September 11, 2019

12 in 12 | Looking back on the 2019 season to date

Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Willie Jefferson (5) celebrates a sack on Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo (7) during the first half of CFL action in Winnipeg Saturday, September 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

They are bruised, but certainly not battered.

Yes, when the Winnipeg Blue Bombers scattered in all directions for their bye week break, it was with a significant jump in their step following a jaw-dropping Banjo Bowl victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The Bombers’ second of three byes comes following an 11-game run between breaks – the longest in the Canadian Football League – and the growing number of bodies in the infirmary is evidence of the toll that stretch has had on the roster.

Still, with a 9-3 record the Bombers are atop the West Division, have won four of their last five with an injury-depleted lineup, and have positioned themselves favourably for a run to the playoffs. So, with the club having reached the two-thirds mark of the CFL season and taking a knee for a week, we thought we’d dive into some of the 12 numbers with 12 games done and six on the horizon…


Record: 9-3, first in West Division, 2nd overall (Hamilton is 9-2)

Currently: The Bombers rocketed out to a 5-0 start, dropped both on a road trip to Southern Ontario in late July-early August, and have now won four of their last five. They hold a four-point lead on Saskatchewan and Calgary, both at 7-4, and both with a game in hand.

The Bombers are tied 1-1 in their season series with the Riders, with the final matchup between the two clubs going October 5th in Regina and are up 1-0 on the Stamps, with a home-and-home with the horsemen coming at the end of the regular season on October 19th and 25th.

Winnipeg is six points up on fourth-place Edmonton, 6-6, and have already won the season series with the Eskimos.

Remaining games: 6 – 3 at home, 3 on the road

@ Montreal, Saturday, September 21
vs. Hamilton, Friday, September 27
@ Saskatchewan, Saturday, October 5
vs. Montreal, Saturday, October 12
@ Calgary, Saturday, October 19
vs. Calgary, Friday, October 25
Bye Week



The Bombers’ home record, tied with Hamilton (also 6-0) for best in the CFL.

Winnipeg is on a nine-game heater at home, with their last loss at IG Field coming to Saskatchewan in the 2018 Banjo Bowl last September 8th. That nine-game run is the club’s best home streak since cranking out 10-straight victories at old Winnipeg Stadium over the 1993-94 seasons.

Worth noting as the Bombers attempt to secure a home playoff game:

  • The only other home playoff game at IG Field was the 2017 West Division Semi-Final, won 39-32 by Edmonton
  • Winnipeg’s last home playoff game victory was a 19-3 decision over Hamilton in the 2011 East Final
  • The Bombers are 6-1 vs. the West Division this year – 2-0 vs. Edmonton and B.C., 1-0 vs. Calgary and 1-1 vs. Saskatchewan


The combined quarterback efficiency rating for Matt Nichols – a league-best 107.2 – and Chris Streveler, who is at 70.4. That ranks third overall heading into this week’s action, behind Edmonton (103) and Calgary (99.4).

The Bombers are 7-2 with Nichols starting and 2-1 in games in which Streveler has taken the first snap.


Passing yardage per game totals for the Bombers, ranking them ninth – and a distant last in the CFL, more than 35 yards behind eighth-place Montreal at 241. That number has dropped significantly, as over the last six games the Bombers have not cracked the 200-yards passing mark.

Interestingly, the Bombers lead the league with 33 offensive touchdowns and their 19 passing TDs is second in the CFL only to Toronto’s 20. As well, consider this: Nichols leads the CFL with nine of his 15 passing TDs covering 20 yards or more and the Bombers red zone percentage – 65% (24 of 37) – also ranks first in the league.


The Bombers’ ranking in the key defensive statistical categories, including points allowed (19.0), opponent offensive points against (17.7), opponent offensive touchdowns (17), rushing yards per game against (67.8), opponent passing efficiency (76.0) and sacks made (35).

That’s not just a nod to the work of the men on the defensive side of the ball, but to defensive coordinator Richie Hall and his staff.


The rushing totals for Andrew Harris through 12 games, best in the CFL heading into this week’s action. It’s significant considering Harris has just completed the second leg of his two-game suspension and the number is down just slightly from the 984 he had through a dozen games last year en route to capturing his second-straight rushing title. He has a 93-yard lead on Edmonton’s C.J. Gable.

