Once this team got to 7-1, it hit uncharted territory for me. The best record I had seen to that point was 6-1 in 2008. I've seen 7-2 at the halfway mark so here's to hoping for a win to continue with the uncharted territory. I've seen some awful Rider teams take on high powered Bomber teams on Labour Day but I've never seen it the other way around. Even in years where the Bombers were terrible we were a decent team, but not much more than .500. Once again this is uncharted territory. The way the Bomber offense has played the matchups don't recquire much thought. I know what you are thinking "this is different, how?". By the way, it's 1:10 right now prior to game day and the Bombers have not updated their depth chart yet, so I'll have to go by last week and info I have picked up online this week.
Projected starters: Riders - Durant, Bombers - Goltz (?). The question mark is because the Bombers haven't ruled out Max Hall if his hand heals up, even though Goltz has taken the first team reps so far. Quite honestly does it matter? Considering Goltz has more mobility, I think I would prefer Hall in there. Darian has 17 TDs and 0 picks. The Bomber QBs have combined this year for 5 TDs and 12 picks. Edge Riders
Projected starters: Riders - Sheets, Bombers - Simpson. The only negative you can say about the running back position is the lack of depth behind Sheets, if Sanders doesn't dress. You think any team is going to worry near as much about our running game if Neal Hughes is the tailback? I didn't think so. This is a position where the Bombers don't need to upgrade. Chad Simpson is a good back and on pace for 1000 yards. He can break tackles and has the speed to take break big ones. His problem this year is getting carries with the Bombers being behind, and defenses keying on him with a passing game that is not feared. Edge Riders
Projected starters: Riders - Dressler, Getzlaf, Simon, Smith, Bagg, Bombers - Edwards, Watson, Denmark, Etienne, Pierce. Did anyone think near halftime of the Montreal game that we could be seeing Rob Bagg starting on Labour Day. His first catch is going to be greated with some kind of ovation. The biggest talk we have had on the site since the Eskimo game is the lack of targets for Geroy Simon. Yes I know we traded for him and he's making good money. But do you mess with what's working just to get the ball to him more? To me that would be very short sighted. We are still only at the halfway mark. His time will come. I know that injuries have a big part in this, but Winnipeg's leading receiver yardage wise is Terrence Edwards, and he would be fourth on the RIders. Getting Cory Watson back will help the Bombers but their depth gets no better as his replacement Rory Kohlert is now out. Considering the fanfare when he was drafted, The Grand Pooblah has underacheived so far. Edge Riders
Projected starters: Riders - T - Fulton, Heenan, G - LaBatte, Tyler, C - Picard, Bombers - T - January, Boatman, G - Swiston, Greaves, C - Sorensen. The first time this year we are facing adversity on the line now Chris Best on the 9 game list. Devin Tyler is the short term answer, but if we want to go back to the same ratio, it's a good thing that Neufeld is back next week. We can discuss long term options then. Along with quarterback, this is the other area that is a big part of the Bombers offensive woes. This is a group that just doesn't protect the passer well enough. Edge Riders
Projected starters: Riders - E - Chick, Foley, T - Shologan, George, Bombers - E - Hall, Mainor, T - Anderson, Turner. That was a very odd game in Edmonton. Our defensive line got a lot of pressure on Reilly and laid a lot of hits on him, but only 3 sacks. John Chick had one of the best games I have seen an end have and be shut out on the stat sheet. I think those hits paid off in the end as on pick by Anderson, Reilly was slighly on his back foot vs leaning foward. This is the one area of the Bomber team that has stood out, which makes you really wonder why they went and picked up Greg Peach. Alex Hall is having a good season rushiing the passer. I like our line, but based on the stats they put up, I'll throw the Bombers a bone here. Supposedly Peach will be on the roster tomorrow. Edge Bombers
Projected starters: Riders - OLB - Brown, Butler, MLB - Williams, Bombers - OLB - Wild, Dunn, MLB - Muamba. Weldon Brown has quietl gone about getting the job done this year. It's ironic that the first time he's getting a lot of publicity is for a play that sealed the game, but he gets fined for too. Rey Williams is still putting up tackle numbers but hasn't made impact plays like sacks in recent weeks. Teams seem to be doing a better job of getting a lineman on him. Henoc Muamba is another bright spot for the Bombers. He's probably the big reason for the Bombers run defense being pretty solid. Edge Riders.
