LIVESTREAM PPV: CFL – Winnipeg Blue Bombers @Toronto Argonauts, July 21 4p (10p CEST)

TORONTO — The first game of Saturday’s CFL doubleheader features two teams looking to bounce back in a big way from Week-5 defeats.

Both the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Toronto Argonauts will want to start quickly in their meeting Saturday afternoon at BMO Field (4:00 p.m. ET); last week saw Winnipeg let a late lead slip in BC, while the Argonauts trudged their way to a 16-15 defeat in sopping conditions in Edmonton.

Neither offence looked particularly potent in its respective defeat last week, and both James Franklin and Matt Nichols know they will need to be more efficient in order to pick up a win in Toronto this weekend.

A new week is a much-needed breath of fresh air for Matt Nichols and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ offence.

Dominant on their way to a 17-0 halftime lead last week at BC Place, a trio of interceptions and a big, fat zero on the scoreboard in the second half gave the unit a hard dose of reality.

“Our gameplan every week (is) play clean football and give ourselves a chance to win in the end,” Nichols told BlueBombers.com. “I felt like every phase took turns not doing that last week. (We’ll) look to get back to playing more consistent football as a team this week, for sure.”

The Bombers have lost four of their last five trips to BMO Field — something Nichols and co. are acutely aware of entering the first game of a back-to-back series against the Argonauts.

“It’s always tougher to go into some place and win on the road, and we’ve had some tough ones here, so we expect that that’s the kind of game it’s going to be,” said Nichols. “A four-quarter game, down to the wire. (We’d) love to take it on the road, then make them come to our place.”

Discipline will likely be a key for Winnipeg come Saturday, given how critical mistakes were in the team’s second-half collapse last week.

“We’ve just had a few mistakes,” said Bombers receiver Weston Dressler. “We only had two penalties in the (loss to B.C.) that were unforced penalties, not a tough holding call or anything like that. It was an offsides and a false start/procedure penalty and they were both in situations where it was second and medium or second and short and it put us into second and long and into a hole. Those are the little things we can always control that have nothing to do with who you’re going against, the defence they’re bringing against you or anything like that.”

Roster-wise, Kienan Lafrance draws back into the lineup in a backup role to feature back Andrew HarrisChandler Fenner, meanwhile, did not get the green light in time to feature in Winnipeg’s secondary. Brandon Alexander and Abubakarr Conteh enter as defensive depth in the secondary.

In Toronto, the big news this week centred around the signing of former Pro Bowler Dexter McCluster.

The Ole Miss alumnus has 12 NFL touchdowns to his name, but has not played since 2016 — and will not change that this weekend, as he will watch Saturday’s contest against Winnipeg in street clothes despite practicing this week.

Practice was notably sharp for the Argonauts, who sit tied for last in the East Division at 1-3, this week.

“From the moment we got into the meeting room after a very tough loss and travelling, you would not know we’d lost the game,” head coach Marc Trestman told argonauts.ca. “Guys were locked in with good energy, (and) the guys know that come Saturday at 4 o’clock, we’ve got to perform.”

Perform they certainly will have to against a Winnipeg team chock full of playmakers on both sides of the football.

“They like to run the ball in Winnipeg, I believe they’re the top rushing team in the league right now, (so) we know it’s going to be a physical game,” said Toronto safety Jermaine Gabriel. “They’ve got 33, Nichols, Adams…so we’re going to have our hands full.”

The sixth-year safety believes the Argos’ loss last week in Edmonton gave a sour taste to an overall strong outing from his unit.

“Just us not quitting, playing ’til the final whistle, playing hard-nosed football — it wasn’t easy out in Edmonton, the conditions were rough and it ended up being a close game,” explained Gabriel, who points to his unit’s chemistry as a key moving forward. “We’re all vets, so (we) knew of each other around the league and we come in with the (same) mindset. We have a young coach in (Tyron) Brack(enridge), and we all relate to each other.”

Rookie Trumaine Washington will make his CFL debut at linebacker in place of the injured Cassius Vaughn; the 23-year-old Louisville product comes highly touted after recording 129 tackles with the Cardinals over three seasons (2015-17).

“I saw some light (from him), as we all did in the pre-season,” said Trestman of his new starting linebacker. “He’s stayed on it, (and) he’s got a bunch of guys around him helping him get better.”

Ken Bishop slides onto the defensive line in place of the suspended Dylan Wynn.

Bishop, a 27-year-old Northern Illinois product registered 31 tackles and started 15 games in his debut CFL campaign in 2016, but was limited to just four starts last season.

JAMES FRANKLIN THREW FOR 296 YARDS, BUT FAILED TO BREAK INTO THE END ZONE AND THREW AN INTERCEPTION IN WEEK 5 AT EDMONTON. (THE CANADIAN PRESS PHOTO)

Crunchin’ Numbers:

.488 — Win percentage for Toronto quarterbacks who have started in place of Ricky Ray since 2012 (20-21), a number that puts to bed the notion the team is worse-off when Ray is out of the lineup. The injured veteran’s win percentage in the same time span is .465 (33-38).

5.3 — Flags against the Argonauts in a typical game, the lowest average in the league. Winnipeg is the third-most penalized team thus far in 2018, averaging 6.6 penalties-per-game.

6.7 — Yards-per-rush attempt for the Bombers, who own the best mark in the CFL — not just this season, but all-time. If you want to get technical, Winnipeg’s  league-leading 6.680 average is 0.002 ahead of the full-season record holders, the 1994 Birmingham Barracudas.

449 — League-high rush yards for Winnipeg’s Andrew Harris, who is trying to become the first Bomber since Charles Roberts (2005-06) to lead the CFL in rush yards in back-to-back seasons.

Here we go: Argonauts and Bombers.

Toronto is hosting its Family Day-themed game, the first of nine being hosted across the league this season, and will be hoping to put on a good show for the crowd.

The Bombers, meanwhile, want to prove to the rest of the league they truly are the team which hung 41 and 56 points on BC and Montreal respectively — not the one that collapsed in Vancouver. Heck, Matt Nichols just wants to put the memory of last week’s three-INT performance behind him.

It’s a little early to start talking redemption, but given where these teams are at in the standings — tied for last in their respective divisions — relative to the talent on their roster, pressure is starting to build as we enter the middle portion of the season.

The stakes are getting higher. Who will rise to the occasion on Saturday at BMO?

– With files from BlueBombers.com/argonauts.ca

AFI, Yare Media and the CFL

American Football International is collaborating with Yare Media and the Canadian Football League to present 2018 CFL games live. This is more than a livestream. This is a stream of the top flight TSN network television broadcast.

LIVE STREAM: CFL – Winnipeg Blue Bombers @Toronto Argonauts, July 21 4p (10p CEST)

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