The last player to lead the CFL in rushing for three consecutive years, FYI, was Calgary’s Jon Cornish from 2012-14. Dating back to 1950, no Bombers running back has captured the rushing crown in three straight seasons.


Some of the stat totals for Bombers defensive end Willie Jefferson – 11 sacks, two fumble recoveries, six forced fumbles and nine pass knockdowns.

Those numbers speak of the disruptive force that Jefferson is on defence and why so many have him pegged as the leading contender for the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award.

His sack total is second to Saskatchewan’s Charleston Hughes (13), his two fumble recoveries are tied for second, his six forced fumbles are first in the league and his nine knockdowns are tied with teammate Chandler Fenner for first overall, and an astonishing number for a defensive lineman.


Winnipeg’s turnover ratio, ranking first overall in the CFL.

The Bombers rank first in turnovers forced with 35 and second in points generated off turnovers, at 63. Winnipeg’s 17 interceptions rank second to Calgary’s 18 and its 11 forced fumbles are tied with Ottawa for first in the league.


The number of players from the Bombers 2019 CFL Draft class who have suited up for games. Winnipeg called out nine names on draft night and in order they were OL Drew Desjarlais (4th overall), DE Jonathan Kongbo (5th overall), RB Brady Oliveira (14th), DL Connor Griffiths (25th), OL Asotui Eli (34th), WR Malik Richards (43rd), DL Tariq Lachance (52nd), DB Nick Hallett (61st) and DB Kerfalla Exumé (70th).

  • Desjarlais has dressed for all 12 games and started the last four at left guard
  • Kongbo was injured to start the season, but has dressed for the last six games and is part of a rotation at defensive end
  • Oliveira made the club out of training camp, but injured his ankle in the home opener and is on the injured list
  • Griffiths is seen as a real prospect and has spent the first chunk of the season on the practice roster
  • Eli has dressed for the last four games with the injury to Cody Speller
  • Heading into this week’s action, Exumé is tied with teammate Mike Miller for the CFL lead in special teams tackles with 18
  • Hallett is fifth on the club in special teams tackles with seven, behind Exumé and Miller, Shayne Gauthier (10) and Derek Jones (9)


The CFL ranking, in terms of receiving yardage, for Lucky Whitehead – Winnipeg’s leader in that category. Whitehead has 37 catches for 394 yards and two touchdowns. Just by comparison, every other team in the CFL has more than one player in the Top 23 ahead of Whitehead, led by Edmonton with four, Calgary, Toronto, Hamilton, Saskatchewan and Montreal have three each, with B.C. and Toronto having two receivers in that group.


Bombers starters, or projected starters, who have missed games this year. That list includes guard Pat Neufeld (12 games missed), defensive back Brandon Alexander (6), defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat (5), wide receiver Darvin Adams (4), quarterback Matt Nichols (3), linebacker Adam Bighill (3), guard Cody Speller (3) running back Andrew Harris (2), slotback Nic Demski (1) and slotback Lucky Whitehead (1).

The Bombers have also lost fill-in starters to injury in Chris Matthews (since released, 4 games missed), linebacker Jesse Briggs (8), defensive backs Chris Humes (4) and Mercy Maston (3) and specialists Charles Nelson (8) and long-snapper Chad Rempel (1).


Interceptions by Bombers cornerback Winston Rose, who leads the CFL in that category by two (Calgary’s Tre Roberson has six, and has a game in hand).

A couple of items in relation to this:

  • Rose tied with for the CFL lead in interceptions a year ago with Jonathan Rose with five
  • His eight interceptions is the most by a Bomber since Jovon Johnson had eight in 2011 and the last Winnipeg player to hit double digits in picks was Less Browne, who had 10 in 1991.


Janarion Grant has played in just five games for the Bombers after being signed on July 23rd – and following his training camp release by Hamilton – and already has three punt-return scores for touchdowns.

Get this: Grant leads the CFL in both punt-return scores, punt-return average (21.4) and has accomplished all this on just 18 returns.

And, finally, a bonus number…


Current odds for the Bombers to win the Grey Cup, tied with Calgary as the current favourites according to Winnipeg opened the season as the favourites, too. The rest of the Grey Cup odds are as follows: Hamilton 15-4, Saskatchewan 4-1, Montreal 6-1, Edmonton 13-2, Ottawa 80-1, while B.C. and Toronto are both 1,000-1.