2022-11-13 Game Tracker - BC Lions vs. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (6295)

BC Lions


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.cfl.ca/games/6295/bc-lions-vs-winnipeg-blue-bombers/#preview

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WESTERN FINAL SPOTLIGHT

BC Lions at Winnipeg Blue Bombers
​IG Field
​Sunday, November 13 at 4:30 p.m. ET
Purchase Eastern Final tickets

At a glance:

  • Winnipeg will be playing in their fourth straight Western Final, and is hosting for a second consecutive season.
  • BC will be playing in their first Western Final since 2016.
  • Winnipeg is 41-19-2 (.674) at home in the playoffs.
  • Home teams in the Western Final are 28-20 (.583) since 1973.
  • BC owns an 11-24 (.314) road record in the playoffs.
  • Winnipeg won the 2022 season series 2-1:
  • The Lions and the Blue Bombers have met in the Western Final three times with the most recent being in 1985. BC is 2-1.
  • BC’s Rick Campbell is 4-1 as a head coach in the playoffs; Winnipeg’s Mike O’Shea will be helming his eighth playoff game (4-3).
  • BC’s Nathan Rourke will be making his second start in the playoffs (1-0); Winnipeg’s Zach Collaros will be starting in his sixth career playoff contest (4-1).
  • In the West Semi-Final, Nathan Rourke became the first Canadian QB to lead his team to a playoff win since Gerry Dattilio in 1980.
  • In the regular season, Rourke is 0-2 against Winnipeg, while Collaros is 9-2 against BC.
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Quarterback

If Nathan Rourke looked fully healthy in the Western Semi-Final then I think this would be more of a conversation.

Zach Collaros had a restful month in October with plenty of time to study the Lions, and plot his game plan in the journey towards a third Grey Cup appearance. Tough circumstances for anyone to overcome, perhaps even a fully healthy Rourke.

These are the two best quarterbacks from the CFL this season. To see them head-to-head in a charged up environment is going to be electric. Rourke will have to harness all his experience, savvy and athleticism to keep it close if Collaros is operating at the height of his powers as I expect he will be.

ADVANTAGE: WINNIPEG


Running backs

Over the first half of the season I would suggest that James Butler was better than any combination of backs in Winnipeg.

However, in the second half of the year Winnipeg’s Brady Oliveira grew into the player we thought he would be. The Bombers offensive line have also really been helping to drive the ground game.

ADVANTAGE: WINNIPEG


Receivers

Dalton Schoen has somehow, in his rookie year, become the centrepiece of Collaros’ aerial attack.

Bryan Burnham, Keon Hatcher and Alexander Hollins will have to carry the majority of the load in BC, with my wildcard being how much Dominique Rhymes can change the game.

I have immense respect for the Lions pass-catchers, but Winnipeg at home with those fans and that quarterback have felt damn near unstoppable for much of the season.

ADVANTAGE: WINNIPEG


Offensive line

Part of this is Oliveira running with a true sense of purpose as mentioned earlier, but Winnipeg started the year unhappy with their run blocking aggression and finished it behind only Calgary in rush yards per game.

With Stanley Bryant once again nominated for top lineman in the CFL surrounded by veterans and a scheme as sound as any in the league, the advantage goes to Winnipeg despite BC’s ability to protect Rourke consistently through his magical start to the season.

The question with BC is whether Rourke can get the ball out as quickly as he did early in the season to help that BC line. But with Winnipeg, I know Collaros will deliver on time.

ADVANTAGE: WINNIPEG


Defensive line

I can already see the Blue and Gold eyebrows raising as I type this.

Yes, Willie Jefferson is my favourite super hero too, but the facts are as follows.

Winnipeg’s sack rate is substantially down this season and while they have done a masterful job against the run, I think BC’s defensive line has done a tremendous job creating pressure with different looks up front.

BC’s Mathieu Betts has regained his early Edmonton form in a group that rolls eight-deep to stay fresh long into the fourth quarter. It’s minimal, and Jefferson could take over with just a few big plays as he is known to do, but I lean BC here.

ADVANTAGE: BC


Linebacker

Adam Bighill is the best at what he does, but is it enough to overcome a young and hungry group of Lions?

Jordan Williams is special and Ben Hladik has allowed flexibility between middle and weak side linebacker, while Emmanuel Rugamba has stepped up in a big way on the strong side.

