The BC Lions travel to Winnipeg Thursday for what is a must-see matchup. The last time these teams played BC won by a score of 30-6 and the Bombers are fired up to even the score.
BC Lions (5-1): The BC Lions are coming off a shutout victory in Edmonton Saturday to play in Winnipeg 5 days later. Winnipeg is coming off the bye so they will have a well-rested advantage. When they last met the BC pass rush was too much for Winnipeg as Zach Collaros was sacked 7 times.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers (5-2): The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are fresh off the bye week. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have only lost at home once this year to BC. Over the 2021 and 2022 seasons, they only lost 1 game at home which came against Montreal during the 2022 season in week 10. IG Field has been a tough place to visit for away teams the last few seasons and the Bombers will be excited for the opportunity to play BC after the 30-6 at-home loss to BC that came in week 3.
Date/Location: Thursday, August 3 / IG Field, Winnipeg, MB
Kickoff Time: 8:30 PM ET, 5:30 PM PT
Channel: TSN (Canada), CBS Sports (USA), CFL+ (International)
Spread: BC +5.5 (-105), Winnipeg -5.5 (-115)
Moneyline: BC +190, Winnipeg -230
Over/Under: 44.5 (Over -110, Under -110)
CFL First Period All-Star Team (Weeks 1-7)
The Blue and Gold
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers had 3 key players listed as questionable but knowing Winnipeg meant they are playing. In week 6 for example, the Bombers had 12 players listed as questionable, 5 of which were full participants all week at practice.
Their star receiver, Dalton Schoen, is questionable after not participating in Sunday’s practice, being limited Monday, and then benign a full participant Tuesday. Schoen has frequently been listed as questionable this season but has not missed a game. On defense, Winston Rose and Kyrie Wilson are listed as questionable while Jared Beeksma is out. All 3 of those players are starting against BC.
This week the Lions will be facing a talented Winnipeg receiving room that was recently rejoined by Kenny Lawler who had who had 7 catches for 93 yards in his first game of the season in week 7. Dalton Schoen leads the team in receiving yards with 473 on 29 catches and is 6th in the league. Winnipeg’s Nic Demski is 9th in receiving yards with 435 yards on 28 catches. Drew Wolitarsky and Rasheed Bailey have also been dangerous as Wolitarsky has 4 touchdowns and Bailey has 3.
Winnipeg’s star defensive end, Willie Jefferson is close behind Mathieu Betts’ league leading 10 sacks as Jefferson has 8. Jefferson also leads the league in knockdowns with 7. Winnipeg’s middle linebacker Adam Bighill leads the team in tackles with 33 and also has 2 sacks. Bighill was a west division all-star in 2022.
Winnipeg has had some impressive performances from their defensive backs as well. Demario Houston leads the league in interceptions with 5. Evan Holm is tied with Garry Peters for the league lead in knockdowns among defensive backs with 6. Winnipeg’s Deatrick Nichols has 5 knockdowns.
Dane Evans is starting again for the Lions’ at quarterback. Last week Evans was the only CFL quarterback to have over a 75 in passing efficiency and he had a 130.5 passing efficiency rating. Last week against Edmonton he completed 25 of his 32 passes (78%) for 330 yards and 2 touchdowns. His longest play was a 55-yarder up over the middle to Alexander Hollins. He connected with Justin McInnis and Taquan Mizzell for touchdowns.
Taquan Mizzell had a good game last week after missing 2 to injury. He was the only running back in week 8 to have over 100 yards rushing as he ran 22 times for 117 yards against an Elks team that has struggled to stop the run. He also caught 2 passes for 30 yards and a touchdown.
Hungry Pass Rush
In the win against Edmonton, the BC Lions had Taylor Cornelius running for his life. On the stats sheet, it may appear that he had good protection as he was sacked only once by Emmanuel Rugamba but he was pressured far more often than not. There were at least 3 plays in which Cornelius threw the ball away as he was being tackled to negate a sack and take an incompletion instead.
The last time the Lions faced Winnipeg, BC got to Zach Collaros a lot as they had 7 sacks. Mathieu Betts had 3 sacks while many others also had a sack including Emmanuel Rugamba, Sione Teuhema, David Menard, and Nathan Cherry.
Last week against Edmonton BC kept Kevin Brown to 1 yard per carry on 5 rushes. The week before they held Saskatchewan’s Jamal Morrow to 11 yards on 12 carries. After 2 straight weeks of holding the opponent’s starting running back to 1 yard per carry or less, the Lions now face Brady Oliveira for Winnipeg who is currently the league leader in rushing yards. Woody Baron was named to the PFF Honor Roll in week 8 in the win over Edmonton as he pressured Cornelius and helped prevent the Elks’ offensive line from opening up holes for Brown to run through.
Garry Paters had 2 knockdowns in the endzone last time BC faced Winnipeg helping prevent the Bombers from scoring any touchdowns. Last week Emmanuel Rugamba and Quincy Mauger both had a knockdown. The coverage was good against the Elks and receivers were rarely able to get open downfield.
Injuries, Depth Chart Changes From Last Week:
Vernon Adams Jr. was limited in practice this week and is listed as a third-stringer as he recovers from injury. Dane Evans will start at quarterback for the 2nd straight week.
Dominique Rhymes is returning to the lineup after missing last week. Daniel Peterman is moved to the 1game injured list and Justin McInnis will play as a 2nd string receiver after starting last week.
Kienan LaFrance comes back into the lineup as a 2nd string runningback after being on the injured list last week.
Josh Banks will miss the game due to a hamstring injury. Nathan Cherry will start in his place as a defensive tackle. Marcus Moore is elevated from the practice roster to provide depth at defensive tackle.
Isiah Messam will miss the game due to a foot injury after being a second-string linebacker last week. Brooks Parker is moved to the practice roster after providing depth at linebacker last week.
Patrice Rene is coming on listed as a 2nd-string cornerback after being on the 1-game injured list. Siriman Bagayogo is listed as a 2nd string halfback after being listed as a 2nd string cornerback last week.
I think we’re going to see a great game. Both BC and Winnipeg are fantastic football teams. I do predict Winnipeg to win this game largely based on 3 reasons.
Winnipeg has been so tough to beat at home the last 3 seasons. Rest is a dangerous advantage and BC just played 5 days before this game whereas Winnipeg had a bye week. Kenny Lawler joining Winnipeg’s receiving room makes that group incredibly dangerous with so many great passing options.
I predict Winnipeg to win 23-20.
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