Canada Day Preview – Saskatchewan vs Winnipeg
Published: Friday, Jun 30th 2017, 4:06pm
Tomorrow is a big day for Saskatchewan. Not only is it the 150th birthday of this great country of ours, but it is also the birth of something new and exciting. Tomorrow, New Mosaic Stadium is truly born when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers open their 27th consecutive season of “Unfinished Business” in the new home of Ridernation.
Tomorrow night, 33,000 of your fellow green and white clad rider fans will descend upon our new home and show Winnipeg and the CFL just how loud we can be.
It’s hard to do a preview for a team that we haven’t seen yet this year, but let’s go ahead and give it a shot.
I think these two teams are fairly even offensively. I have to give Winnipeg the advantage in the backfield. Andrew Harris and Matt Nichols are a much more formidable pair than Kevin Glenn and Cameron Marshall. But that is where their offensive advantage ends. Last week, Saskatchewan showed distinct improvement along the offensive line, and they will only continue to improve as they gel together as a unit. We know the receivers we’ve got are amongst the best in the league, depending on which version of Duron Carter shows up.
Backfield: Advantage Winnipeg
Offensive Line: Advantage Saskatchewan
Wide Receivers: Advantage Saskatchewan
When you lose what is likely your only legitimate (for now) starter in your linebacker corps a couple of days before the game, and he happens to be Canadian, you know you’re in for a rough ride. Henoc Muamba’s injury hurts, but it comes at a time when Sam Eguavoen will return from the one game injured list. Without even looking at Winnipeg’s LB depth chart, I would give them the advantage solely on lack of experience.
Along those same lines, as long as Chris Jones and the Riders roll out their 3 man rush, I will be giving the defensive line advantage to almost any opponent in the CFL. While we did a decent job of getting pressure on Darian Durant last week (27%+ of passing plays according to Derek Taylor), the 3 man rush mitigates that anytime it comes about.
On the plus side, our DB unit looked strong against a decent receiver group last week, and will need to do the same this week. Nobody in the Blue Bombers receiver group scares me like Earnest Jackson last week, but they will be a consistent unit that can make big plays and we have to be prepared for the deep ball.
Defensive Line: Winnipeg
Defensive Backfield: Saskatchewan
Justin Medlock is, in my opinion, the best field goal kicker in the CFL. They also have the advantage of a dual position kicker as Medlock is also a sufficient punter. He was one of Winnipeg’s best pickups last season.
If preseason tells you anything, Ryan Lankford will be back returning kicks for the Bombers. He showed well in preseason, but I’ll hold judgement until I see him do it under the lights for them for real.
On the flip side, Nic Demski has looked decent in the past. Rarely a threat to break one, but he does regularly get decent return yards.
Teams aside, I think this is the game where Ridernation truly makes a difference. As long as the Riders come out of the gate with any kind of passion, and allow the fans a chance to do their part, home field advantage will play a huge part in this game.
Prediction: Riders win this one running away. 31-14
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