Sunday the Riders travel to that peepee soaked heck hole known as Winnipeg for the annual Banjo Bowl. I still think that since Troy Westwood is no longer in the league that we should rename the annual game based on more recent inflammatory comments... but evidently the Blue Bombers do not support my “Crotch Bowl” proposal. Maybe they’d like it better if we switched it from a bowl to a cup.
History is on the Bombers’ side in this contest as they lead the all-time Banjo Bowl series 3-2. History, however, is about the only thing on the Bombers’ side for this game.
Last week we saw exactly what you can expect from the Bombers… an offense that relies entirely on Fred Reid for success and completely implodes when he is contained. They have a QB who is a turnover machine, an O-line that can’t block and a middle linebacker too stupid to handle the relatively simple opening coin toss. The rest of their defense has a couple standout players, but as we proved last week they can be made to look very average.
Things don’t really get any easier for the Bombers. They were clearly outmatched by our players last week and this week our roster will be even stronger. Our offense will be bolstered by the return of Andy Fantuuuuuz and our special teams will received a huge boost from the returns of Neal Hughes, Leron Mitchell and Kitwana Jones. Winnipeg was a worse team than us last week and we have improved significantly heading into the rematch while they have not. That doesn’t bode well for the Bombers. Maybe Kelly will try and bolster his defense by starting a former Grey Cup MVP cornerback. I mean, James Johnson was directly responsible for the Bombers’ last Banjo Bowl victory in 2007.
Game plan remains the exact same as last week: contain Fred Reid at all costs. You can bet Kelly will try and throw some wrinkles at us in an attempt to spring him but going against a weak O-line I’m very confident in our front seven’s ability to stop Reid and force Bishop to embarrass himself through the air.
Defensively, I would expect Winnipeg to come out very aggressive. They lead the league in INTs and have a pretty decent run D so we need to be careful. Last week we used the right mix of slow methodical drives and shots downfield (we just need Durant to hook up with the receivers when they get open deep) to keep them off balance. We need to continue that, and a big part of it comes from Cates. Whether by running or catching out of the backfield he needs to chew up yards to open up things for our receivers. Since our defense is guaranteed to create turnovers, if our offense can control the ball we will be set.
I’m fully aware that Michael Bishop had a pretty big game at last year’s Banjo Bowl but given that he doesn’t once again have the luxury of playing against a really bad Bomber defense I don’t expect an encore performance. Well that’s not entirely true… he will once again be completing long passes to the Riders.
While I expect Winnipeg to play a lot better at home, they just aren’t as good of a football team as we are. The return of Fantuz, Hughes, Jones and Mitchell will be more than enough of a boost to overcome the change in home field advantage.
Riders by 10
Those of you brave enough to travel to Winnipeg to see the game live may want to invest in nose plugs and a bulletproof vest… but should you survive the smell and rampant gang violence keep an eye out for the whiteboards the Bombers use to call plays in. My sources indicate there’s a good chance you will see the following…