It’s a date many football fans circle on their calendar even before the schedule is even out. It’s one of the most anticipated dates on the regular season schedule. It’s a holiday from work that ironically celebrates labour… It’s the Annual Labour Day Classic.
As is tradition here on the blog I will open with some facts about our neighbours to the East given that many will be loading up their station wagons and making the trek to Regina.
Fact: The Manitoba Coat of Arms is actually an accurate portrayal of the province’s most famous beauty contest, featuring the top 4.
Fact: Based on the sucktitude of their sports franchises the city is in danger of having an injunction remove the reference to “win” in their city name. That would leave them with the option of just going with Nipeg or the more literarily correct Loserpeg.
Fact: Most adults from Manitoba were in elementary school when the Bombers last won the cup.
Fact: Many of those adults are still in elementary school
Fact: In spite of the rampant inbreeding and rock bottom intelligence levels of Manitoba residents, they would have been better off the hire someone internal to the province to run the Bombers than the gong show they have created for themselves.
Onto the game…
As much of an event as Labour Day is for Rider fans, it has certainly gone downhill over the past few years for those outside of Rider Nations… in particular Bomber fans. In ’07 we were treated to the last true game deserving of the title “Classic”. In ’08 we started Michael Bishop (enough said). In ’09 they started Michael Bishop which should be “enough said” but there was also the whole Mike Kelly/Pacman Jones/White Boards/Barrin Simpson botching the coin toss fiasco. In 2011, the Bombers got a glimmer of hope with them having a successful team and us having an embarrassing one… but we still ended up embarrassing them. Well at least until last year when we redefined the meaning of embarrassing them.
Since 2005, the Labour Day Classic has meant guaranteed win day for the Riders. And the Bombers generally seem to roll in in some ridiculous form of disarray as a franchise and this year his no different. They fired their CEO, GM and OC. They will likely be firing their current HC at the end of the season. They have declared no less than 3 different QBs as “their starter for the year” and now brought in a 4th guy (who will likely also be dubbed “the starter for the year” at some point). And that is without even getting into their issues at OL, ineptitude on defense, struggles in kicking and general terribleness.
The Bombers have the worst passing defense in the CFL and are allowing opposing QBs to complete a mind blowing 71% of their passes. Honestly the could likely improve their pass D by just forgoing coverages and just standing there idle and praying the ball accidentally bounces off of one of them. The only redeeming aspect of their defense is the D-line which leads the league in sacks.
Also, for reasons I can’t really explain they have the best run defense in the CFL. I assume that’s because teams find them easier to pass than Go in Monopoly (or Edna Krabappoly if that’s more your thing). Offensive keys will be blocking upfront to keep Durant upright and give him time to pick apart their abysmal secondary. I expect Sheets to be stuffed early but break out late in the game (as per normal). Running a couple screens early will help slow down the pass rush and neutralize the only part of the Bomber D that is of concern.
And if you thought I was critical of their defense, just wait until I break down their offense… which I hesitate to even call an offense because that would imply they have the ability to score. They have 5… 5! Passing TDs this entire season. They have also amassed more penalty yards than rushing yards. Early signs point to Justin Goltz getting the start but I expect to see at least one other QB during the game. I secretly hope its Pierce so we can play the traditional Buck Pierce Injury Pool game. Either way our D should be able to manhandle whatever they throw at us. Their OL is about as good at protecting the WB as their DBs are at protecting against the pass. So our front 4 should have a big game. The only thing that concerns me about the Bombers O is word that Cory Watson may be back from injury and he at least brings some talent and physicality to compliment Edwards. But good receivers are about as useless as shampoo to a bald man when the QB is terrible (or on his back, or then stretcher)
Get lead early, force them to attempt to pass and be aggressive… basically just play our game and don’t let up in any phases and this should be our 8th win without too much trouble. I know we proved in ’11 that records don’t matter on Labour Day but honestly I just don’t see a way the Bombers can win this one (short of mafia intervention).
Riders by 18
See you in the stands. Let’s rock the stadium 45K strong.