Saturday, 10 September 2016

Breaking Down the Banjo Bowl

As promised...
Here's the 2nd phase of our CFL Pick-EM, as we focus on the  re-match of the Labour Day Classic, Saskatchewan vs. Winnipeg.

One may think that the Blue Bombers hold a distinct advantage heading into the Banjo Bowl today vs. the Riders, but there are a few question marks that I would ask you all to consider before one jumps the gun.

Although IG Field is one of the loudest buildings in the CFL, the Blue and Gold are only 1-3 at home, so as exciting as this may be for the fans and players, Winnipeg is definitely not unbeatable in front of their own crowd.  At this point, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have absolutely nothing to lose in their 2016 season and that mentality goes a long way when all a player needs to do is give everything they have for the guy beside them.  When I really think about it, I don’t think Investors Group Field is much of an advantage at all to the Bombers this game.

It’s going to be interesting to see how Offensive Coordinator Paul LaPolice employs his scheme this week.  During the Labour Day Classic, in Saskatchewan, it felt like at times Lapo was pressing to get Weston Dressler the ball a little bit too much.   

Who can blame Lapo though?  I think everyone in the building wanted #7 in the Blue and Gold to have a GREAT game in front of the fans in Mosaic Stadium.  The problem was, with pressing Weston Dressler upon the Roughriders, Winnipeg seemed to get away from their meal ticket, ANDREW HARRIS.  I was happy to see that the Bombers were making a concerted effort to get Dress the rock.  Especially in the End Zone.

Now that the “magic” of the Labour Day Classic in Regina has worn off, and the Bombers are back to their normal routine, I would suspect that Coach LaPolice and the rest of the Winnipeg Offense will return to the status quo and feed #33 on the ground and through the air.

Saskatchewan is going to have to step up (again) defensively when it comes to Harris.  During last week’s game, the Roughriders defended the “stretch play” well.  They did not allow Harris to start out running east and west and then have his choice of north/south cut back options.  It’s a play that Winnipeg ran well prior to Week 11, and it’s a play that the Green and White nullified. 

Any success on Defence this week,  for the Roughriders, must start at continuing to play the run well on 1st down.  One of the reasons that Saskatchewan was in a position to win the game last week was because of the fact that they put Matt Nichols in a lot more 2nd and 7+ situations than the Bombers would have liked to be in.   Everyone is STILL waiting for the "real" Matt Nichols to show up (the one that's not as good as this version).  I'm actually starting to think that Nichols has simply found his groove, and everyone else, including me are now chasing ghosts.  To be honest, I thought a few of the throws that Matt Nichols made during the Labour Day game were UNREAL!  Hopefully a few more difficult 2nd & longs may yield some much needed turnovers for the Green squad.

As far as the Saskatchewan O in concerned, the emphasis in going to have to be communication.  The receivers and their Franchise QB have to be on the same page, because the Riders MUST avoid the costly turnovers that set them back last week.  The goal is always to improve every time one hits the field. If these young talented wide-outs can be in the spots Doubles needs them to be in, and the protection schemes hold up, Saskatchewan proved last week that they can move the ball effectively in spots. 

The question here is, will the Winnipeg Defence play better than they did during Week 11?  In talking to some of their players after the game, admittedly, last weeks games was not that unit's best performance.

After going back and forth all the way through the week, including for the duration of the Roughrider Pre-Game Show on Harvard Radio;  I keep getting the feeling that the Bombers find a way to get this one done.

Surely, after watching film, Paul LaPolice would have identified the fact that the Bombers got a little bit off schedule as far as Andrew Harris was concerned.  The fact that Blue and Gold relied solely on Justin Medlock and only scored 1 Offensive Touchdown cannot sit well with Winnipeg, and they probably understand that if the Bombers are to make a legitimate run at the playoffs, they need to score TOUCHDOWNS. 

We'll go with Winnipeg today thanks to a monster game from Andrew Harris, and a better performance on Defence and Special Teams coverage units.

Pick:  With regret and a hope that I'm wrong; The Blue and Gold.

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