The Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ 2021 schedule comes with a rather significant caveat, and will undoubtedly be met with fingers crossed it will unfold as planned.
The Canadian Football League dropped its ’21 schedule Friday, understanding full well the current global pandemic and the availability of a Coronavirus vaccine means the document is very much scribbled in pencil, not ink.
Still, given the cancellation of the 2020 season and the pain that brought to Blue Bombers fans itching to see their squad defend their championship, the schedule release also very much represents hope that the CFL will be back up and operating next summer.
The schedule would see the Bombers and Hamilton Tiger-Cats open the CFL campaign with a 2019 Grey Cup rematch at IG Field on Thursday, June 10 and finish with a visit from the Edmonton (nickname coming soon) Football Team on Saturday, October 30.
And, as per usual, it features the annual Labour Day Classic/Banjo Bowl September double-header with the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Other notable highlights:
- The CFL schedule is not balanced in ’21, meaning the Bombers will not play every team at least twice. Winnipeg will face the Toronto Argonauts just once next season, with the lone meeting coming at BMO Field on Saturday, September 25. The Bombers face the B.C. Lions, Edmonton and Calgary Stampeders three times each, the Riders twice (two more times in the pre-season), and Tiger-Cats, Montreal Alouettes and Ottawa RedBlacks two times apiece.
- The Bombers’ regular season home schedule features three Thursday games, two on Friday and four on Saturday. The season/home opener will see the Ticats in town and a Grey Cup banner raising. The home schedule finishes with back-to-back games at IG Field, with Calgary here on October 23 and Edmonton a week later. That is potentially significant not just because of the likely playoff scenarios at the end of the regular season, but with a vaccine possibly in play, it could mean larger capacities at IG Field. Including an October 2 visit from Ottawa, the Bombers will finish with three of their final four games at home.
- The Bombers have three bye weeks, all well-positioned in Week 6, Week 10 and Week 18. The second bye splits two consecutive road trips – August 5 to Ottawa and August 20 to Hamilton. It also means the Bombers have a long stretch between home games, hosting B.C. on July 30 and then not at IG Field again until the Lions return on August 26. The Bombers are on the road for consecutive weeks on Friday, Sept 17 in Calgary and the date in Toronto eight days later.
- The schedule features two back-to-backs – a home-and-home with Edmonton on June 25 and July 3 and the Labour Day Classic/Banjo Bowl showdowns with the Riders on September 5 and 11.
- The schedule includes the Bombers having five ‘short’ weeks – six or less days in between – and four regular weeks, which is the average.
- On two occasions the Bombers will face a team coming off a bye week: B.C. on July 30 and the Lions again on October 16.
- The two preseason games will both be against the Riders, with Saskatchewan here on Friday, May 28 and the Bombers in Regina a week later on Friday, June 4.