A lot has changed since the Winnipeg Blue Bombers last met the Toronto Argonauts a little less than a year ago.
At the top of the list is the pointspread. Last October in Winnipeg, the Bombers were favored by 8 points. On Wednesday it’s the Boatmen favored by eight on home field.
The reason for the 16-point shift in the odds is a combination of the Argos looking like a much better club than last year and the Blue Bombers looking much worse. Especially the latter.
Winnipeg, the defending Eastern champion, is 0-3 straight up and against the spread and the Bombers have scored the fewest and allowed the most points through the first three weeks. Yikes.
The slow start likely stems from a number of personnel changes in the offseason, which has left the team struggling to find its rhythm. More changes are coming this week with more than a dozen players on the injury list.
Alex Brink will start in place of the injured (again) Buck Pierce at quarterback. Brink had to leave last week’s game with a concussion though and was replaced by third-stringer Joey Elliott. Winny’s QBs have been sacked a league-worst 11 times this season.
Winnipeg will also start a new face at tailback when Chad Simpson gets the nod after missing the first three games with a leg injury. Winnipeg is averaging just 70 yards on the ground per game so far.
It won’t be easy to improve those numbers against a very physical Argos defense. Toronto allows a league-best 296 yards per game and just 79 per game on the ground, but you really have to watch this team to see how hard it hits and aggressively it gets to the ball.
The Argos though are allowing a disappointing 30 points per game, which isn’t entirely the defense’s fault. Toronto has given up an embarrassing three return touchdowns over the past two games – one from a punt and two from missed field goals. One of those almost cost them their lone win against Calgary two weeks ago. Special teams took a huge hit last week also when star kicker Noel Prefontaine suffered a hip injury that has the 38-year-old out for the season and considering retirement.
Ricky Ray has Toronto’s offense clicking and it leads the league with 434 yards per game. He's had some huge help from Cory Boyd, the leading rusher so far in the CFL in yards and TDs. It’s a little surprising with those numbers that the Argos are just 1-2 straight up and against the spread but all their games have been close with a combined differential of just 16 points.
They won their lone game at home where they’ll be again Wednesday.
Covers contest users have Toronto pegged as their top CFL play
so far this week.