Game Preview | WPG at TOR

THE 4-1-1

Kickoff: Today, 3 p.m., BMO Field, Toronto
TV: TSN, ESPN2, Yare
Radio: 680 CJOB; Sirius XM (Canada Talks, channel 167).
BetRegal.ca odds: Bombers by 3.5 points.
Streaks: The Bombers are 2-0 to start the 2021 season and dating back to ’19 and the Grey Cup playoff run are on a six-game winning streak. Toronto is 1-1 this season after going 4-14 and missing the playoffs in 2019.
Home/Road: The Bombers were 3-6 on the road in 2019 and this will mark their first regular-season road game since a 37-33 loss in Calgary on October 19, 2019. Saturday’s game will be the Argos 2021 home opener. They were 3-6 at home in ’19.
Head to head: The Bombers are 7-2 in their last nine games against Toronto, including last week’s 20-7 win at IG Field. Their last visit to the Centre of the Universe in 2019 featured a blown 20-point lead which, at the time, was the largest in club history (later eclipsed by the 24-point advantage surrendered in a 38-37 loss in Montreal that September).

The QBs

The Bombers will start veteran Zach Collaros. He is 37-32 in his career starts and now 6-0 as a Bomber. He is 8-4 in 12 career starts against Toronto.

The Argos will roll with Nick Arbuckle, who came off the bench in last week’s loss to Winnipeg to replace MacLeod Bethel-Thompson. Arbuckle is 4-3 as a starter and 0-1 in his one career start against Winnipeg.

The Coaches

Wpg: Mike O’Shea: 58-52; vs. Tor: 8-5

Tor: Ryan Dinwiddie: 1-1; vs. Wpg: 0-1

Roster Shuffle

The Bombers have made three roster changes since Week 2. Coming aboard are WR Darvin Adams and LBs Kevin Brown and Nakas Onyeka. Off are SB Nic Demski, CB David Rivers and DB Redha Kramdi.

This will be the first game of the season for Adams, as a shoulder injury had him on the injured list for the first two weeks.

Milestone Watch

Bombers FB Mike Miller needs two special-teams tackles to break Jason Arakgi’s all-time CFL record of 190.

What’s interesting about the CFL’s all-time special-teams tackles list is the Bomber-related content – Miller is soon to be first overall, third overall is current club President and CEO Wade Miller (185), tied for fourth (176) are Sean Millington, who spent 1998 with the club, and Brendan Rogers, a fourth-round Bombers pick in ’91 who played here from 1991-95, while current head coach Mike O’Shea is eighth overall (169).

3 Bombers to Watch

#8 Zach Collaros, QB: The Bombers pivot threw for 292 yards last week, his best since arriving in Winnipeg. Moving around the pocket like he has rewound the clock back to 2015, Collaros is running an efficient offence that has been missing some primary weapons in Andrew Harris and Darvin Adams through the first two weeks of the season.

#32 Deatrick Nichols, DB: He had an interception and a fumble recovery last week and has so far passed every test with straight A’s. Former XFL interception leader has certainly flashed some ballhawk skills, too.

#34 Jesse Briggs, LB: Efficient, steady and solid in his start last week. His play gives the Bombers so many options with the ratio and he’s staking a claim to keep the job even when the roster is healthy

X Factor: #1 Darvin Adams, WR

The veteran wideout makes his 2021 debut after missing the first two games with a shoulder injury. There was an obvious chemistry between him and Collaros in the ’19 playoff run and again in training camp before he was hurt. If they can rekindle that instantly on Saturday the Bombers offence becomes that much more powerful.

Notable

Both the Bombers and Riders take their perfect 2-0 starts into action on Saturday. The last time both teams opened a season 2-0 was 2003 and the two clubs have never both started a year 3-0 in their long histories.

Quotable

”I’d give myself a ‘C’. There’s stuff I know I can do better, stuff I left out there on the field. The sky’s the limit for me, but right now I’d say I’m at a ‘C’.

“That’s just who I am. I’ve always been hard on myself. I know that whenever I go out there and whatever I get on the stat line I know I can do better and I can get more. That’s how I’m always going to be. I’m always hungry. I’m always trying to get it. I’m always trying to eat. I know I left a lot of food out there on the field the last couple of games. I’m just trying to play a perfect game for my teammates.” – Bombers WR Kenny Lawler, who leads the CFL with 14 receptions through two weeks.

Critical Number: 52

The total number of points allowed by the Bombers in the last five games dating back to their 2019 playoff run. Winnipeg has yielded just 13 points in two games this year and in the playoffs allowed just 39 points in wins over Calgary, Saskatchewan and Hamilton.

“We have yet to know what that ceiling is,” said Bombers safety Brandon Alexander of the defence. “All we’re doing is looking up right now. We don’t see a bar up there or anything. We’re just jumping as high as we can to keep going. I feel like every single day, not even every single game, there’s something to work on and get better at – especially in the back end. We’ve just got to continue to progress, continue to be who we are and we’ll get to where we need to.”

FYI:

  • CFL teams which have won the turnover battle outright are 8-0 this season.
  • Lst week’s game marked the first time since 2015 a quarterback other than Matt Nichols started for the Bombers against Toronto. Collaros was at the controls, ending a streak of eight straight Nichols vs. Toronto starts. Previous to the run by Nichols the Bombers had started Dominique Davis, Robert Marve and Drew Willy in games vs. the Argos.
  • Cllaros completed 32 passes last week, the second highest total of his career (career-high: 34-53 for 439 yards, 3 TD and 0 INT in a loss to Calgary in 2016). Interestingly, when attempting 40 passes or more the teams Collaros has quarterbacked are just 4-7.

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