North x South: West Final Preview

by Ryan McCarthy, BBM Staff Writer

The West Final will feature the Calgary Stampeders, and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who are focused on upsetting a home team for the second consecutive week. The Stamps hope to make a third consecutive trip to the Grey Cup while the Bombers look to advance to their first Grey Cup appearance since 2011.

Calgary made their way to the West Final when they earned a first-round bye as division champions during the regular season. Winnipeg, meanwhile, toppled rival Saskatchewan in Regina, 23-18.

The game will be played at McMahon Stadium in Calgary and will be broadcast stateside at 4:30pm on ESPN 2 and ESPN+.

Bo Levi Mitchell hopes to lead the Calgary Stampeders to their fourth consecutive Grey Cup game appearance with a win on Sunday afternoon. (Photo Credit: Derek Leung/Getty Images)

Calgary started the season 7-0, but injuries at the wide receiver position started to diminish the Stampeders and the Stamps would only win six of their next 11 games. This includes a three-game slide late in the season. Regardless of how many receivers he was forced to throw to, QB Bo Levi Mitchell had another outstanding season, throwing for over 5,000 yards and 35 touchdowns. Mitchell has been able to spread the ball around with six receivers each catching over 30 passes. The Stamps have had other receivers step up when premier receivers Kamar Jordan and DaVaris Daniels each going down with injury. Receivers Chris Matthews and Markeith Ambles along with Canadian receivers Lemar Durant and Juwan Brescacin have filled in where Jordan and Daniels left off. RB Don Jackson lead the Stamps with 924 rushing yards and three touchdowns. The Stampeders will be facing a Blue Bomber defense that slowed down Saskatchewan’s offense, limiting QB Brandon Bridge to only 100 yards passing and forced a pair of turnovers. They also sacked Bridge four times and DL Jackson Jeffcoat had two of his own. The secondary will especially have to be aware of how much Mitchell will try to spread the ball around to different receivers.

Matt Nichols had a strong game in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' win over in Saskatchewan last week. Can he produce another win in Calgary this week? (Photo Credit: Mark Taylor/Canadian Press via AP)

Winnipeg went into the cold and hostile crowd at Mosaic Stadium in Regina and came away with a victory. The Blue Bombers used their vaunted running game in the fourth quarter to control the clock, which lead to a touchdown to essentially put the game away. Head coach Mike O’Shea used an unconventional move by replacing Matt Nichols with Chris Streveler at quarterback in the fourth quarter and the gamble worked as the Bombers offense ate up the clock. RB Andrew Harris finished with 153 rushing yards and a touchdown. Like his counterpart, Nichols has plenty of weapons to throw to, namely WR Darvin Adams and Weston Dressler. The offense will be playing what has been statistically the best defense in the league in Calgary’s defense. The Stampeders’ defense was number one against the run, second against the pass, and tied for first (with Winnipeg) in turnover ratio. LB Alex Singleton finished with 129 total tackles to go with two forced fumbles. DL Micah Johnson had a career year with 14 sacks and three forced fumbles. The defense also forced 21 interceptions, four by DB Emmanuel Davis. Their best chance to win will be if they can contain Harris and get to Nichols early.

Outlook: The teams split their regular season series with Winnipeg winning their last affair at Investors Group Field. This game will be in Calgary, but unlike last week in Regina, the game will be unusually warm with gametime temperatures in the mid-40’s. This will test to see which defense will bend first. Winnipeg has been on a roll the last month and that roll will continue with another win away from home. Winnipeg 27, Calgary 24.

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