The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will host the BC Lions on Sunday November 13 in the Western Final!
These are the top two teams in the CFL – Winnipeg with a regular season record of 15-3, and BC having a regular season record of 12-6. In order to get to this game, BC had to beat Calgary in the Western Semi-Final that was played in BC last Sunday.
On paper these two teams look very similar. While BC has a slight edge in passing yards per game this is not a complete picture of the BC Lions team under Nathan Rourke. Had Rourke played the whole season, and had he been able to keep the pace he was on – recognizing that early in the season he mostly played weaker teams – the passing spread would be greater.
Winnipeg, on the other hand has the edge in rushing yards per game. Again that edge is slight but consider that Brady Oliveira had a very slow start to the season. Over the last third of the season he has really picked up his production. Had he played like that all season, Winnipeg would have a larger spread in rushing yards.
What the numbers tell us
What we can see from the numbers is that while BC will be looking to rekindle its passing game, the Bombers ‘ run game is peaking at the right time. I believe that both teams will need to be successful in the run game if they want to win the west, and Winnipeg is looking to be in a better position.
Many in the media, including myself have been saying that the weather is going to be an issue, but BC disagrees.
Earlier this week the BC Lions tweeted out videos of the players riding jet skis and heading to the beach to prepare for the weather. OK, they got me! I thought that those were really from last week, but apparently they were from the summer when the Lions were on a bye week. So I reached out to Matt Baker, the Lions’ Manager of Communications and Content to get an inside perspective of what BC thinks about weather being a factor.
Here is what Matt told me,
The weather angle is to be expected. Makes for good sports talk, social media and podcast fodder. Lions players are probably fine hearing it. The facts are they are preparing to face a very elite football team and know they have to take care of business regardless of what the weather is. Some of the big playoff wins in team history came in brutal conditions. Think of McManus to Flutie in 1994 in Calgary. The 1985 grey cup was cold as heck. If you told these guys at the start of the year they’d be in this spot, they would have signed up in a heartbeat!
We will see how this plays out, but the reality is that BC landed in Winnipeg Friday evening to a land filled with snow. They will practice on Saturday at IG Field and have very little time to acclimatize to the weather.
BC can tweet out whatever they would like to, but the reality is that two weeks ago the BC players were huddled around the heaters and wearing their winter jackets, while the Bomber players were not.
You can see what the weather was like in BC before they headed to Winnipeg.
And here is what IG Field looked like on Saturday.
Maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe Matt baker has it all right. We will find out on Sunday. While Matt would have a better read on his team, I would have a better read on Winnipeg weather.
You can get a more detailed take from Matt Baker right here.
Who is in & Who is out?
Likely the biggest loss for the Lions is that Lucky Whitehead is out. While he will not be watching from the stands this year – as he was in the 2021 Western Final – he will have to be watching from the sideline.
However, while Rourke and Butler are playing neither of them are 100%. I know, I know, “At this point in the season nobody is 100%.” But I would suggest that there is a difference between that saying and what we actually saw from those two players in the Western Semi-Final. Rourke’s foot certainly was causing him issues. He had to elevate it when he was not playing, and he was doing everything to keep the pressure off of it when he was playing. Butler is also banged up, and in a game that is going to require a successful rushing performance the question will be if Butler can have a big game.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
The Bombers look as healthy as they have in a long time. The one question mark will be Rasheed Bailey who is marked as GTD or “game time decision.” However, nobody is really sure what happened to Bailey. He was looking great at Thursday’s open practice, but on Friday where the practice was closed to the media he appeared on the injury report. So what if Bailey is out? The Bombers would lose a guy who has 9 touchdowns on the season and we would likely see O’Leary-Orange (who is listed behind Wolitarksy) flip to the other side of the field and take Bailey’s place.
Are you hyped?
If somehow you are not yet hyped for the Western Final I suggest you put this Bombers’ hype video on repeat!
Yes the weather is going to be a bit chilly, but if Bomber fans have shown anything over the years it is that the weather doesn’t stop us from coming out. Last year the Western Final was on December 5th and the wind was howling! Yet 31,160 fans showed up to cheer the Bombers on to victory!
If you are looking for my pro-tips to stay warm you can find them here.
If you are looking for some last minute tickets you are in luck there still are some!
And make sure to head to the game early and hit up the Princess Auto Tailgate area that opens up at 11:30 am.
So what is left to be said?
With all that has been said leading up to this game, what else could be said? Well about 56 minutes of interviews from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
What did I get right? What did you disagree with? Let me know in the comments.
Find all my articles here.
Written by a Bomber fan, for the Bomber fans.
Stay with CFL News Hub for the 2022 season.
Follow me on Twitter @DonCruickshank1
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