Projected starters: Riders - CB - Harris, Miller, HB - Anderson, Maze, S - Brackenridge, Bombers - CB - Johnson, Stewart, HB - Suber, Washington, S - Muamba. Overall I like the way the Rider secondary has played. These guys can really cover man to man, and Brackenridge is probably the best safety in the league right now. On a play like the one Koch caught over Harris, you just tip your hat to the opposition for a good play. Macho's coverage couldn't have been better. The only weakness this secondary has shown is there are still too many plays in a game where they get mixed up and have a blown coverage. Stamps first TD and Koch's TD were results of this. 3/5 of the Bomber secondary are the same guys from their stellar defense of 2011. What has happened? The play of guys like Johnson and Suber has really fallen off. But based on what happened in Hamilton last year, I wonder if this group has been Creehaned. This is a condition that devastates a defense, similar to being Marshalled. Wahington is actually their bright spot. Edge Riders
Projected starters: Riders - Jackson, Bombers - Woods. Nice to see Tristan Jackson back as a returner for the Riders. It looks like we are going to use him in the spot that's ideal for him Strictly as a returner. Aaron Woods has been imprressive for the Bombers since they got him on the roster to return kicks. He gets spelled off the odd time on punt returns by Washington and Johnson. You have to think T.Jack is will be a little rusty. Edge Bombers
Projected starters: Riders - Milo, Bombers - DiAngeles. For the third time this year the Riders will play in a game where both FG kickers are at 100%. Milo doing it over 21 kicks is of course more impressive than Sandro's 3. Sandro becomes another guy who will experience Labour Day from both sides. I know 75% isn't fantastic, but was it bad enough for Palardy to lose his job? Let's hope Milo's streak continues. "Another kick for Milos" Edge Riders
Projected starters: Riders - Schmitt, Bombers - Renaud. Nothing to talk about here either. Schmitt had another solid game punting, got great hang time, and allowed our coverage team to do their usual stellar job. Renaud's numbers are pretty good, so I really don't understand why the Bombers brought in McKnight. I could have mentioend that in the placekicking section too. Edge Riders
When the Riders have the ball
The first quarter has been an improvement in the last two weeks, but the Riders could still get off to better starts offensively. Last week, the team moved the ball but the problem was finishing drives early. How jacked up will the crowd be if the first play of the game was a completion to Rob Bagg? Even a little 5 yard slant or out route. This is a recording...the Riders weill keep pounding Sheets early and the opposition will be geared up to stop it. H. Muamba will be zeroing in on Sheets. The challenge for our blocking schemes will be to get a hat on him. Earlier in the year we were asking for more play-action early in the game. THe last two weeks we have seen it. Against Montreal we opened up with a long corner route to Smith, where he was open and had Darian connected it would have been a huge play. Last week we went with a similar play on 2nd and 1 on our first drive and hit a big one to Dressler. This should give teams something to think about so that they are not selling out too much early.
The Bombers are allowing a whopping 71% completeion percentage against the pass this year. They are also giving up over 9 yards per pass play, also near the bottom. In fact outside of sacks, the Bombers rank near the bottom of all pass defense stats. Does it mean sacks are over-rated? No you still love getting sacks and they are drive killers, but I am thinking that the Bombers aren't getting consistent pressure. When they made the big changes recently, one of the things Burke said was they want to secondary to play more aggressive. In the two games against Hank, I haven't seen it. Sorry to see Hefney not in the Bomber secondary. Dressler has had a field day on him in the last two labour days. I don't see the Bombers secondary as having one particularly weak link, so I don't see us picking on anyone for our matchup. This means look to see more of the usual where Dressler and Getzlaf are the main targets. As I mentioned earlier about Simon, I am in the camp where if the offense is moving the ball and Darian is finding open guys, I don't care what the stats look like.
We haven't had a question mark on the offensive line since week one where everyone wondered how Ben Heenan would handle the Eskimo defensive ends. That concern seems even longer than 2 months ago now doesn't it. Devon Tyler is a big dude and has CFL experience but it's still a disruption to the line, and I think he played as a tackle in Edmonton. Running behind him should not be an issue. How he will hold up in pass protection needs to be seen. I think it's harder for a defense to pick on a guard than a tackle with stunts and blitzes, but could be wrong. Elmer??
Recall that Creehan was Cortez's defensive coordinator last year. That might have been a decision that cost Cortez his job in Hamilton. If this is more Creehan's defense than Burke's my money is on Cortez to have the advantage in this matchup due to familiarity than Creehan.
When the Bombers have the ball
As the Bombers incorporate Marcel's offense more and more it's hard to say exactly what they weill come out with. I'll make the joke now. If Marcel bring out the Rider offense circa 2005, look for lots of draw plans to Simpson and hitch screens to Edwards. One thing they should do a lot of (not saying they will) is give us a heavy dose of Simpson It doesn't matter who they start at QB, discounting Pierce there will not be a tonne of experience. They have to get the running game going to take the pressure off them, along with quieting the crowed etc. Cory Watson's blocking skills will be welcomed back along with his receiving skills. With him and FB Pontbriand, the Bombers have the personal to go with the 2 TE set that Calgary use. Goltz is the most mobile of their QBs so if he starts we could see a steady dose of the zone read. If the Bombers go this route, the Rider line needs to keep the Bomber o-line off our linebackers so that they can make plays. Our guys need to make sure they swarm to the ball and use proper tackling methods vs going for the kill shot or putting a shoulder into Simpson. He won't go down that easily.
Yeah, I know this can come back and bite me, but I really don't fear the Bomber passing attack. Terrance Edwards and Cory Watson willl be their main targets. They are slots so they will be seeing Anderson and Maze most of the time. Watson although bigger and stronger is a better matchup for DA than a speeed guy like Stamps. I like our halfbacks chance of taking care of these guys.
I expect the Riders to give all kinds of looks up front and try and confuse the Bombers QB and their blocking schemes. You can bet they are counting on crowd noise to make it hard to audible or change protections. Rey Williams made a comment on Riderville this week about being excited about the game plan and getting back to some things from earlier in the year. Just a hunch but we might see us keeping 4 linemen in on passing downs vs taking one out and going smaller.
Outside of the "any given day" routine where anything can happen like injuries, freak plays etc, there is no reason to doubt the result tomorrow. The Riders are simply a better team. Even in 2011 when the Bombers were a much better team, the Riders arguably had the better QB. The Bombers can make no such claim this year. One or more of the following has to happen for the Riders to lose tomorrow: team doesn's show up, catestrophic in game injuries, huge breakdowns like blown coverages , turnovers, and special teams disasters leading to TDs. Without that it should be a win.
My score: Roughriders 31 Blue Bombers 14
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