What’s at stake in Thursday’s game is simple – the winner takes over first place in the division. Both teams own identical records and getting a leg up in the season series could be of vital importance later in the year.
The Bombers are in desperate need of some home cooking after a tumultuous eastern road trip. They left Winnipeg undefeated and return with two consecutive losses, one in shocking, last-minute fashion to the Toronto Argonauts last week.
“We got off to a good roll for the organization and these two games we dropped, we don’t want that to put a damper on our season,” Bombers defensive lineman Willie Jefferson told BlueBombers.com “It’s early. We know what we’re good at, we know the things we need to fix. It’s the little things…they’re major for us right now.”
The Stampeders have been trending in the complete opposite direction. Even with starting quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and star running back Don Jackson on the shelf with injuries, the Stamps have been finding ways to win football games.
Nick Arbuckle is 4-1 as a starter this season, throwing for 300 or more yards in two of those games.
“Organizationally they’re good from the top down and continually bring in good people,” Bombers quarterback Matt Nichols said. “Every year everyone on the outside says, ‘Maybe this is the year that Calgary doesn’t play the same way they always do’. They find a way to just play good, clean football, they have a lot of talented football players and they just do a good job of week in and week out showing up and playing clean football and that allows them to win a lot of games.”
Through his first five games, Arbuckle has already thrown for 300 yards more times than Nichols has in his last 26 appearances. Nichols has only thrown picks in two contests this season, however, Calgary’s 22 forced turnovers are the most in the CFL.
“They’re going to come out firing,” Stamps linebacker Riley Jones told Stampeders.com. “We’re going to try to do the same thing and try to get the win. We’re going to approach this game just like any other one. Yes, it’s a short week, but we’re going to come out firing and hopefully come home with the win.”
One area of concern for Calgary has been the running game. Jackson has been out since Week 3 and wasn’t able to find any success in his two games played. Ka’Deem Carey and Terry Williams have handled the majority of the reps at running back, but Romar Morris made his much-anticipated season debut last week after suffering an Achilles injury in the 2018 playoffs.
“It helped me out immensely, just to get that feeling,” Morris said of his action in Week 8. “It felt normal after that. It was a mental test that I had to overcome for myself. So I don’t have to be afraid that it’s gonna happen again so I can just play comfortable.”
Morris only accumulated 14 yards on nine rushes, which is on par with the production Calgary has had on the ground in 2019. The Stamps are averaging 70.3 rushing yards-per-game – only the Argonauts have fewer. Moreover, they are gaining a mere 4.2 yards per carry, by far last in the league.
Meanwhile, Winnipeg’s 140.3 rushing yards per game are second in the CFL, trailing only the William Stanback-led Montreal Alouettes. Andrew Harris is on pace for his fourth career 1,000-yard rushing season and is coming into Week 9 hot.
The 32-year-old ran for a season-high 152 yards in Week 8, also finding paydirt on the ground for the first time in 2019. The Calgary defence held Harris to just 13 yards on the ground in Week 11 last year and the running back will be key for the Stamps this year.
Defensively, Cory Greenwood continues to be invaluable for Calgary. The 34-year-old is a starter in the CFL for the first time since 2016 and he is currently leading the league in tackles while occupying the spot vacated by Alex Singleton.
BY THE NUMBERS
1982 – The last time the Stamps and Bombers met with sole possession of first in the West on the line (Aug. 20, 1982).
54 – The number of penalties taken by the Bombers, making them the least-penalized team in the league.
1 – Games with 300-plus passing yards for Matt Nichols in his last 26 starts.
6 – Sacks in the last five games for the Stamps’ Cordarro Law.
– With files from Stampeders.com and BlueBombers.com.
AFI, Yare Media and the CFL
American Football International is collaborating with Yare Media and the Canadian Football League to present 2019 CFL games live. This is more than a livestream. This is a stream of the top flight TSN network television broadcast.