CFL Preview - Calgary (8-6) at Winnipeg (4-10)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 13, 1:00 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: Desperate to win back-to-back games for the first time this season, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers try to make it happen on Saturday afternoon at Canad Inns Stadium when they host the Calgary Stampeders.
Victories have been few and far between for the Blue Bombers this season, the team enjoying a grand total of just four triumphs in 14 opportunities. But lately they've been trending on the positive side with two wins in their last three outings, including a surprising 27-22 upset of Montreal earlier this week, on the road no less.
Against the Alouettes, a team which leads the Eastern Division standings, Winnipeg's Joey Elliott, the squad's third different starting signal-caller this season, completed 17-of-25 passes for a hefty 335 yards and three touchdowns. Chris Matthews did most of the damage on the receiving end as he caught six balls for a team-best 143 yards in the triumph. Rory Kohlert and Terrence Edwards added majors of 15 and 50 yards through the air, respectively.
As for the Stampeders, they started out slowly in their meeting on the road against British Columbia last weekend and were never able to fully recover as they bowed in a 27-22 final. Calgary managed just six points in the first half and trailed by double digits at the break, making a comeback bid all the more difficult.
Kicker Rene Paredes tried to answer the bell for the visitors as he knocked through all three of his field goal attempts, but a staggering 13 penalties for a loss of 143 yards was the team's undoing.
Starting quarterback Kevin Glenn, playing in his 200th career CFL game, converted 18-of-33 passes for 242 yards and one score, but he was also picked off twice and sacked once. Nik Lewis didn't find the end zone for the Stamps, but he did make a game-high six catches, resulting in 77 yards which put him over the 1,000-yard mark for the ninth straight year.
Lewis, who leads the league in yards after the catch with 488, has a league- best 84 receptions which have led to eight touchdowns, second only to Weston Dressler who has 10 for Saskatchewan. Now ranked 14th in CFL history with 10,256 receiving yards, Lewis could still advance a few more places on the list as long as he remains an active participant in the Calgary offense moving forward.
Over the course of 18 career games against Winnipeg, Lewis has reeled in a total of 100 receptions for an average of just over 14 yards per catch and while he has registered seven TDs during that time, he has not posted one versus the Bombers since the 2008 campaign.
However, this might be the right time for Lewis and Glenn to strike, seeing as how Winnipeg ranks seventh in the league with 26 passing touchdowns allowed and a scoring defense that is second from the bottom with 30.6 ppg permitted overall. Then again, what Glenn has to be aware of heading into this matchup is the fact that Winnipeg defensive end Alex Hall is tied for the league lead in sacks with nine in this his first year in the CFL after spending time bouncing around in the NFL for a few years.
As a whole, Winnipeg is tied with Montreal for the league lead in sacks with 32 so Glenn needs to be on his toes and ready to get rid of the football without much hesitation. Then again, Calgary is one of the better teams in the league at preventing sacks, allowing just 24 (third-best), so perhaps Glenn might be better off than most signal-callers in the league.
While the Bombers are quite active in getting after opposing QBs, the bad news is that the team's own passing attack is considerably weaker than all others. In fact, Winnipeg is the only club that is completing passes at less than 60 percent (.586) and has more interceptions (16) than touchdowns (13) after 14 games. Surely, much of that can be blamed on the team's inability to keep a consistent starter in the lineup so perhaps the Bombers have a built-in excuse as to why this season is turning out as poorly as it has to this point.
Calgary, which leads the all-time series with the Blue Bombers by 10 games, is shooting for its 100th victory in the relationship dating back to 1945 and taking into consideration only regular-season bouts. The Stamps pummeled Winnipeg in the most recent matchup last month by a score of 44-3 at home, which means Calgary has won six in a row and seven of the last eight versus the Blue Bombers.
With so much riding on these final games of the season, neither one of these teams can afford a let down. But there's something to be said about experience in tough times and right now Calgary surpasses the Blue Bombers in that area.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Calgary 28, Winnipeg 24
10/10 10:49:14 ET