With all the playoff spots locked up, some would call the Winnipeg at Calgary game “meaningless”; but I fully disagree!
Just because the standings are not impacted never makes a game meaningless. I made that argument last week and I will always make it.
Yes, the end goal is winning the Grey Cup; and every game works towards that. Players need to stay sharp. Teams need to stay healthy. Players and teams need to continue to develop good habits; winning habits.
Last week’s Bomber game vs. Edmonton showcased that Winnipeg understood all of that. I would be shocked if Winnipeg forgets that lesson this week. In fact this week’s game is even more important that last week’s game for a couple of reasons.
Why This Game Matters
Sure this game matters to Brady Oliveira. “Oliveira is 20 yards shy of hitting the 2,000 mark in yards from scrimmage – including his receiving totals – and Cornish is the only Canadian to have eclipsed the 2K mark. He had 2,139 yards from scrimmage in 2013.” Read about that and far more in the Bombers Game Preview by Ed Tait.
But this game is greater than a record, no matter how great that record is. It is conceivable that Calgary could come to Winnipeg on November 11 for the Western Final. So while both teams want to win, do not expect either team to reveal anything more than is already out there on tape. Sure, both clubs will look for tendencies, but the greatest tendency they may find out is how the backups face situations.
That is far from inconsequential! If either team needs to play some backups in the playoffs, there will now be film on them. This game will also matter for the starters, especially for Winnipeg who will have a bye in Week 1 of the playoffs. Those starters will either sit and get healthier; a luxury that Winnipeg has for Winning the West.
This game matters for them to get that rest. This game will also matter for Bomber starters who play a portion of the game. They will want to go into the playoffs feeling like they are peeking. This game will also matter for the starters who play the whole game; you simply cannot rest everyone with a smaller roster. For those players, this game will matter for them to play well and stay healthy.
Bombers’ Depth Chart
One of the biggest notes here may be that Zach Collaros is in the number three spot. I expect he will get very limited reps. I would be surprised if he got no reps. How many reps will he get? I believe that depends on the type of protection he gets. Reps = good. Hits = bad!
While Oliveira is listed in the number one spot, I expect that after he gets 20 yards to break 2,000 all purpose yards he is sat down for the remainder of the game. It will be interesting to see how Augustine does. So far Winnipeg has not really used a two back set; but Augustine needs the reps in case he is called upon in the playoffs.
As expected, Schoen is still out. Unless he was 100% I did not expect to see him back before the playoffs. Even then, we do not know if he will be back for November 11. I believe he will be back if he can contribute without harming the team. The question is not just if he is healthy enough; it is if he is a liability based on what percentage of health he is at.
Calgary Stampeders Depth Chart
The question asked most often on the Stamps social media with respect to the depth chart is, “Where is Reggie Begelton”? Well, I will tell you where he is not; on the injured list.
I expect that both teams will come out to play. Calgary was at risk of missing the playoffs; and could have if Saskatchewan did not implode at the end of the season. Just one week ago Saskatchewan blew a lead over Toronto to eliminate themselves from the playoffs. Toronto did not eliminate Saskatchewan; Saskatchewan eliminated Saskatchewan. Had Saskatchewan not lost their last seven games; every game after Labour Day, Calgary would have been in a rough spot!
While Winnipeg was not at risk of missing the playoffs, they are going for the Grey Cup! This team badly wants to win a third Grey Cup in four seasons. They know that everything from here on out is preparation for making that run. Winnipeg did not play great in the 2021 Western Final; committing 6 turnovers! In the 2022 Western Final Grant lost control of a catch setting up a BC touchdown; the Bombers should have been intercepted but the ball was dropped by Rugamba; Williams returned a missed field goal; yet Winnipeg won 28-20.
I expect that Winnipeg’s defense will come out to play. They have been criticized this year for allowing big plays. Should the Bombers win the West Final they will not do that by allowing explosion plays. Should Winnipeg want to win the Grey Cup, they will not do so if they allow explosion plays. Winnipeg’s defense needs to use this game to to figure out how to limit big plays.
As for the final score, with so many backups playing I have no clue what it will be. How about you? Let me know your guess on the score on whatever platform you are reading this.
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