The Winnipeg Blue Bombers will either face the BC Lions or the Calgary Stampeders in the Western Final in Winnipeg on Sunday November 13th. While neither team is likely to be an easy opponent who would the Bombers do better against?
If you wanted to you could ask Bomber Head Coach Mike O’Shea, but you already know what type of response you will get, “Both are excellent football teams, and both are coached very well. If you are asking me who we’d rather face I would say it is more about our team than it is about the opposition. We need to go out there and make sure we execute, are assignment smart, take care of the football and keep Zach clean.” Did I nail it?
Yet I think there is a case to be made that it does matter who the Bombers play.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers beat the Calgary Stampeders three times this year! When is the last time any team could have made that claim against Calgary? The Bombers beat Calgary 26-19 on July 15, 38-28 on July 30, and 31-29 on August 25. All of those games were wildly entertaining. However, as the CFL playoffs are a 1-and-done format, I doubt Bomber fans are that interested in a wildly entertaining game as much as they are interested in a win.
Paredes and Carey
If you are the Winnipeg Blue Bombers the two players that you have to worry about the most are Rene Paredes and Ka’Deem Carey. Calgary is supposed to have great receivers but they have dropped more than their fair share of catchable balls this year. Carey leads the league amongst receivers and in second place is Butler, more on him in a bit.
In the July 15 game Paredes went 4/4 on field goals with the longest being from 50 yards for the Stampeders, and Carey had 12 touches for 110 yards. On July 30 Paredes went 5/5 field goals with the longest being from 53 yards, and Carey had 14 touches for 92 yards and 2 touchdowns. In their August 25th game the Bombers held Carey to only 62 yards on 11 touches but Paredes did go 2/2 with the longest being from 47 yards.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers beat the BC Lions 2/3 times. In that one loss on October 15th the Bombers had a real chance to beat BC even though Winnipeg never played their starting quarterback. While some will blame Dru Brown for throwing 2 pick-6’s as the reason the Bombers lost that game, I have a different take on it.
In that win, Lions quarterback Vernon Adams looked mediocre. Throwing 13/22 for 138 yards and 1 touchdown, Adams was not putting any fear in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
When the Bombers beat BC earlier in the season 43-22 Nathan Rourke looked ok. Leading up to that game everyone was praising Rourke but saying his real test would come against Winnipeg. Yes, he did go 16/25 for 278 yards and threw 3 touchdowns, but he also threw 2 interceptions. (These are very similar to the numbers Dru Brown put up against the Lions on October 15 when he went 28/39 for 325 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions).
Rourke and Butler
These are the two players that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers should worry about the most. If Rourke gets back into the form that he was showing earlier this season you are going to have two gunslingers on opposite sides of the field – Zach Collaros and Nathan Rourke. While Butler has not played particularly well against the Bombers this year. Butler did have one nice game against Winnipeg on October 15 rushing for 104 yards on 14 carries – but Winnipeg was not playing a full complement of starters.
The X Factor
While both the Calgary Stampeders and the BC Lions could put Winnipeg to the test, I would suggest that Winnipeg fans should hope that BC beats Calgary in the Western Semi-Final.
Yes, both Calgary and BC have accomplished running backs. While Carey has 1,088 rushing yards Butler has 1,060 rushing yards. They also respectively have 10 and 7 rushing touchdowns on the season
However, there is an x factor. I believe the x factor is weather!
During the game in Winnipeg on October 28 the BC Lions were wearing their winter jackets on the sidelines and the Bombers were without jackets. Winnipeg also punished the Lions on every hit and every tackle making BC have to ask themselves, “Do we really want to come to Winnipeg on November 13th when the weather is colder and the hits hurt more?”
The BC Lions are a team that plays in a dome and earlier this week they tweeted out that it was cold at practice…the temperature was 5 degrees. While most normal people would find 5 degrees chilly that is almost shorts weather in Manitoba. How is a team that is complaining about 5 degrees ever going to play well in -4 to -8 degree weather (the daytime and evening highs for Winnipeg on November 13.)
Milt Stegall says playoff teams need a “BWB” or “Bad Weather Back,” I am not convinced BC has one.
While BC’s kicker, Sean Whyte, sits at 92.3% on made field goals as compared to Calgary’s Rene Paredes who has completed 90%, Paredes attempted 5 from longer than 50 yards and BC only 1 from that range. So often these games come down to who can make their kicks. And while Whyte has a slightly better percentage I believe the cold and the hard ball is something that Paredes is much more comfortable with those kicking conditions.
The Atmosphere At BC Place
The Atmosphere At BC Place
Usually the atmosphere is somewhat quiet in BC as BC struggles to draw enough fans to open the upper deck seating. However, Calgary will be in for a surprise if they have not prepared to play in a loud stadium in BC.
Maybe you think I completely missed the mark on all of this.
What did I get right? What did you disagree with? Let me know in the comments.
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Written by a Bomber fan, for the Bomber fans.
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