There is no better party in Canada than the Grey Cup. Fans from across the country flock together to celebrate the 3 down game. This year, loyal CFL fans are in Vancouver, getting ready for the 99th edition of the Grey Cup. As an added bonus, the hometown BC Lions are in the game this year, set to face my Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Both teams finished in first place in their respective divisions but both had up and down seasons. The Bombers had a terrific start winning 7 out of their first 8 games. However they went 3-7 down the stretch which was a cause for concern. The Bombers eased some of those concerns last week with a 19-3 victory over Hamilton in the Eastern Final. The Bombers defence completely smothered Hamilton’s offence and controlled the game throughout.
The Lions on the other hand, had a horrible start, losing their first 5 games. What followed was a remarkable turnaround, as the Lions won 10 out of their last 11 games. BC made it to the Grey Cup by trouncing Edmonton 40-23 in the Western Final, thanks to a brilliant performance from quarterback Travis Lulay.
BC enters the game as 7.5 point favourites thanks to having home field advantage, and being the hottest team in the CFL. That doesn’t mean they should take the Bombers lightly. Here are some of the keys for each team to have success.
For the Bombers to win, their defence will have to continue to rise to the occasion. The Bombers led the league in sacks, total yards, passing yards, interceptions and forced turnovers. Leading the way is defensive player of the year Jovon Johnson whose 8 interceptions topped the league and defensive end Odell Willis whose 13 sacks tied for tops in the league.
The Bombers need a strong running game as well to keep BC’s high-powered offence off the field. Running back Chris Garrett had a huge game last week rushing for 190 yards and a touchdown. If Garrett can be effective running the ball, the Bombers chances will be greatly boosted.
Finally the Bombers must handle the crowd noise. The crowd at BC Place will be in a frenzy and the Bombers must dilute the noise and keep their focus. It won’t be easy as Lions fans are noted as being some of the loudest in the CFL and with the Grey Cup in the house, it will be even louder. The Bombers better bring earplugs.
For the Lions to win, Travis Lulay has to continue to be the most outstanding player in the CFL. Lulay has had a brilliant season and was wonderful in the Western Final last week. Lulay went 20 for 27 for 293 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. Lulay also rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown which brings an added dimension to his game. If Lulay can mix up the run and pass effectively and keep the Bombers defence off-balance, the Lions will be tough to stop. It doesn’t hurt Lulay that he has Geroy Simon and Arland Bruce to throw to. A deadly one two punch at receiver, Simon and Bruce will provide a tough matchup for Jovon Johnson and company.
The defence must continue its strong play. BC’s secondary led by Korey Banks and Dante Marsh has been fantastic down the stretch and have shut down opposing receivers. Meanwhile linebacker Solomon Elimimian is a tackling machine and can literally wreck an offensive game plan with his speed and physicality.
Finally the Lions have to control their emotions and handle the pressure. All the pressure will be on BC to win being at home and favoured. The Lions will have to channel that energy in a positive manner and use the fans as motivation.
Prediction: I am a Bombers fan but I don’t see them winning. I think BC will use home field as an advantage and they have too many weapons. BC wins 31-21.
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