The Western Division Semi-Final between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Saskatchewan Roughriders is slated for Sunday afternoon at Mosaic Stadium in Regina. CFL odds makers have tabbed the Green Riders as a token home town fave of -3 points but the Bombers are thinking upset all the way.
CFL Playoffs: Bombers and Riders
Odds: Riders -3 and O/U 51.5
The Roughriders were 12-6 on the season and they come into this contest having won five of their past six games. Saskatchewan was 6th in scoring with 25.0 PPG. They also ranked 4th in defensive scoring, bolstered by a 21.9 PPGA average at home. The Riders beat Winnipeg 31-23 in the Labour Day Classic but the weather has gotten all Canadian up in the prairies. Sub-zero temperatures and winds gusting to 30 km/h are expected.
RB Andrew Harris rushed for 1,390 yards and 8 TDs this season, leading the CFL for a second-straight year
Winnipeg will lean on its league-leading ground game that churned out 134.9 RYPG this season. Andrew Harris will have to be a big factor if the Bombers hope to advance. The Most Outstanding Canadian in 2017, Harris led the CFL in rushing yards for a second-straight season in 2018. In his third year with the Bombers, Harris averaged 5.8 RYPC. The Riders D was second overall against the rush, limiting opponents to 4.9 RYPC.
Ball control will be the key to victory for the Bombers and we’ll look for alternate QB Chris Streveler to contribute with short-yardage situations, draws and sneaks as he did throughout the year.
BOMBERS AND RIDERS BETTING TIPS
The Bombers are 19-8-1 O/U on the road the past three seasons and that has earned us a fair total here. A closer look reveals that six of those overs came on extended rest of more than seven days. Winnipeg was favored in another four overs and all were against lesser teams from the East. Winnipeg is 2-4-1 O/U in its past seven Western road games and one of the overs was against the Stamps, the other in a nothing game at Edmonton where Mike O’Shea rested his starters.
Matt Nichols will get the start and O’Shea is expecting a big performance. He is comfortable in the role of underdog. Nichols has been up against the odds his entire career on depth charts and through various injuries. He’ll rely on Harris for protection and in passing situations early. If Winnipeg can get out in front, they’ll have the opportunity to control the tempo of this game. Divisional road dogs off a loss are 6-12 O/U in November and 11-6-1 ATS. We like Winnipeg’s chances for an upset, but Mosaic has always been a tough venue. Their past 10 visits, Winnipeg is 3-6 SU and 8-0-1 O/U. We are hoping they can buck the trend.
CFL Playoff Picks: Take the Bombers and Riders Under 51.5 points