In prime time on Saturday night in the CFL, two of the best quarterbacks in the league will go toe-to-toe in a West Division battle as the BC Lions get set to take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
The Lions have faced recent struggles in the win-loss column, especially against their own division. BC is riding a three-game losing streak, all of which have come at the hand of West opponents.
BC head coach Rick Campbell acknowledged the teams recent defeats and asserts that the team needs to use this as a learning opportunity.
“We’ve got to learn from what’s happened over the last few weeks,” said Campbell of his team’s recent play. “We’re right in the mix of this and we need to keep plugging away and fighting.”
Things won’t get any easier for BC this week as they will be travelling to the hostile territory of IG Field in hopes of delivering the Bombers their second loss of the season.
In the teams’ last meeting, Winnipeg got the better of the Lions, defeating them 30-9 at BC Place to kick off the month of October in Week 9.
However, Campbell remains confident in his team’s ability to perform in tough situations on the road.
“I know our guys like it, they’ve liked playing on the road this year,” said Campbell on playing in Winnipeg. “I think they’re going to be excited about going into hostile territory and putting our best foot forward.”
Despite their recent slide, the Lions have proven to be a tough team to play against on the road. Through the 2021 regular season BC has a record of 3-1 when forced to travel.
BC cannot rely solely on the fact that they are a good road team. They will need to build on a disappointing loss to the Stampeders, which saw quarterback Michael Reilly throw for just 145 yards and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Reilly hadn’t thrown for under 200 yards since Week 3.
While the Lions are certainly missing the deep threat ability of Lucky Whitehead, they will be provided another big play option in the form of DeVier Posey. Posey signed with the Lions on October 8 and will suit up this weekend.
The fifth year wideout provides pure route running and the ability to separate from coverage in an instant. In 2019 Posey recorded 780 yards and three touchdowns on 50 receptions and has amassed over 2,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in his first four seasons. He is surely a welcome passing option for Reilly and the Lions offence.
Though the Winnipeg defence won’t make things easy on the BC offensive unit, the Blue and Gold have been having a historic year on the defensive side of the ball.
Through their first 10 games of the season the Bombers defence has given up an average of just 12.6 points per game, the lowest allowed point total since 1966.
What’s even more impressive is their defensive prowess in the fourth quarter; Winnipeg is holding teams to an average of 0.60 points in the final quarter of action, the lowest allowed fourth quarter point total in CFL history.
With four games left to play, the Bombers have held teams to no points in the fourth quarter in eight of their 10 games played and have yet to allow a touchdown in the final frame, making them the only team in league history to do so.
Additionally, the Bombers defensive backs have been one of the most aggressive pass defending units in the league. The Blue and Gold secondary have forced a league leading 12 interceptions this season.
However, on the offensive side of the ball Winnipeg will be without running back Andrew Harris, who has been placed on the six-game injured list.
Harris has been the focal point of the Bombers offensive attack totalling 623 rush yards, while averaging 5.4 yards per carry. Harris’ efficiency when running the ball has allowed the Winnipeg offence to play free and create big play opportunities by baiting teams into making incorrect reads on play-action designs.
Without Harris, the team will be looking to second year back Brady Oliveira to tote the rock. Oliveira has been handed the ball 61 times on the season and has rush for 300 yards, including a 126-yard debut in Week 1.
Most recently the Bombers called on Oliveira to take over ball carrying duties in their Week 11 win. Oliveira’s number was called 16 times and he rushed for 105 yards, the most yardage by any running back in Week 11. Winnipeg can take comfort in the impressive efforts from Oliveira.
With a win an on Saturday night, the Bombers will clinch a home playoff game and secure first place in the West for the first time since 2011.
Kickoff is slated for 7:00 p.m. ET and can be watched on TSN and ESPN+ or followed along on CFL.ca’s Game Tracker.