At the end of the day, Bighill’s experience, eyes and discipline while supported by his own collection of young physical backers gives the advantage to Winnipeg over a really fun collection of Canadian talent in BC.

ADVANTAGE: WINNIPEG


Defensive backs

The Lions have four of the top 20 interception leaders in the CFL this season and have been steady as a unit over the closing stages of 2022.

The one matchup they’ve really struggled with? Zach Collaros and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. While I give the Lions a hat tip here, like all of you, I am well aware of the challenge they face this Sunday.

ADVANTAGE: BC


Return Game

Janarion Grant is the star in this head-to-head matchup with Terry Williams.

Sunday’s matchup will be a showcase between two of the top-five return men in the CFL. Grant has three return touchdowns and would blow the snowy roof off IG Field if he added another this Sunday.

ADVANTAGE: WINNIPEG


Kicking Game

Stefan Flintoft has the minimal edge over Winnipeg’s Marc Liegghio in the punting battle. While BC’s Sean Whyte leads the CFL in field goal percentage.

The Bombers kicking game is much less of a concern this year compared to last, but BC still gets the head-to-head benefit of the doubt, unless the conditions create mayhem.

ADVANTAGE: BC

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Personally, I think Rourke vs Collaros is the biggest storyline in either game this week.

Rourke vs Collaros

Our main man Marshall Ferguson laid it out well in his Head To Head column on the Western Final. This highly anticipated QB battle may not be what we saw even back in that Week 5 meeting between these two teams and health is a big factor in that.

We know that Collaros is healthy and rested, being finely tuned and ready for the Western Final thanks to his team’s incredible 15-3 record. Securing the top spot in the West has given Collaros a great luxury in terms of rest and preparation. It also helps that he went through the exact same process last year, meaning that rust and/or a high-pressure moment like a single-elimination game with a potential dynasty on the line won’t feel all that foreign to him.

Rourke, unfortunately, sits on the opposite side of this equation. He led his team to a win over Calgary in the Western Semi-Final, but we could see the effects of his foot injury lingering at points. Rourke and the Lions will manage that injury through this week and do everything they can to have their star player ready for Sunday but physically, Rourke won’t be where Collaros is at this point in the season.

Inexperience has to factor in here as well. While Rourke has shown he’s fully capable of looking like he’s wearing a cape when he takes the field, he could be hobbling onto a tremendous stage on Sunday. We saw something similar in another first-year starter in that Western Semi-Final, with Jake Maier‘s 12-22, 138-yard effort. If Rourke can go out and play at that high level we saw in the first 11 weeks of the season, it would be the best chapter yet in the remarkable story he’s writing this year.

What actually determines the QB battle

While most everyone will think of the CFL’s two best pivots colliding on Sunday, what it really comes down to is a defensive battle. The defensive unit that slows the quarterback best will likely steer their team to a win and a trip to Regina for a shot at the 109th Grey Cup.

These are two pretty evenly matched defences. The Bombers allowed a league-low 19.2 points from opposing offences this year; BC was right behind them at 20.7 points. The Bombers were tops in opponents’ net offence, at 327.3 yards per game, while the Lions were third at 329.9. The Bombers allowed the fewest offensive touchdowns in the league (27), with the Lions were third (36). BC was second in limiting first downs (353) and the Lions were third (354).

The Lions may have the edge on defensive pressure. Their 45 sacks this year was third in the league, while the Bombers managed 36, which had them at eighth. Another BC edge comes in two-and-outs forced. The Lions had 84, tying them for third with Toronto, while the Bombers had a league-worst 63.

Still, the Bombers were second in the turnover ratio this year, at plus-14. The Lions were third, at plus-eight.

The sign says it all: Loudest fans in the CFL

The Blue Bombers’ loud and passionate fans have had plenty to cheer about the last two years, as they’ve seen their team lose just once at home (The Canadian Press)

Winning in Winnipeg has been a one-sided affair the last two seasons. The Blue Bombers are an astounding 15-1 at IG Field and that doesn’t include last year’s Western Final victory over Saskatchewan.

As the wins and the hardware have accumulated these last few years in Winnipeg, the atmosphere at Bombers’ games has also ramped up. Whether you’re one of the 30,000 people in the stands or just watching on your couch at home, the energy at IG Field — it can be a scorching hot summer day or a frigidly cold afternoon in December like last year’s Western Final — might be the very best in the league this year. You can’t just have a sign at field level declaring that IG Field is the home of the league’s loudest fans if it isn’t true.

