Thank goodness this is the third time these teams are playing each other for the third time in a short stretch, cause I really need to mail this baby in! Last week's win was huge. With a 2 game lead in the loss column and the season seriies, the Bombers would need to go 7-2 to finish ahead of the the Riders if the Riders go a modest 5-4. Even at that, to keep pace with Calgary and move into second place alone, the Riders need to keep winnning. There are some injury issues to tough upon for both teams.
Probable starters: Riders - Durant, Bombers - Willy. Nothing to change here. Darian did what he's been doing. Nothing flashy. Just making plays when they need to be made and not turning the ball over. That was a pretty gutsy effort by Drew Willy, coming off that ankle injury, although from the way he was moving, I don't think it was as serious as it appeared when he was rolling around. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - Ford / Messam / Allen, Bombers- Grigsby. I think it's only fair and accurate to list all three of the Riders' backs as the starters as we have no idea week to week who will the main ball carrier. Grigsby had a better game than he did in the first matchup. I guess it was a lot to expect the D to hold him to those numbers again. He still didn't have a big average overall but had one big run. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - T. Smith, Bagg, Dressler, Getzlaf, Swain, Bombers - Kelly, Kohlert, Denmark, Watson, Bryant. Glad to hear that Chris Getzlaf is on the roster. I agree with those who say that he probably hasn't been 100% healthy all year. Having Dressler back takes some of the pressure off him. Speaking of which, expect the timing between Dressler and Durant to improve week to week. Rob Bagg hasn't been getting enough credit for the job he's done this year. With all the big names in this league, he is the Canadian receiver leading in yards. This time, the Riders held Clarence Denmark in check, but Nick Moore had a big game, including one outstanding catch when he was well covered. Unfortunately for him and the Bombers, he's out with injury this week, so Romby Bryant checks in. With Dresslser being one week better and Nick Moore out I was tempted to switch the advantage here over to the Riders. With Getzlaf on the limp I won't go that far. It's time to give Rob Bagg as much billing as other top Canadian receivers while he keeps producing. Even
Probable starters: Riders - T - Fulton, Heenan, G - LaBatte, Clark, C - Picard, Bombers - T - January, Howard, G - Greaves, Jones, C - Morley. It didn't surprise me after the way he filled in for PIcard earlier this year, but it's worh mentioning that Dan Clark had a good game filing in for Best. He'll have a big test this week with the Winnipeg crowd noise. I don't know how it affects the rest of their team, but having to use 3 imports seemed to help the Bomber line. I thought Willy got much more time than the first matchup. No changes for either team here. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - DE - Chick, Foley, DT - George, Walker, Bombers - DE - Peach, Vega, DT - Bryant, Thomas. We are starting to see teams running and in general moving away from John Chick now. I expect his sack numbers to not keep up, even though he will be playing as well. It's opening things up for the other linemen too. Our entire D-line is in the top 15 in sacks. Fraser is out for the Bombers after getting hurt last week, but it's hardly an issue for the Bombers as they move Jason Vega back on the roster. Even
Probable starters: Riders - MLB - Kilgore, OLB - Brown, Peters, Bombers - MLB - Kuale, OLB - Dunn, Sherman. The Riders get healthier with Weldon Brown being back after missing the last two games. Kilgore is still feeling his way and should continue to improve. The Bombers miss Ian Wild who has been their best linebacker. This means Kuale will have to take his place at MLB with ex-Rider Kromah coming in on the formations where the Bombers used Kuale last week. Kuale is a hit and miss kind of guy. He's capbable of making big plays but also does boneheaded things like his two offside penalties last week. I gave the Bombers the edge last week, but not after these chances. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - CB - Williams, Jackson, HB - Maze, Harris, S - Brackenridge, Bombers - CB - Randle, Bucknor, HB - Washington, Johnson, S - Leggett. With Weldon Brown back at linebacker, that moves Harris back into his spot in the secondary. It didn't matter if they had also left Harris where he was and put Brown in at HB. I am just happy to have both on the roster and knock Woodney Turenne to the bench. No changes to the Bomber secondary from last week. They had a couple of big breakdowns last week, and as we know, it cost them once big time. Edge Riders
Probable starters: Riders - Jackson, Bombers - Stoudamire. Early in the game after Jackson's big return and Stoudamire making the big mistake feilind the punt inside his 5, it was advantage Riders. That switched in a hurry in the seond half as Stoudamire kept the Rider special teams' dubious streak of TDs allowed alive. With a few more Canadians out, it doesn't get much easier. This rating is not an indictment of Jackson's return abilities but more how our cover teams look compared to the Bombers. Edge Bombers
Probable starters: Riders - MIlo, Bombers -Hajrullahu. Milo definitely hits the uprights more than any other kicker I can think of. Edge Bombers
Probable starters: Riders - Milo, Bombers - Hajrullahu. Bartel got hurt on that last rugby punt that got blocked. He has to exercise better judgment and not risk getting those blocked, and it cost him his health. Milo will punt for the first time since Thanksgiving 2012. To add to our issues, Steinauer is out so Peters has to do the long-snapping. Considering he is also a starting linebaker, unless someone else on the roster can fill in, look for Cronk to make the 42. Edge Bombers
When the Riders have the ball
There's not a lot of surprises these teams are going to throw at each other. I don't expect the Riders do do anything drastic. They will try and establish the run and then use the control passing game. If Durant and Dressler have their timing down, it will really loosen things up to see them hook up on a corner route. You wonder if having Dressler atttract attention is what got Taj to break open last week. IF Getzlaf is not at full speed, we will really need Swain to have some production tomorrow, along with Ryan Smith if he's playing. Kuale is pretty aggressive so play action and missidrection can get him out of position.
The biggest challenge for the Riders will be to handle the Winnipg crowd noise. They completely failed last year and were not much better this year even though the running game got rolling. We cannot keep having to overcome offensive penalites, particuarly ones like 13 men in the huddle. This will be a new challenge for Dan Clark to handle that noise. In two games in the new stadium, the Rides have no scored an offensive TD. That is not a forumla for winning and if that streak keeps up tomorrow, we will not see a win. We may see a wrinkile like a trick play in the 2nd of back to back games.
When the Bombers have the ball
Same as the Riders, I don't expect the Bombers to change a whole lot this week. It will help the play action game and take some pressure off Willy if they can get the running game going, so I expect Grigsby to get some carries early. When he had a couple of big runs early, it seemed to be off formations vs the Bombers blowing the Riders off the ball so look for some misdirection runs.
With Moore out, Denmark will be the featured receiver again for the Bombers. He had a big one in the August game. The Bombers really went for the big one in the first half last week and came close to connecting. If the Riders are playing tight coverage to start, we may see that again as the Bombers try and loosen us up. It's also a way to keep Brackenridge from blitzing too much. Speaking of which, nice adjustment to change the snap count and get him to go offside. Like the Riders, the Bombers may try and run a trick play or two, like a flea flicker to catch our D cheating up.
The first two games were very tight. It's hard to think that one team can beat another 3 times in a matter of one month (unless you have 3 games against some of the East teams). The Rideres need to do better offensively than they have recently in Winnipeg. If they can get the jump on the Bombers early, it could help with the crowd noise. The opposite and it's just going to get nuts. The big problem I see in this game is special teams. If the Bombers get 10 or so points off special teams (or turnovers for that matter), can our offense overcome that? If I go with my heart, I say we squeak out another one.
My score: Roughriders 21 Blue Bombers 20
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