Winnipeg Blue Bombers (3-0) at Toronto Argonauts (1-1)
Monday, 7.30 pm, at BMO Field… TSN/1050 AM… Line: Bombers with 4.5… Weather: 25C, 30% chance of rain, wind 15 km/h
STATS PACK (with current CFL ranking)
21.3 (5th) …. 11.5 (9th)
13.7 (2nd)… 31.5 (8th)
84.0 (5th)…. 72.5 (9th)
256.3 (8th)…. 236.5 (9th)
321.7 (7th)…. 285.5 (9th)
361.0 (5th) … 459.0 (9th)
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
1. RUN, ANDREW, RUN: The Argos need to control the line of scrimmage and there’s no better way than to set up a ground game when Andrew Harris first faces his former team in Double Blue. He has not played against his home team since October 10, 2015, when he qualified for the BC Lions. Harris needs 225 emergency yards to reach career 10,000, he won’t reach Monday.
2. RUN OF THE MILL: Brady Oliveira goes into the night with a hasty average of 3.0 for the Bombers, while Johnny Augustine has an average of 3.7 per attempt. Winnipeg will dress American Greg McCrae for the first time; the 5-foot-10 McCrae averaged 6.5 yards in Central Florida. He spent time with the Argos in 2021.
3. WRIGHT ON: Isaiah Wright is expected to take on return duties for the Argos after a hamstring injury suffered by Javon Leake during Saturday’s practice, which put Leake on the six-game injured list. Field position looms and the Argos will have to play in special teams against a Winnipeg unit that is disciplined in cover teams.
4. ‘BIG’ NIGHT: The Argos will have to reckon with Adam Bighill if they have any hope of setting up a ground game; Harris is well aware of Bighill’s tendencies, but Bighill is also well aware of what makes Harris tick. From sideline to sideline there is no better LB than Bighill who is equally adept at making plays downhill.
5. WED’S THE E: Toronto’s attack has not been good in two games and will have to stay on the field against a Bombers defense that doesn’t allow opponents to support drives; the Argos have been rather bland, but resorting to some tricks can help launch an attack that needs a spark.
Bombers OL Chris Kolankowski vs. Argos DT Shawn Oakman
Good guy Kolankowski went to York and earned a Gray Cup ring with the Argos as a rookie in 2017. He will line up in the center and will have to be at his best anchoring the interior of Winnipeg’s O-line. Oakman is a beast and he will have to be kept in check, but Kolankowski can’t do it alone, so the Bombers will probably double the Argos lineman every now and then.
The last of four games for Winnipeg against eastern foes as the Bombers will play the next four games against western opponents at the start of the season… In 74 games with Winnipeg, Harris scored 5,402 rushing yards, scored 35 total touchdowns and accumulated 7,986 yards of scrimmage; in last week’s loss in BC, he became the fifth player in league history to score more than 15,000 scrimmage yards, setting the Winnipeg great Milt Stegall (15,209) with 169 yards for the fourth time all-time… To illustrate Big Blue’s dominance over D, consider these numbers: Winnipeg has awarded less than 20 points in 13 out of 17 games since the start of 2021 and is 12-1 during that period; Winnipeg has won the revenue battle in 14 out of 17 games since the start of 2021 to set a 13-1 record in that span; the team only allowed 12 points in the second half, yielded no touchdowns and only allowed six points in the fourth quarter on two field goals this season… Both teams will dress a US backup when running back with McCrae who is his CFL debuts with Big Blue and AJ Ouellette makes its season debut with the Double Blue
OUR TAKE: Bombers 23, Argos 18
It’s a game that can be won for the Argos, who rarely lose at home, but so much will depend on their attack and ability to finish drives with TDs against a solid defense from Winnipeg. This game could go either way, given Winnipeg’s lack of attacking explosiveness and the absence of injuries for Nic Demski. A big key is how well the Argos can stop WR Rasheed Bailey from making plays.