BLOG: Shadoe predicts the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will take the win on Sunday
So the big western semi-final match-up between the Bombers and Edmonton is Sunday afternoon. My prediction is at the bottom of this page but first, all the reasons I came up with it, based on my meticulously well thought out deliberations the past few days.
By the way, the Matt Nichols injury (or lack thereof) won’t be factor. If the Bombers are going to win this game it’s going to have to be on the ground and in the trenches. If Nichols does play he will be a calming influence on the offence but he’ll be on the sidelines either way if they need his insight.
The factors will be:
1. Conditions affecting offensive production:
Sunday is supposed to be a decent mid-November day. Right now Global is calling for sunshine and a high of -4. We are supposed to be getting snow in Winnipeg today but the field should be in decent shape for Sunday afternoon. As decent as it can be for November. The wind should be calm from the southwest at 12 kilometres.
Both are cold weather teams but the edge here goes to the Bombers.
I believe the cold effects the passing game and the Eskimos pass…a lot. They don’t have a single back in the CFL rushing top ten plus Esks QB Mike Reilly was the league’s top passer with 5,830 yards.
The Bombers don’t rely as heavily on the passing game and they have the CFL’s leading rusher in Andrew Harris. Combine that with the threat of Timothy Flanders and it’s advantage Bombers. Let’s also mention the Esks leading rusher is Mike Reilly. Containing his scrambling will be huge.
We all know the Bombers defence hasn’t exactly lit it up this year. They still produce a lot of turnovers though and in a cold weather game it’s significantly more difficult to hang onto the ball. Cold hands, cold slippery ball, tough to hang on to and tough to throw.
I’ll also throw in sun glare as a defensive advantage. With sun in the forecast it could play a large role for receivers trying to track the ball depending on who’s on what side of the field at any given time.
Last week vs Calgary, the Bombers defensive line had a mammoth game. Let’s keep in mind they were playing against second and third string quarterbacks. Mike Reilly is a different threat. The Bombers will have to stay in their defensive lanes and contain him in the pocket or it could be a very long afternoon.
The Eskimo receivers are formidable but I believe field conditions will work against them. The Bomber secondary will still have to pay close attention especially vs Brandon Zylstra who finished the season with 100 catches and 1,687 yards.
The Eskimo defence was second last vs the rush this year, only Montreal was worse. However the Bombers were dead last against the pass.
I will call this a wash.
3. Intangibles and special teams:
The Eskimos come in on a roll but they’re a streaky team. They started the season with seven straight wins, then lost six in a row, and finished with five wins in a row. The team that stopped that first win streak? The Bombers. The Bombers also beat them again in Edmonton just a few weeks later. That will play negatively in the Esks psyche and will have the opposite effect on the Bombers. It’s the old “You couldn’t beat me then and you can’t beat me now” sort of thing. In a one and done game that could be huge.
Then there’s the coaching. Jason Maas is a hothead and he’s shown it on the sidelines this year repeatedly. If a call goes against him he might just lose it. This does not provide comfort for the players to see the coach having a tantrum like that. Mike O’Shea on the other hand? They don’t come much cooler than him. Rarely shows heavy emotion on the sideline and that’s a good thing.
What about crowd noise? This depends on the size of the crowd so get your tickets now! The noise could certainly cause confusion for the Edmonton offence and possibly a few procedure penalties against the line. If they get a few of those at key moments that’s good news for the home side.
Penalties. The Bombers are the least penalized team in the league, the Esks the second most. I’d expect the Bombers to try and draw Edmonton into some bad calls and cheap shots as the game goes on. It’s all about discipline.
Special teams. The Eskimos have Sean Whyte, The Bombers have Justin Medlock. A wash there.
The return game. The Esks don’t have a prolific returner. The Bombers have Kevin Fogg who’s shown flashes the last couple of years not to mention the wily Mike O’Shea who could have several special team tricks up his sleeve. It’s the playoffs. You leave it all on the field baby.
All this considered it will be a very close game, so now the prediction.
Please keep in mind my predictions re: the Bombers are either very close, (I called a game right on the number this year with some other very close predictions as well), or they are wildly off base, (I had a couple of those too) like on another continent off base.
It will come down to a last second 41 yard field goal attempt by Justin Medlock and he WILL redeem himself for the disappointments of earlier this year.
Final score: Blue Bombers 32 Eskimos 31
Here we go Bombers, HERE…WE…GO!!!!
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.