be, he may help open up the passing game for the Bombers even more than it has been. I don’t know if they plan on using him as such, but he might also help the Bombers on kickoff returns.
The return of Ken Miller to the sidelines is an upgrade at the coaching position for the Riders. This game may be the biggest test for Paul LaPolice as a coach this season.
Emotions also play a big role in these rivalry games. The Bombers got a little loose emotionally versus Hamilton last week, but, to their credit got it back together in short order. Allowing it to happen this week in a hostile environment, could prove more harmful to their chances of winning.
These are things that the Bombers have to keep an eye on Sunday. I still think, all of these factors being considered, that the Bombers will win the game, but I think it may be a lot closer than many people are expecting it to be.
I posted on the Friday night TSN blog, that the final score would be 21-20 Winnipeg, but after thinking about it a little more, I think it will more likely be 28-27.