Game Preview | MTL vs WPG

THE 4-1-1

Kickoff: Saturday, 6 p.m. CDT, IG Field
Weather forecast: Sunny with a high of 13c. Clear overnight with a low of +1.
TV: TSN 1/4, RDS, ESPN+, BT Sport 3, Yare
Radio: 680 CJOB; Sirius XM (Canada Talks, channel 167).
BetRegal.ca odds: The Blue Bombers are favoured by 12 points.
Streaks: Winnipeg: 8W. Montreal: 1L.
Home/Road: The Bombers are 6-0 at home this season and 17-1 in their last 18 games at IG Field dating back to the fall of 2018. The Alouettes are 4-2 on the road and 1-3 vs. the West Division this season.
Head to head: This is the first meeting between the Bombers and Alouettes this season and the first since the two clubs met on Thanksgiving weekend in 2019 – a 35-24 Winnipeg win following a massive ice storm that had crews working for hours just to get the stands and field clear. The Bombers and Als split their two meetings in 2019 and Winnipeg is 7-3 in its last 10 against Montreal.

The QBs

  • The Bombers will start veteran Zach Collaros. He is 45-33 in his career starts and 14-1 as a Bomber, including playoffs. Collaros is 4-6 in career starts vs. Montreal.
  • The Alouettes will answer with veteran Trevor Harris, who was acquired in a trade with Edmonton last month. He is 39-37-2 in his career starts and 2-5 against the Bombers.

The Coaches

Winnipeg: Mike O’Shea: 66-53; vs. Montreal: 9-3

Montreal: Khari Jones: 16-13; vs. Wpg.: 1-1

Blue Roster Shuffle

The Bombers have made four roster changes for this week. Coming on to the roster are kicker Sergio Castillo, cornerback Winston Rose, LB Kevin Brown and WR Brendan O’Leary-Orange

Off are K Ali Mourtada, DB Demerio Houston, WR Kelvin McKnight and LB Robbie Lowes.

Rose is back at his old spot on the boundary side of the field and will line up beside Deatrick Nichols. That means DeAundre Alford moves to the other corner spot alongside Nick Taylor. With Rose and Alford at the corners, Mike Jones is now listed behind Alden Darby at the Dime spot, but also got some work at halfback this week during practice.

“Mike Jones is a pro,” said head coach Mike O’Shea. “Obviously there were some conversations with him (about being bumped from the starting lineup), but he’ll still get an opportunity to play and make plays for us. He’s a good football player. If you recall how he made plays for us down the stretch and in the playoffs (in 2019) he was phenomenal for us, one of the better players on the field for us for sure.

“Guys understand they have specific roles, but sometimes those roles change. But they still want to do their best in their role and what they’re asked to do.”

3 Bombers to Watch

#98 Steven Richardson, DT: ‘Stove’ has helped solidify the middle of the Bombers already-stout defensive front since his return from injury. Some numbers to consider: in six games without Richardson in the lineup the Bombers surrendered an average 115.2 yards rushing. With him in the lineup the average yards rushing against is 52.8.

#14 Sergio Castillo, K: Castillo returns to the Bomber lineup for the first time since 2015 after migrating all over the football map. A CFL All-Star with B.C. in 2019 when he connected on 91 percent of his field-goal attempts, he agreed to the trade the two clubs made last month partly because the regime here remains the same, but also because this is a championship-calibre squad.
“Ever since I left college, I don’t think I’ve been part of a team that’s won more than four or five games,” said Castillo, who has been cut eight times by pro teams, earlier this week. “So, you know, ever since the CFL started, I’ve been keeping up with every game on ESPN. It’s fun just because I’ve been able to watch all my friends from different teams be able to play and just to see what Winnipeg has been able to do. I think it’s something pretty special what they’ve got going on here. So when the opportunity was presented to me, you know, it was a no-brainer.”

#37 Brandon Alexander, S: The Bombers have become a dominant force in defending the pass this year and it’s no coincidence those results have come with Alexander feeling more comfortable at the safety position. Alexander spoke about that in this week’s Long Read.

X Factor

#30 Winston Rose, CB: The CFL’s interception leader returns to the Bombers after spending 2020 with the Cincinnati Bengals. Rose left little doubt as to if he would return to the lineup on the very first day of practice where he took most of the reps at his old spot. But his last real game action – not NFL preseason – was the 2019 Grey Cup.

3 Notable Numbers

+83

Since 2016 the Bombers are an incredible +83 in the turnover ratio. Winnipeg leads that category in ’21 at

43.7

CFL teams are averaging a combined 43.7 points per game this season – that’s the lowest total since 1979 (40.2).

0.54

The average points allowed by the Bombers in the fourth quarter this year, the lowest in CFL history dating back to 1958. The Bombers have out-scored their opposition 106-6 in the final 15 minutes of games this year.

Milestone Watch

  • Zach Collaros is 189 passing yards shy of 20,000 in his career. He currently sits at 19,811. He leads the CFL in passing yards and TDs and is looking to become the first Bombers QB to lead the league in passing since Kevin Glenn in 2007.

Quotable

Some juicy comments this week out of Montreal, courtesy a story done by Herb Zurkowsky of The Gazette.

In this piece, Alouettes linebacker Patrick Levels said, among other things: “I feel like we have the better team, for sure.”

Asked to comment on what Levels said following Friday’s walk-through, Bombers middle linebacker Adam Bighill offered this:

“If he didn’t say that he probably wouldn’t be a very good competitor. Everyone should have that mindset about their team. So, he can think whatever he wants. Come out and play the game and we’ll see who’s going to win. We’re not taking them for granted or lightly. They’re a good football team. We’ve got to come out here and play our best to win. That’s the facts. Our record says a lot about who we are as a team and it speaks about consistency. That’s the one thing, we’ve got to go out there and continue to prove it.”

FYI

  • The Bombers and Alouettes are the two highest-scoring offences in the CFL, with Winnipeg averaging 24.1 points per game and Montreal at 23.4. Montreal leads the lead in net offence at 393.5 yards per game, with Winnipeg second at 366.7.
  • The Bombers are 8-0 in games within the West Division. No Bomber team has ever finished a season unbeaten against its division. The 1994 Bombers were 9-1 in East Division games.
  • The Bombers are the first team since Calgary in 2015 (Jon Cornish and Matt Walter to have their top two rushers both be Canadian in Andrew Harris and Brady Oiveira. Worth noting, including Johnny Augustine, the Bombers top three rushers this season are Canadians and according to the CFL, no team has EVER had all of their three rushers be from the true north strong and free.
  • The Bombers defence has allowed just one touchdown drive in the last 63 possessions against.
  • Alouettes QB Trevor Harris came off the bench last week and completed 12-of-15 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown in Montreal’s last five possessions. In his last game against the Bombers, then as a member of the Edmonton Elks, Harris was yanked after completing 9-of-22 passes for 87 yards.

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