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Redblacks Kickoff 2024 Season Against Winnipeg Thursday for Week 2

Winnipeg walks into TD Place 0-1 looking to rebound from a tough week one loss to Montreal. This has created an interesting trend with the Winnipeg having lost both their preseason games, and now their regular season opener. Could the Blue Bombers be seeing their first “Grey Cup hang over” after a big time loss to Montreal? 

Winnipeg scored just 12 points versus Montreal’s defense in week one. This is nothing short of a disappointment for Winnipeg who has been a juggernaut in recent history. They haven’t won less than ten games since in almost a decade. An unheard-of run of success for any team in any league. Toi see them come out looking sluggish is surprising, to say the least. Ottawa needs to seize an early-season opportunity to defeat an otherwise tough opponent. Can Dru Brown win his first start outside of Winnipeg against his former team? 

Dru Brown Seeks First Regular Season Win with Ottawa in Week 2

The Redblacks made some large changes this offseason in an effort to tune up this offense and find more success in the passing game than they have had the past five seasons. Year after year the Redblacks have attempted to overhaul an anemic unit only to watch their plans backfire.

Since Ottawa tried to replace Trevor Harris following 2018, they haven’t had a single quarterback start and finish the season as the QB1. During this stretch not one quarterback has managed a positive touchdown to interception ratio. During the first three seasons of their existence Trevor Harris led the passing game to an 89 to 43 touchdown to interception ratio. 

The worst season with him at the helm came in 2018 when the team failed to top 30 passing touchdowns for the first time in their history. Since then, Ottawa has completed four seasons producing 40 touchdowns to 77 interceptions with players like Jeremiah Masoli, Nick Arbuckle, Dustin Crum, Will Ardnt, Tyrie Adams, Dominique Davis, Caleb Evans, Matt Nichols, Devlin Hodges Tyrell Pigrome and Jonathan Jennings. They haven’t gone a single year with less than four quarterbacks attempting a pass. 

Brown is the guy tabbed to turn Ottawa around, in part due to the ability he showed in Winnipeg to protect the ball, move through his progressions and make the right decision on any given play. He wasn’t superman for Winnipeg but he didn’t need to be, and Ottawa believes he may not need to be for them either. With an impressive supporting cast a lot of the onus will be on the weapons they brought in around Brown to create after the catch and pick up extra yardage. Ottawa didn’t invest in the wideouts like they did this offseason to suffer through another 11 passing touchdown season. Could this create a short leash for Brown given that Massoli and Adams have already begun to practice in a limited capacity? 

Keys to Victory

Win one one-on-one match-up in the trenches. If we learned anything about Winnipeg last week, it’s that their offensive line needs work. Per, Only two members of the starting five graded better than 66.3, and both live on the left side of the line. The worst graded pass blocker was their center who graded 31.6 in the passing game. Eric Lofton struggled at right tackle, and Patrick Neufeld was only slightly better at right guard. 

Not only were they bad in pass protection, but they were bad in the run game as well allowing just 1 yard before initial contact all game long. To put that into perspective, the defensive line has to line up one yard off the line of scrimmage, and the running back is typically 3-4 yards deep in the backfield, this essentially means the offensive line was losing ground on every play. 

Winnipeg had 3 plays account for a loss of 17 yards, 5 penalties for 65 yards, fumbled 3 times, losing two and threw an interception. The stat that really sticks out is 8 of 23 on second down just over a 33% conversion rate. Sergio Castillo played a part in the loss missing two of three field goal attempts. This was one of the worst offensive outings by Winnipeg in years. It all stems from the penetration the line allowed all game long. We might be talking about a completely different result if they had stepped up. 

Stop the Run

The Blue Bombers have one of the most talented backfields in the league. With Brady Olivera and Chris Streveler alone they have a chance to finish as the top rushing offense. However, Winnipeg will be without Olivera after a knee injury in week one. It won’t help matters their top wideout Kenny Lawler is now out with a broken arm. Losing one of your top targets allows Ottawa to approach the Winnipeg offense with a little less caution, and a little bit more aggression. 

This could lead to Barron Miles choosing to rush the passer or run blitz more often to try and slow down this offense much like Montreal did in week one. I expect to see a lot of pressure sent up the middle targeting their center who struggled in week one. Blessman Ta’ala, and Michael Wakefield should do damage in this game. Bryce Carter should be a name to watch in this game. 

Establish the Passing Game

The Blue Bombers allowed Cody Fajardo to look like he was the league MOP last season as he had a near perfect game for Montreal. 20 of 28 for 254 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception. He added 7 carries for 23 yards. If Dru Brown can come out and play anywhere near this well the Redblacks will coast to a win in this game. However, it’s not just going to be handed to them. 

Tyson Philpot went off in this game catching 10 of 11 targets for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Redblacks arguably have a much more talented wide receiver group from top to bottom, forcing a pick your poison scenario for Winnipeg. In this game Nick Mardner will get the start alongside an All-Star cast of pass catchers; Jaelon Acklin, Dominique Rhymes, Justin Hardy, and Bralon Addison. Who would you choose to double cover? 

Depth Chart

Some interesting changes have popped up on the week one depth chart. Rookie wide receiver Nick Mardner will get the start, while Devonte Dedmon has seemingly been moved to running back. While Dedmon is a career receiver, he has 12 carries for 73 yards and 1 touchdown with Ottawa, and had another 41 carries for 240 yards and 1 touchdown. Collectively averaging 5.9 yards per carry on 53 touches.

One other change to note is Dontae Bull has taken over at right tackle in week one, and Jacob Ruby wasn’t listed as depth this week. Ottawa has just one backup lineman active for their first game of the 2024 season. 


How to Watch

Kicking off at 7:30 pm, this game can be watched on TSN/RDS2 in Canada. CFL Plus will be the main option for international viewers hoping to catch the game. Between CBSSports, and CFL Plus, the viewership on the league was up 22% in week one over last year’s numbers per Mike Mitchell of

Betting Odds/Prediction

In this game DraftKings has Ottawa rated as 7 point underdogs at home. The over/under is 46.5 points, with the money line +235 for Ottawa. In this game, I’m taking Ottawa, and the points while also picking the under. 

I’ve got Ottawa winning 21-17 with 38 points scored overall. 

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Sam Just Reporter
I am a writer and content creator focusing on alternative football leagues like the UFL, CFL, AFL, IFL, NAL, and AIF. If you like alternative football leagues, check out my personal platform Shady Sports Network on YouTube and all your favorite social media platforms.
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