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CFL: Winnipeg Blue Bombers @ Toronto Argonauts Week 4 Preview/Prediction

Week 4 of the CFL season concludes on Monday Night, with the undefeated Winnipeg Blue Bombers (3-0) on the road against the 1-1 Toronto Argonauts at BMO Field. The reigning CFL champion Bombers continue to fly high as legit Grey Cup contenders, starting their new season with three straight victories over East divisional opponents. In contrast, the Argos are coming off a lowly performance in B.C. against the Lions. The humbling 44-3 defeat has people justifiably labeling Toronto as pretenders.

CFL Week 4: Winnipeg Blue Bombers @ Toronto Argonauts

  • Location: BMO Field, Toronto, ON
  • Date: Monday, July 4, 2022
  • Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: TSN/ESPN Plus
  • Radio: TSN 1050
  • Betting Line: Blue Bombers favored by 5 points. Over/Under: 42.5
  • Weather: Cloudy skies with periods of light rain possible. Low 66F. ESE winds shifting to WSW at 10 to 15 mph.

Interestingly enough, the last time Winnipeg played Toronto in the Six. An Argos 30-23 victory over the Bombers last August helped set the Boatmen on their voyage to the playoffs in 2021.

Despite the disparity between both franchises in recent years. The Argonauts have played the back-to-back Grey Cup champs tough at home. Back in 2019, an 0-6 Argos team pulled off an incredible fourth-quarter comeback at home against the eventual CFL champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers, completing a game-winning touchdown drive in the final seconds to edge Winnipeg 28-27. Argos quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson had one of his strongest performances in the CFL, completing 37 of 49 passes for 343 yards and three touchdowns to lead Toronto to its first win.

Andrew Harris had 197 yards and two touchdowns in that meeting three years ago. The future first-ballot Hall of Famer is now on the other side, looking to make a statement against the team that he says made him feel unwanted.

The Blue Bombers, led by masterful head coach Mike O’Shea is a measuring stick for every other CFL team. Andrew Harris and the Argos will be trying to measure up against the league’s most well-run franchise this Monday night.

Toronto Argonauts Week 4 Depth Chart/Injury Report

The Argos haven’t been at full strength since the season started and are missing several key players on both sides of the ball.

Toronto who has been reworking the back end of their roster every week to deal with injuries announced the release of two players on Sunday morning.

Toronto will unfortunately still be without their best offensive tackle, Isiah Cage, who is struggling to recover from a concussion he had in the preseason. Cage hasn’t appeared in a regular-season game in three years. He had a setback after practicing in full earlier in the week. Anytime a head injury is involved, it can be a terrifying and tricky process if the issue is lingering.

Dejon Allen practiced late in the week and will start at RT despite hurting his knee last week. Trevon Tate will start at LT again. The Argos have only two reserves upfront in rookie Gregor MacKellar and versatile swing player Shane Richards.

Andrew Harris has been limited the last two weeks in practice since experiencing tightness in his hamstring in the home opener. There’s no way he wanted to miss this contest. But it’s fair to question whether he should be playing. Because there is always a chance of reaggravating a hamstring injury or doing further damage. Toronto has a bye week coming up. The extra rest could be helpful for Harris and others.

FB Declan Cross, a key figure in Toronto’s run game is back this week in the lineup.

The Argos are dressing only two quarterbacks this week. Chad Kelly will assume the short-yardage role on the pivot, replacing Austin Simmons.

RB/KR Javon Leake is out for Monday’s contest. WR Isiah Wright will be in line to return kicks in his stead. Leake is yet another Argo dealing with a hamstring issue. He has been transferred to the six-week injury list. The eighth player on Toronto’s roster to receive that designation since the season started.

DE Shane Ray is back in the Boatmen lineup after missing last week with a hamstring injury. Ray had a breakout performance two weeks ago. The Argos hope that he can pick up right where he left off to start the season.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers Week 4 Depth Chart/Injury Report

The Bombers are very healthy coming into Monday’s contest. But they will be without jack of all trades receiver Nic Demski, who was placed on the team’s six-game injured list. With Demski out of the lineup, Toronto native Brendan O’Leary-Orange could see more targets along with Dalton Schoen on Monday.

FB and special teams stalwart Mike Miller is in the lineup, despite being limited all week in practice.

All-Stars DE Jackson Jeffcoat, OL Patrick Neufeld, and CB Winston Rose are all in the lineup despite practicing sparingly during the work week.

CFL Week 4: Bombers-Argos Game Analysis/Keys

On paper, the most significant mismatch in this game is Winnipeg’s coaching staff versus Toronto’s inexperienced mish-mosh of coaches, who are all working together in new roles for the first time.

