Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Hamilton Tiger-Cats (-5.5, 54.5)
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ defense made a statement with 11 sacks in two games against the Montreal Alouettes to start the season. Winnipeg will try to apply the same pressure to quarterback Henry Burris and the host Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Saturday in Guelph, Ont. The Blue Bombers will be the second team to visit Hamilton at its temporary home - the Tiger-Cats lost to the Edmonton Eskimos in heavy rain in Week 2 and are the only team without a win.
Burris, who ranks third in the CFL in passing yards with 595, believes his offense has to get better, but the problem with Hamilton is defense. The Tiger-Cats allowed a league-high 69 points through two games and look especially vulnerable against the run after surrendering 298 total rushing yards. Winnipeg running back Chad Simpson, limited to 90 yards, will look to exploit the same holes Edmonton and the Toronto Argonauts found in Hamilton’s porous secondary.
TV: 6:30 p.m. ET, TSN
ABOUT THE BLUE BOMBERS (1-1): Defensive tackles Bryant Turner and Zach Anderson and defensive ends Kenny Mainor and Alex Hall combined for nine of the 11 sacks against Montreal, forming the core of Winnipeg’s intimidating defensive line. Veteran quarterback Buck Pierce has struggled to start the season, completing 38-of-65 passes and throwing four interceptions. Pierce’s favorite target has been slot back Cory Watson, who is on pace to surpass his 2011 career-high 793 receiving yards with 143 in two games.
ABOUT THE TIGER-CATS (0-2): Burris connected with wide receiver Andy Fantuz for 155 yards and one touchdown in the season opener, but Fantuz missed Week 2 with an injury and was not at practice Tuesday. To help bolster their depleted offense, the Tiger-Cats called up wide receiver Glenn MacKay, who is from nearby Burlington, Ont., and resides in Hamilton. MacKay made 18 receptions for 196 yards with the Tiger-Cats in 2011 but has never scored a touchdown during stints for three different CFL teams.
* Blue Bombers are 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Under is 5-0 in the last five meetings in Hamilton.
* Blue Bombers are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 July games.
1. Hamilton’s loss to Edmonton drew 12,612 fans at Alumni Stadium, which hosted its first CFL game.
2. Tiger-Cats Rookie RB C.J. Gable, who has scored three touchdowns, was also absent from practice Tuesday.
3. Winnipeg SB Kito Poblah remains week-to-week with an injury suffered in preseason.
BC Lions at Edmonton Eskimos (3.5, 49)
After dropping its season opener to the Calgary Stampeders, the BC Lions return to Alberta with a home victory under their belts and a winning record in their sights when they visit the Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday. Led by running back Andrew Harris, who recorded 152 combined yards, BC handled the Toronto Argonauts in Week 2, shutting down Toronto’s run game one week after surrendering 172 rushing yards to Calgary running back Jon Cornish.
Edmonton is returning home where it lost to the Saskatchewan Roughriders 39-18 to open the season. Quarterback Mike Reilly looked much better in Week 2, throwing for two touchdowns and running for another in a road victory over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Reilly and running back Hugh Charles combined for 173 rushing yards, a trend that will need to continue in order to open up defenses for Reilly’s developing passing game.
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, TSN
ABOUT THE LIONS (1-1): BC’s defense will be without linebacker Adam Bighill for at least two weeks after he suffered an ankle injury against Toronto. Bighill, who led the team with 104 tackles last year, will be replaced by veteran linebacker Anton McKenzie. With slot back Shawn Gore also expected to miss time because of a head injury, quarterback Travis Lulay will lean heavily on slot back Nick Moore (162 receiving yards) and wide receiver Emmanuel Arceneaux (153). Two games into his first CFL season, cornerback Cord Parks leads BC with 10 tackles and one interception.
ABOUT THE ESKIMOS (1-1): Reilly’s favorite target is veteran slot back Fred Stamps, who has 150 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Stamps has 6,278 receiving yards in his seven-year CFL career - all with Edmonton. Linebacker JC Sherritt, who set a CFL record with 130 tackles last year, has a team-leading 15 tackles and one sack. Aside from Sherritt, the Eskimos’ defense has been questionable as four of their five sacks (and both interceptions) came against a Tiger-Cats team that struggled to control the ball in heavy rain.
*Over is 4-0 in the Eskimos’ last four home games.
* Lions are 1-6 ATS in their last seven road games.
* Eskimos are 5-1 ATS in their last six Week 3 games.
1. The Lions have won five of seven games against the Eskimos over the last two seasons.
2. Edmonton OL Cliff Louis was fined an undisclosed amount for a dangerous block on Tiger-Cats DL Eric Norwood in Week 2.
3. BC is second in the CFL power rankings following Week 2; Edmonton is seventh.