The top two teams in the West are set to square off for Calgary’s 18th and final regular-season game in 2017.
With a 13-3-1 record and the top spot safely secured, the Red and White will be up against a Blue Bombers team looking to book a home playoff date of its own.
“There are opportunities for guys (this week),” indicated head coach Dave Dickenson. “We will have a different roster and we’re going to play well. We want to play hard and just try to improve as a team. But certainly you’ll see new faces and that’s OK. We still want to play well and go out and put on a good performance.”
In particular, quarterback Andrew Buckley will be making his first career start for his hometown team. Buckley was drafted in 2015 before returning to school for his final year of eligibility. He was then the third-stringer in 2016 before moving up the depth chart to the No. 2 option at the conclusion of June’s training camp.
Winnipeg is 11-6 and will host the Western Semi-Final with a win over the Stamps or an Eskimos loss to the Roughriders on Saturday.
In place of the injured Matt Nichols, Dan LeFevour will line up under centre for the Bombers.
As for the Stampeders, they’ll be looking to establish momentum heading into the post-season after recently enduring two losses in a row for the first time in more than five years.
“We focus on that next game,” Dickenson specified. “It’s not like we’ve been in this situation a lot. A little adversity to me can be a positive. How do you handle it – do you dwell on it and let it beat you down or do you look at it as an opportunity to accomplish something and overcome something?
“Certainly there’s some adversity, there’s no doubt about that, but hopefully we do the latter and we attack it and use it to get through it and get better.”
Last Saturday’s visit to Commonwealth Stadium ended with a 29-20 defeat to the Esks. DaVaris Daniels went for 137 yards on eight receptions with both Kamar Jorden and Anthony Parker finding the end zone, but Edmonton’s three majors and two singles proved to be the difference.
An upset-victory by the visiting BC Lions over the Blue Bombers in Week 19 saw Jonathon Jennings throw for more than 400 yards. All three of Winnipeg’s QBs attempted at least seven passes.
A pair of notable milestones could be achieved by Stamps players tomorrow. The league’s rushing title is in sight for Jerome Messam and the 100th and record-breaking sack for Charleston Hughes would top the team’s all-time record books.
Both offences have been dominant at times this year as the Stampeders and Blue Bombers are the only two clubs to score more than 500 total points. They also sit No. 1 and No. 2 in terms of fewest turnovers committed, with Calgary’s 18 on track to break the CFL-low of 23 given up by BC in 2012.
The respective defences and special-teams units have been strong as well, recording more interceptions and made field goals than any of the seven other squads this season.
“There really aren’t any guarantees in the Western Final,” reminded Dickenson when considering the upcoming schedule. “Whether we win this game or lose this game, I know that’s going to be a tough game (to get to the Grey Cup). I want our guys working hard and getting better and I want them thinking they’re as physically ready and as mentally ready as possible.”