To be fair, Winnipeg has this advantage against almost every single CFL team they play. The Bombers in 2022 continue to win because they play fundamentally sound football in all three phases. Mike O’Shea and his staff have made winning ugly a beautiful art form the last few seasons, and Winnipeg rarely makes mistakes and beats itself.

In contrast, the Argonauts’ staff, led by Ryan Dinwiddie, is experiencing early-season turbulence, misfiring on all cylinders, and trying to find a way to mesh a revamped roster of coaches with its new players.

The expectation heading into 2022 was that the Blue Bombers would take a while to re-establish themselves on offence because of the key players they lost this past offseason. Specifically, WRs Kenny Lawler, Darvin Adams, and newest Argo RB Andrew Harris. And that’s certainly been the case for Winnipeg early on in 2022. 2021 CFL All-Star QB Zach Collaros has also started off slow adjusting without some of his top offensive teammates from a year ago.

Offensive coordinator Buck Pierce has had to reshuffle the deck during this transitional period. The Bombers are sixth in the league in yards per game (323) and scoring (18.0). Winnipeg has scored only five touchdowns on offence in their first three games.

The Bombers could take the next step forward offensively in Week 4 because of their opponent. Expect Buck Pierce to go to town on all the deficiencies rookie play-caller Corey Mace’s unit has shown in their first two games. The Argonauts’ defence has had several mental breakdowns with players out of position, leaving receivers wide open and missing tackles in the open field. Winnipeg has a tendency of magnifying an opposing team’s flaws. Toronto will lose half the battle if their defence doesn’t get their communication and alignment issues corrected.

Defensively, the Bombers’ defence led by Richie Hall has picked up right where they left off last season. The defensive unit also had some key departures from 2021, like SLB Alden Darby. But the group’s elite players like Willie Jefferson, Jackson Jeffcoat, Adam Bighill, Casey Sayles, and Deatrick Nichols continue to play at an extremely high level. Winnipeg’s defence has allowed only one touchdown in three games and holding opponents to just 13.7 points per contest.

Ryan Dinwiddie has had success against Winnipeg’s defence the last few years, back to when he was offensive coordinator of the Calgary Stampeders. Dinwiddie has seen the Bombers’ defence plenty and knows their concepts. A year ago, Dinwiddie got the aggressive Bombers to over-pursue, opening up huge lanes in the run game. Can Dinwiddie duplicate those efforts in 2022?

McLeod Bethel-Thompson and the entire Toronto offence are off to a shaky start. It’s not for lack of talent at the skill positions. This week, the Argos’ offensive line faces a challenging task against Winnipeg’s dominating defensive front. For the Boatmen to get out of their early-season doldrums, MBT will need time to function in the pocket to utilize his talented receiving corps properly.

This week’s primary focus will be Andrew Harris facing his former team. The Canadian megastar has a massive chip on his shoulder. But his detractors feel he can’t carry the Boatmen like he did the Bombers on so many occasions. The Argos will need Harris to prove that father time hasn’t caught up to him.

Toronto’s defence outside of Shane Ray has had issues mustering any type of pass rush. Shawn Oakman and high-profile acquisition DE JaGared Davis have been mostly invisible. Unlike Winnipeg, the Argos’ defensive stars haven’t played their part. Davis and Oakman need to show up on Monday night.

Another area where Winnipeg typically has a leg up on their competition is special teams. Under his leadership, Paul Boudreau leads a unit that has been one of the Canadian Football League’s most innovative and consistent special teams units. The Bombers don’t give up big returns in coverage, and they are rarely penalized. Winnipeg’s “weak point,” Marc Liegghio, who replaced 2021 lifesaver Sergio Castillo, is perfect on the season thus far. (7/7). He’s had to be considering the offence’s struggles to score.

Mickey Donovan has his work cut out for him in this matchup. To split the difference in this game and have a chance to pull off the upset. The Argos special teams might need to produce a big play or two. Easier said than done against Winnipeg, who usually produces big plays of their own on special teams.

CFL Week 4: Argonauts-Bombers Prediction

It’s been an odd CFL season to this point. Especially in the East. An Argos loss would drop them to 1-2 but they would still remain in first place ahead of 1-3 Montreal, 0-3 Ottawa, and the shockingly 0-4 Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The Boatmen would love to take hold of the East and set their ship on the right course against the Bombers.

The Argos faithful are hopeful that their team bounces back on Monday. And that a change in scenery back home at BMO Field will change their fortunes. Perhaps their week stewing from a demoralizing loss will provide added motivation.

However, Toronto is facing a team that’s better than them in every respect. The 2022 Argos are a work in progress. In some respects, you could argue that the 2022 Bombers, at least offensively, are too. But Winnipeg is so much further ahead in the early stages of this season than Toronto.

The oddsmakers have Winnipeg as significant favorites on the road for a reason. The Argonauts are not ready to pull off this upset. And they won’t.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers 32 Toronto Argonauts 16

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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