CFL Preview - Edmonton (3-1) at Winnipeg (0-4)|
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Thursday, July 26, 8:30 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: It may be hard to believe, but only a few months ago the Winnipeg
Blue Bombers were sizing up the British Columbia Lions in the 99th Grey Cup,
and now the club stands as the only winless squad entering Week 5 of the CFL's
2012 campaign. The Bombers hope they can get on track this Thursday night when
they finally open the home portion of their schedule at Canad Inns Stadium
against the Edmonton Eskimos.
Winnipeg has been hit hard with injuries already, particularly at the
quarterback position where first-stringer Buck Pierce suffered torn ligaments
and a torn muscle in his left foot, and backup Alex Brink has also missed some
action due to taking a few too many hits.
The Blue Bombers tried yet again to work their way into the win column last
week and came very close before suffering a 25-22 setback at Toronto.
Brink was largely ineffective versus the Argonauts as he completed just 9-of-34
passes for 185 yards and was picked off twice. The signal-caller did hit the
end zone on a one-yard run in the second quarter to cap a drive of slightly
more than 50 yards, but other than that there was little to cheer about from
the Winnipeg offense.
Bombers kicker Justin Palardy certainly made things interesting as he converted
all five of his field goal attempts on his way to capturing CFL Special Teams
Player of the Week honors. But at the same time, the Winnipeg defense proved to
be too lenient in giving up nearly 400 yards of offense to the hosts and
folding late in the fourth quarter when a victory was still possible.
As for the Eskimos, they are the team that has been unexpectedly successful
thus far, registering three wins in four tries as they break in a new starting
Last Friday night, Edmonton started out slow against British Columbia on the
road at BC Place, scoring just six points through the first 30 minutes of
action, but with the defense limiting the scoring opportunities for the Lions,
the Eskimos were able to register a 27-14 victory.
Edmonton quarterback Steven Jyles, who took a shot to the head late in the
third quarter and was knocked out of the game, had little to do with the
victory as he completed 10-of-16 passes for 150 yards and an interception
before exiting. Backup Kerry Joseph hit on 4-of-6 tosses for 60 yards but he
too had a pass picked off.
Running back Hugh Charles was crucial as he gained a game-high 118 yards and
scored on a five-yard effort early in the second half.
Edmonton scored 14 unanswered points to close out the meeting thanks to a
couple of field goals by Grant Shaw, he booted a total of four in the meeting,
and an interception returned 108 yards for a major by Joe Burnett, with the
latter subsequently being named the CFL Defensive Player of the Week for his
Now at 3-1, the Eskimos are tied with Saskatchewan for the best record in the
West Division and the CFL overall for that matter, somehow making it happen
despite ranking next-to-last in the league in scoring with a mere 22.3 ppg.
While it may seem as though Edmonton is getting the job done with smoke and
mirrors, the reality is that the defense for the Eskimos has been shouldering
much of the burden through the first four games. Opponents have been limited
to a mere 14.0 ppg, by far the best mark in the league, 5.5 ppg ahead of
second-place Saskatchewan as the teams enter play this week.
Edmonton is getting the job done in spite of the efforts of Jyles who is
completing passes at just 57.1 percent and has an efficiency ranking of 72.2
due to the fact that he has just a single TD pass and three interceptions.
Unfortunately for the Bombers, their troubles at quarterback have been well
documented already and they need Brink to somehow get in gear and become a
leader immediately. As a team, Winnipeg is by far the weakest passing program
with a mere 49.3 percent on completions and an awful 60.4 efficiency, having
tossed almost twice as many INTs (seven) as TDs (three).
As much as Winnipeg needs Brink to beef up his numbers, the signal-caller has
been absolutely brutal when standing in the pocket, hitting on just 41.5
percent of his throws.
It also doesn't help that Winnipeg is by far the most lenient team in terms of
points allowed, giving up a hefty 35.3 ppg.
In terms of the all-time, regular-season series between these two programs,
Edmonton owns a 92-79-3 advantage dating back to 1949, thanks in part to a
42-10 romp at home over the Bombers just two weeks ago. The Esks have now taken
two straight and three of the last four encounters overall.
Perhaps finally getting to play in front of a favorable crowd will buoy the
hopes of the Bombers, but being the only team in the CFL that has yet to win a
game has still placed them in a deep hole at this early stage nevertheless.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Edmonton 31, Winnipeg 16
07/25 10:40:46 ET