Winnipeg – The situation is about as clear as it gets for the Winnipeg Blue bombers and Edmonton Eskimos as they get set to meet Friday night at 7-30 at Investors Group Field. The Bombers hold down third place in the West with an 8-5 record, Eskimos are fourth at 6-7. This is the third and final meeting of the season between the two teams, each having a win. If the Eskimos win, they rejuvenate their hopes of catching the Bombers and the 8-4 B.C. Lions for 3rd or 2nd in the West. But, if the Bombers win, they would take the season series from Edmonton and have a six-point lead on the Eskimos meaning that the only way Edmonton could catch them in the standings would be to win their final four and have the Bombers lose their final four.(This projection doesn’t include any wacky scenario of a 3-way tie between Winnipeg, Edmonton and B.C.).
And so both the Bombers and Eskimos have plenty of inspiration and motivation as they square off Friday night.
The Bombers won’t have running back Andrew Harris and receiver/kick returner Quincy McDuffie for the third game in a row. Timothy Flanders has done a better than adequate job filling in for Harris with 197 yards rushing and another 82 receiving in the two games he has played. T.J. Heath will once again return kick-offs for the Bombers while Kevin Fogg will be the primary punt returner. Fogg, Heath and fellow defensive halfback Bruce Johnson along with the rest of the Bomber secondary and linebackers figure to have their hands full with Edmonton’s dynamic receiving duo of Adarius Bowman and Derel Walker. Bowman leads the CFL with 1400 yards receiving, Walker is second with 1248. Edmonton quarterback Mike Reilly has certainly benefitted from the brilliance of Bowman and Walker. Reilly leads the CFL with 4353 passing yards and 21 touchdown passes.
Eskimos feel they are playing their best defensive football of the season. The addition of defensive end Philip Hunt, back from the NFL, to the front four has added some push to a front seven that is formidable to say the least. The Blue Bomber offensive line will face one of its stiffest tests of the year.
The Bombers lead the CFL in the takeaway-giveaway category at plus-25. And here’s a stat they will love. In the 12 seasons from 2004 to 2015, there were 50 teams that ended up with a + ratio. Of those 50 teams, only three didn’t finish with a record of .500 or better and only two didn’t make the playoffs.
It kicks off at 7-30 on Friday at Investors Group Field, and the broadcast on 680-cjob begins at 6 and will feature a visit from Bud Grant, who will be the least inductee into the Bombers ring of honor.