LIVESTREAM PPV: CFL – Edmonton Eskimos @Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Thurs. June 27, 7:30 (8:30p EDT, 2:30a June 28 CEDT)

WINNIPEG – The two top teams on the CFL Power Rankings are sets to duke it out, with the Edmonton Eskimos traveling to Investors Group Field in Winnipeg to take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Thursday Night Football.

The West Division’s two undefeated teams will look to continue their excellent starts to their respective seasons, but this Week 3 matchup will be their toughest test yet.

Neither the Bombers nor Eskimos have faced an opponent with a win this year – both have defeated the 0-2 BC Lions, with Edmonton also beating the winless Montreal Alouettes to open the season.

» Depth Charts: EDM | WPG

Thursday night will feature two of the league’s most dangerous rushers. CJ Gable is leading the CFL in rushing yards, while Andrew Harris torched the BC Lions in Week 1.

Gable has accumulated 311 all-purpose yards through two games. He has also received more than 20 handoffs in each of those games, unquestionably contributing to his success.

Harris picked up 148 yards on 16 carries for the Bombers in the season opener, as he eyes his third straight 1,000-yard season. However, there will be another Harris on the field Thursday with an even more impressive stat line.

Trevor Harris has completed 77 per cent of his passes through his first two games in green and gold. The veteran pivot also linked up with trusty wideout Greg Ellingson for two scores in their Week 2 victory over the Lions, helping Ellingson earn the number one spot in the CFL Top Performers of the Week.

“They look like the No. 1 offence right now,” Bombers defensive back Brandon Alexander told BlueBombers.com. “They can do everything – deep ball, short ball, run the ball, everything. They’re definitely well-rounded.”

Harris’s 741 passing yards and six touchdowns also lead the league, and he has yet to throw an interception this year.

The quarterback deserves credit, but a hat-tip is also in order for the Edmonton offensive line. Harris has not been sacked through the first two games, while Gable has been the beneficiary of some exemplary run blocking.

Edmonton’s starting five on the O-line account for 25 seasons of service and played in 285 man games. Canadian guard Matt O’Donnell is responsible for more than 100 of those games, while tackle Colin Kelly and guard David Beard have each suited up in north of 50 contests themselves.

The Eskimos line may get even better, as two-time CFL all-star SirVincent Rogers is on the six-game injured list after picking up an injury in training camp. Jacob Ruby, who started the team’s first two games, is out for Week 3 but is being replaced by another veteran in Travis Bond.

“It starts with the O-line and the running backs being able to protect long enough for us to go through our progression,” Eskimos head coach Jason Maas told Esks.com. “Our offence is made to go where the defence takes it. As long as our quarterback has enough time to sit back there and decipher it, he’s going to throw to the open guy.”

Winnipeg’s line isn’t shabby either, featuring reigning two-time CFL Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman Stanley Bryant and dependable tackle Jermarcus Hardrick.

It was sheer domination in the trenches for the Eskimos last week at BC Place. The offensive line was steady, and the defensive line was a force, recording seven sacks in the first visit from former quarterback Mike Reilly. Nick Usher and Mike Moore each notched multi-sack games.

“I’ve been here three years. I don’t remember when we came that hard, but that’s how we want to play every game,” Moore said of his team’s performance in the closing stages of their game last week.

Receiver Chris Matthews will make his first regular season appearance in blue and gold in more than five years on Thursday. The 2012 CFL Most Outstanding Rookie left the Bombers in 2013 to pursue NFL ambitions, and returned last season to help the Calgary Stampeders to a Grey Cup victory.

Matthews, who was out for Week 1, appeared unstoppable at times last year, and his 6-foot-5 frame and safe hands will be a test for the Eskimos secondary. Fellow receivers Drew Wolitarsky and Darvin Adams had touchdown receptions in Week 1, so quarterback Matt Nichols has plenty of weapons at his disposal.

Although the Bombers recorded a lone sack two weeks ago, one cannot expect a front seven that features the likes of Willie JeffersonJackson Jeffcoat and Adam Bighill to stay quiet for long in front of their home crowd.

“Home openers are a huge deal,” said Bighill. “It’s a chance for us to start in front of our fans and really establish who we are this season and who we want to be and really get them involved in the game.”

BY THE NUMBERS

2,141 – Days since Chris Matthews last played a down for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Aug. 16, 2013).

2 – The number of times since 1992 the Eskimos have scored 30-plus points in their first two games (2016 and 2019).

28-10 – The teams’ combined record when scoring first since 2017.

0 – The number of interceptions Trevor Harris and Matt Nichols have thrown this year.

Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. ET and can be seen on TSN, RDS and ESPN+, and followed live via CFL.ca Game Tracker.

With files from Esks.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.

LIVE STREAM: CFL – Edmonton Eskimos @Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Thurs. June 27, 7:30 (8:30p EDT, 2:30a June 28 CEDT)

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