November 8, 2022

Weekly Predictor: Believing in the Bombers

The Canadian Press

The final four has arrived after the Montreal Alouettes and BC Lions used their home field advantage and rolled into the division finals with some momentum.

However, I don’t believe that momentum is transferable to the next game. Anything can happen from the opening kickoff to an opening drive that could put a team on their heals.

» 109th Grey Cup Divisional clashes set
» Head to Head: Who has the edge in the Eastern Final?
» Head to Head: Who has the edge in the Western Final?

Both the Toronto Argonauts and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will have used their bye weeks to a maximum, whether it’s coordinators and assistants pouring over film to find an advantage over their opponents or the players using the time wisely to heal up.

A trip to Regina awaits the winner with a chance to etch their name in CFL history … no pressure.

Montreal at Toronto
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET

Toronto Argonauts quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson set career-highs in attempts, completions and yards. Finishing the 2022 season as the league’s passing leader with 4,731 (Kevin Sousa/

Let’s start off with the head to head matchup between these two teams. The first two meetings were one-point wins for the Argonauts over the Alouettes. Montreal claimed the regular season finale with plenty of new faces in the lineup, but the win wouldn’t have any affect on the standings.

Their first meeting ended with Montreal’s David Cote missing a 21-yard game-winning field goal to lose by one point. Then, in extremely odd irony the second meeting ended with Boris Bede missing a game winning field goal as well, except the rouge still allowed Toronto to win the game.

In the latter game, the Alouettes had a chance to jump on the Argos early with an interception in the red zone and then a stuff at the goal line by the Argonauts defence.

These two teams are extremely evenly matched, especially if Andrew Harris is healthy enough to play. The Alouettes have tremendous depth at running back and used Walter Fletcher and William Stanback to perfection in their win against the Tiger-Cats.

The Montreal backfield saw 25 touches split between their two ball-carries, while working Eugene Lewis and Jake Wieneke in the passing game as well.

Right now, the forecast could be a little mixed with rain, maybe snow, so the ground game may be vital for both offences to find success.

What Toronto has done well all season, is taking the ball away. Toronto’s statistics for offence and defence don’t jump off the page. They have an average group in many of the key categories, but they lead the league in takeaways and in the playoffs turnovers are a necessity to win.

The other thing Toronto has been great at this season, is preventing touchdowns. While they give up a lot of yards, they are second in the league for fewest touchdowns allowed behind only Winnipeg.

Any defence will be fine giving up a lot of yards and limiting their opponents to field goals all game.

I’m also interested to see if Ryan Dinwiddie is a little more aggressive than he was last year in the East Final when he kicked two field goals with the ball inside the five yard line. Yes, they had a 12-0 lead at the half against Hamilton, but no touchdowns in the first half was their undoing as the Tiger-Cats stormed back.

I’m flip flopping on this game, but my gut says Toronto wins. My head is telling me that the dynamic of Stanback and Fletcher look to be a combination that will give every defence headaches.

PICK: MONTREAL (0 confidence bonus)

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 (

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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