Edmonton should be heavy favourites heading into Hamilton. Reilly, or Franklyn for that matter should gash the Hamilton defense for minimum 30+ pts - perhaps even 40.
Esks Achilles heel, although much improved is still their defense - and Z Collaros should be able to gash them early until Esks adjust and close Collaros out in the 3rd quarter. Bowman & Walker are just too much for the paltry hobos Austin will trot out to resemble a CFL defense. Reilly will have to be massively off his game for Hamilton to have a chance - and then Maas has his secret weapon - James Franklyn! The only balancing factor is weather. Sloppy, cold and snowy weather might be a bit of an equalizer - not sure how much as it will effect Hamilton just as much as the Esks.
Despite winning the season series with BC the bombers are heading into the unfriendly confines of BC Place. Perhaps 24,000 to 27,000 in the stands - perhaps 40 or 50 bomber fans making the trip will be drowned out badly.
However, bombers might actually benefit from indoor conditions. Big Blue are poor at home, better on the road, historically at IGF.
Actual team strengths & weaknesses. Bomber trenches are notoriously under-powered. Their o-line was close to superb all season - especially after O"shea realized Willy was working behind weak hobos. Once they inserted Travis Bond & Hardick they instantly got better and Nichols smarts was able to make them look even better. Now, 2 of the stalwarts, arguably their best 2 o-linemen are hobbled (Bond & Suck Chungh) and a massive hobo turnstile named Paddy Neufeld has been inserted. Bad news against a very good Lion front D-7. . . . . . the bomber running attack will be particularly crippled . . . . Lions should hold Harris to under 55 yds and stifle the odd flanker sweep to Dressler, Smith or Denmark to zero or lost yardage!
As for bombers secret weapon - ie. TURNOVERS - its starting to turn near season's end. Nichols has been a virtual pick machine and guys like O'Duffie and others are starting to lose ball control. Bombers will be hard-pressed to equalize the possession battle in BC.
Depth wise the bombers are sucking wind. Key guys like Chung, Bond, Denmark, Ricky Fogg and Ian Wild (their best d player) are likely to view the game from the sidelines. BC has a couple nicks but nothing close to what the bombers have.
Wide Receivers - Lions have a significant advantage. Bombers are forced to dress/start Canadian hobos like Kohlert and Feoli-Guardino. They're nice guys but football trash. The bomber imports are OK but are mostly blanketed in coverage - look at how tight Ottawa's replacements were to bombers' so-called burners (Gurley & Adams). Ottawa DBs seemed velcroed to these guys. BC WRs are vastly superior and with Jennings superior gun they'll rack up 250 yds - in the 1st half!
If Bombers were totally healthy - and Nichols played an error free low yardage game - I'd say bombers might be able to take this game deep into the 4th quarter - perhaps even OT before succumbing. With all their injuries I think the Lions will have this thing in tow by early 4th quarter, no question.
And if all the personnel/injury advantages didn't tilt the Lions way - what about coaching.
The only coach on the bomber roster better than their counterpart is Plop vs. Khari Jones at OC - and Khari is upcharged by having the more powerful QB.
Mark Washington vs. Rich Hall - ain't even close.
Wallyball vs. O'Stoic - O'Shea is getting a bit better as a headman I'll give him that but Wally's experience in all facets of coaching, especially game prep give him the duke. If in doubt look at their career winning percentages - O'Shea, despite a nice 11-7 record is still hovering in the 42% range. Wally more like 65%. That's a huge differential - plus O'Shea has never coached a playoff game - wally has dozens, winning the majority!