The BC Lions and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will round out a shortened Week 6 in the Canadian Football League this evening when the 3-2 Lions host the 1-4 Blue Bombers at BC Place Stadium.
This is the first meeting between the two teams since last August when the Lions edged the Bombers in Winnipeg. The loss triggered the firing of then head coach Paul LaPolice and made way for defensive coordinator Tim Burke to make the move to sideline boss.
The Lions are coming off a disastrous loss on the road to the Toronto Argonauts which has forced many into thinking that tonight’s game will be a no contest victory for the Lions due to the bitter taste they still have in their mouth from last Tuesday’s loss.
However, Lions starting quarterback Travis Lulay has struggled against the blue and gold in six previous regular season starts.
The Bombers are the only team in which Lulay has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns against (six interceptions to five touchdowns). Lulay has also failed to throw for a touchdown pass in three of the head-to-head meetings, which is an even more astounding fact when you consider that since becoming the full-time starter in late 2010, Lulay has failed to throw for a touchdown in just five total games.
Lions running back Andrew Harris has rushed for back-to-back 100-yard games but his task gets a little bit taller against the Bombers who pose a league-best rush defence, holding teams to just 3.8 yards per carry.
That stat is a bit skewed however, as in the past three weeks the Bombers have allowed over 1,000 yards passing in addition to seeing opposing quarterbacks complete 87% of passes against them.
Bombers head coach Tim Burke mentioned earlier in the week that the team has been working to improve their first down playcalling and first down gains. He also claimed that running back Chad Simpson will get the ball more.
There is no doubt that the Bombers have underutilized the second-year CFL back which may be in part due to the fact that they have trailed after the first quarter in all five games played this season.
Coming into tonight’s game the Bombers have the worst first down offence in the CFL and given the fact that Justin Goltz will make his first career road start it seems to make sense that in order to help him out they need to slow the game down and get Simpson more touches.
Using a shorter more efficient passing game on first down would help their cause as well. The Bombers have a league low 16 second down attempts of three yards or less, as well as a league-high 43 two and outs primarily due to the fact that they had been trying to take the top off the defence more times than they should.
- Lions placekicker Paul McCallum enters the game with a current streak of 22 consecutive field goals made as he looks to chase down Stamps kicker Rene Paredes for his old record.
- Travis Lulay’s career QB rating against the Blue Bombers is 78.8. Of course it does not include his 300+ yard, two touchdown performance in the 99th Grey Cup.
- Last week Andrew Harris became the first Lions running back to rush for back-to-back 100 yard games in six seasons. If he is able to rush for 100 yards today he will be the first to do so since 1998.
- In the loss to the Argos last Tuesday, the Lions failed to score a touchdown for the first time in 132 games. (November 5, 2005 – a 13-12 loss to Saskatchewan)
- Lions halfback Ryan Phillips will play in his 150th career game – also the same number of consecutive games played. The nine-year veteran has not missed a single game in his career.
- The Lions are 40-1 since 2007 when they hold the opponent to less than 20 points in a game. (38% of games played)
- Coming into Week 6 the Lions are the only team to not record points on their first possession of the game.
- Leading receiver Nick Moore will not play, but the team gains back Emmanuel Arceneaux who leads the CFL in yards per reception with 26.
- The Blue Bombers have trailed after the first quarter in nearly 75% of their games the past two seasons. (17 times in 23 games)
- Winnipeg’s league-worst first down offence has averaged 4.9 yards per play.
- Blue Bomber quarterbacks have completed 70.1% of second down passes as opposed to 54.1% of first down passes.
- The Bombers offence has a league-high 43 two and out possessions which has contributed to their league low time of possession at 27 minutes and 36 seconds.
- Defensively the Bombers rank second in the league in stopping the opponent on second down at 41.4%.
- Home away from home? The Bombers have allowed 18 points per game on the road while allowing 37 points per game at home.
- Back in the lineup, import receiver Chris Matthews needs to improve upon his league worst reception percentage. The second-year California native has caught just six of 20 passes thrown his way.