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CFL Preview - Winnipeg (2-8) at Calgary (6-4)



From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Friday, September 14, 9:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: The Calgary Stampeders try to extend their win streak to four in a row this week, as they host the slumping Winnipeg Blue Bombers at McMahon Stadium on Friday night.

The Stampeders, currently second in the West Division standings with a record of 6-4, have had a number of close calls of late but have managed to survive. Last Friday, the squad slipped by Edmonton on the road in a 20-18 final, just four days after surviving a 31-30 decision against the same Eskimos squad.

As for the Blue Bombers, their campaign has been absolutely dismal, the team's meager 2-8 mark the worst in the CFL. In fact, only Hamilton (3-7) currently carries a record that is also below .500. Since defeating the Tiger-Cats for one of their only victories here in 2012, the Bombers have bowed in three straight outings, the most recent of those coming last Sunday in a narrow 25-24 decision against Saskatchewan. As disappointing as the outcome was, perhaps Winnipeg can take some solace in the fact that only seven days earlier the team was blown away by the Roughriders in a 52-0 thrashing in Regina.

The lowest scoring team in the league with just 20.0 ppg, Winnipeg could have easily slipped into the win column once again during Week 11 action in what is now known as the Banjo Bowl, but it simply wasn't in the cards. With under one minute remaining in regulation, the Bombers opted to punt deep in Saskatchewan territory instead of attempting a field goal which would have given the home team a more sizeable advantage. After adding just a single point to the lead, the Bombers were forced to go on the defensive and that's where it all fell apart.

With just seconds remaining in the final period, Saskatchewan quarterback Drew Willy, who stepped in for Darian Durant who was still ailing from an injury suffered the week before, scrambled for major yardage to put the Roughriders in line for a game-winning 40-yard field goal, which was promptly nailed by Sandro DeAngelis.

Winnipeg failed to score a single point on offense, instead it was Justin Palardy and his 5-of-7 effort on field goals and Demond Washington's 82-yard punt return for a major that made up the bulk of the team's scoring. Quarterback Joey Elliott connected on 19-of-33 passes for 241 yards, but he was sacked two times as the squad finished with only 82 yards rushing.

While landing in the loss column continues to be the manner in which the Blue Bombers will ultimately be judged this season, there was some good news for the team as Washington was named the CFL Special Team's Player of the Week and Jason Vegas, with his six tackles and three sacks, was named the CFL Defensive Player of the Week.

Earlier in the week, the Stamps had a close call of their own, but in their case they were able to pull out the two-point victory over Edmonton on the road even though they were held scoreless in both the second and third quarters.

Running back Jon Cornish held it together for the visitors as he ran for a career-best 185 yards and a score on 16 carries, his long of 59 yards leading him to the end zone for the final points scored by Calgary in the fourth quarter. For his efforts, Cornish was named the top Canadian player for the third straight week, and the fifth time this season.

Kevin Glenn appeared to be on his way to a solid outing as he tossed a 37-yard TD to Johnny Forzani in the first period, the signal-caller finishing the night 19-of-30 for 254 yards and a pair of interceptions, which made things rather interesting.

Over the years, Glenn has had his ups and downs against the Winnipeg defense, throwing for an average of almost 260 ypg and hitting for 18 touchdowns, but at the same time he has tossed 14 interceptions as well. Hopefully Cornish can give the QB some adequate support this time around, even though he has been used sparingly, if at all, during the 10 games in which he has been with the Stamps and clashed with Winnipeg. Cornish has gained a grand total of just 107 yards and scored only once, but assuming he is able to come close to any of his recent efforts, those numbers should be dwarfed rather easily.

Winnipeg's passing attack is by far the weakest in the CFL through 10 games, the team completing just 57.1 percent of its attempts and displaying an efficiency rating of 73.9 while six of the other seven clubs are at 92.0 or above. Part of the problem is the juggling of quarterbacks for sure, the team starting the season with Buck Pierce before going to Alex Brink and then Elliott.

As far as the all-time, regular-season series is concerned, the Stamps own a 98-89 advantage dating back to 1945. Calgary has won five straight over Winnipeg, including a 30-24 decision at home last November in the most recent encounter.

As they showed last week, sometimes the Blue Bombers simply cannot get out of their own way. Not having a starting quarterback who was ready at the very beginning of the season doesn't help matters.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Calgary 31, Winnipeg 20

09/13 15:22:45 ET


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