The Lions will have to play through noise, cool weather (a projected daytime temperature of minus-five Celsius that could feel like minus-nine) and, oh, a potentially historically great opponent on Sunday. The road to the Grey Cup goes through Winnipeg and it isn’t an easy one.

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Jamie Nye's picks:

BC at Winnipeg
Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET

WINNIPEG QUARTERBACK ZACH COLLAROS HAS BEEN NAMED A FINALIST FOR THE LEAGUE’S MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER AWARD. HE WOULD BE THE FIFTH PLAYER IN LEAGUE HISTORY TO WIN THE AWARD IN CONSECUTIVE SEASONS (BCLIONS.COM).

Impressive. Nathan Rourke was simply that in his first career playoff start. It appeared that nothing was about to shake the Lions quarterback as he moved the ball on a few crucial drives, especially the final touchdown to Bryan Burnham to hold off any momentum the Stampeders were gaining with Bo Levi Mitchell at quarterback.

The Lions shut down the Stampeders, although I wasn’t overly impressed with Jake Maier’s game any way.

The challenge this week looks a lot different with Zach Collaros, Nic Demski, Dalton Schoen, Rasheed Bailey and Brady Oliviera. Oliviera had a sensational finish to the season.

In his first six weeks of the season, he had no games of over 60-yards rushing. He had nine in his final 12 games.

Of course, the only time these two teams could say they had a complete lineup on the field against each other was in Week 5 of the regular season when the Bombers treated the Lions to their only loss in the first half of the season to the tune of 43-22.

It felt like all the hype that was going on early in the season, the Bombers went into Vancouver ready to remind everyone who the big dog in the yard was. They proved it.

After Sunday’s win by the Lions, I’m sure Richie Hall and Mike O’Shea were watching closely and saw that Rourke is limited in the pocket to actually move around.

The Bombers could do a few things to challenge Rourke on Sunday in a much colder IG Field. Blitz him to make him move a lot or drop a lot of players in coverage, knowing Rourke isn’t going to chew you up running the football. Or you drop eight or nine into coverage when you can and see if you can force Rourke into a few bad throws.

Now for the Lions, you know Ryan Phillips will come ready to throw more new looks at Zach Collaros and challenge the rust that may have built up in the last few weeks for the Bombers.

It’s been almost five weeks since the Bombers played in a game that would impact the standings. The same thing happened last year and the Bombers didn’t look great.

Zach Collaros threw three interceptions, but the Winnipeg defence was able to hold the Riders to just three points on those turnovers on their way to a 21-17 win.

While I don’t see a repeat of that games turnovers from Collaros, I do see Collaros and company once again quieting another western rival and advancing to the 2022 Grey Cup.

PICK: WINNIPEG (60 confidence bonus)

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No, nope, because Bombers used up all their luck the last 2 years, last year Ti cats should have won. It's cold, snowy, and slippery field conditions, so the ball bounces funny to Lions.
Lions are hungrier, hear them roar.
Bombers are satiated, hear them snore.
Nate sets new records, galore.
He will never be a boring bore

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How the Lions are able to handle the Winnipeg weather could be a big story in the game.

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Yup, some beautiful WPG weather for those wimpy Westerners!

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LOL!! Go Lions Go

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The Lions are big boys. It comes to the running game as a difference maker.

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That was as much of a Ticats choke job as it was dumb luck. Nichols breaking up that Masoli to Aklin pass in the endzone wasn’t luck it was skill. Fact is Hamilton had 9 point lead and wasn't able to hold on to it.

I am not saying BC can’t win. I am saying Winnipeg looked on point in the first quarter 2 weeks ago when both teams were playing best on best. Should be a great game that in all honesty should be for the Grey Cup, not the West Division.

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The temp. means something true, but anybody knows the windchill is what matters. What the wind is up to that day is a bigger question.

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You better hope not. Can’t see BC outrunning Winnipeg. Butler looks cold already. Now if Rourke is on I can see a great passing show being the difference.

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You may be right.

Might have to pvr the game (Kids Field Lacrosse Tournament in Richmond time TBD.)

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Lol! You may have missed this little nugget up above.
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Thanks for the heads-up.

Guess I have to rely on the Lions passing and Rourke being on point.

But still the run has to be established the Lions offensive line has to be stellar (not sure how QB sacks allowed) for the Lions to have a chance.

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