WESTERN FINAL | B.C. LIONS (12-6) at WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS (15-3)
Kickoff: Sunday, 3:30 p.m. CST, IG Field, Winnipeg
The forecast: Cloudy. Becoming a mix of sun and cloud near noon. Wind up to 15km/h. High minus 5. Wind chill near minus 13. Cloudy over night with a low of minus 9.
TV: TSN; ESPNEWS
Radio: 680 CJOB
Home/Road: The Blue Bombers are 8-1 at IG Field this year and 16-1 – including last year’s Western Final win over Saskatchewan – at home over the last two seasons. Dating back to the summer of 2018, Winnipeg is on a 27-2 run at home. The Lions are 6-3 on the road this season but are just 1-7 in their last eight visits to Winnipeg dating back to 2015.
BetRegal.ca odds: The Blue Bombers are favoured by 4.5 points. For more of Bet Regal’s numbers on this game, click here.
Streaks: Winnipeg: 1W; B.C.: 1W.
Winnipeg vs. B.C. playoff history: This is the first time the Lions have been in Winnipeg for a Western Final. The two clubs have met in the division final three times – from 1983-85 – with all three at B.C. Place. The Lions are 6-2 overall in playoff games vs. Winnipeg. This will be the third playoff game held at IG Field since the building opened. The Blue Bombers lost the 2017 Western Semi-final 39-32 to Edmonton and knocked off Saskatchewan 21-17 in last year’s Western Final.
Heads up: Fans who don’t want to miss a moment of the Eastern Final should be aware that the tailgate area will feature North America’s largest mobile screen (22 ft x 39 Ft). The tailgate area will open at 11:30 a.m.
- B.C. will start Canadian QB Nathan Rourke. He is 9-3 in his 12 career starts and 0-2 in against Winnipeg, although he played only a quarter in their most recent meeting.
- Winnipeg lines up veteran Zach Collaros behind centre. The CFL’s reigning MOP is 61-36-0 in his career and has a 32-4 record as a Blue Bombers starter, including back-to-back Grey Cup victories. He is 9-2 all-time in career games against the Lions.
Winnipeg: Mike O’Shea has a career won-lost record of 82-58. O’Shea’s 82 regular season wins as a Blue Bombers head coach ranks third on the club’s all-time list, behind only Bud Grant (102) and Cal Murphy (86).
B.C.: Rick Campbell is 61-77-2 a head coach in the CFL and 6-11 vs. Winnipeg in the regular season.
Blue Roster Shuffle
The Bombers depth chart features five changes from the regular season finale. Coming aboard are receiver Nic Demski, offensive lineman Chris Kolankowski, cornerback Desmond Lawrence, defensive back Evan Holm and fullback Konner Burtenshaw.
Off are DBs Redha Kramdi and Noah Hallett, receiver Greg McCrae, defensive tackle Ricky Walker and offensive lineman Tomoya Machino.
Of note: receiver Rasheed Bailey is listed as a ‘game time decision’ on the Blue Bombers depth chart. O’Shea said Bailey will be evaluated Sunday morning before the club opts to suit him up or not.
“We’ll just check in with him and see how he feels,” said O’Shea, “and see if what he’s saying matches.”
The Blue Bombers have just one other extra receiver other than the starters currently listed on the depth chart in Brendan O’Leary-Orange but may also lean on Greg McCrae if needed.
“We like our depth,” said O’Shea. “It’s proven to be very effective throughout the season, across the board all three phases we’ve had a lot of different guys play. When your coaching staff believes in and trusts and coaches and gets these guys prepared throughout the entire season and they get meaningful reps throughout the entire season this is what it comes down to. You enter this portion of the year and you’re very comfortable with who steps on the field. They can all help us win football games.”
BLUE BOMBER SPOTLIGHT: DE Jackson Jeffcoat
The veteran defensive end works so well in tandem with Willie Jefferson and has six quarterback sacks in six career playoff games.
“I enjoy playing in these conditions,” Jeffcoat said. “It’s hard to explain, but it’s almost easier for me to breathe in the cold and I have a lot more fun if I’m not worried about over-heating. We earned the right to play in this weather. We embrace it. It’s fun.”
- The Blue Bombers are chasing their 27th division title, having previously won the East seven times and the West on 19 occasions. No CFL team has won more division titles than Winnipeg’s 26, followed by Edmonton (23), Hamilton (22), Montreal (18), Toronto and Calgary (17).
- Winnipeg is in its fourth straight division final, a first since 1982-85.
- Winnipeg set a franchise record with 15 wins this season, eclipsing the 14-win seasons posted in 1960, 1993 and 2001. None of those 14-win teams won the Grey Cup, for what it’s worth.
- Zach Collaros led all CFL QBs with 47 completions of 20 or more yards, with those also accounting for 24 of his 37 touchdown passes.
- Adam Bighill has been on a playoff team every season during his 10 years in the CFL. This marks his fifth straight division final. He has 56 defensive tackles in the playoffs, the most among active players.
- Nic Demski had 64 receptions in just 13 games. His 10 touchdowns is second only to Gerald Wilcox’s 13 in 1994 by a Blue Bombers Canadian receiver.
“Hype. Energy… I mean, I’m already hyped. It’s a chance to let it all loose. Uncaged. It’s just everything you’ve got comes out. There are things inside you that you don’t know are there sometimes until playoff Sundays. It’s the fun part. It’s the battle. It’s the play-by-play. It’s the adjustments. It’s the chess match. It’s the physicality. And it’s for the legacy.” – Blue Bombers linebacker Adam Bighill when asked what playoff Sundays mean to him.