Lions' Grey Cup Defence Begins at Home to Bombers
It’s a new season, but some things never get old — including the desire of some players to get into their opponents’ heads. DALE PERTH looks at what effect a tweet written by a Winnipeg player might have, and how the opening game for both teams could play out.
Two days after the Lions beat the Bombers 34-23 in the 2011 Grey Cup, Blue Bombers defensive back Jonathan Hefney posted this on Twitter:
“Everything about the Grey Cup was set up for B.C. Y’all still an average team with some of the softest players in the league”
Bulletin-board material like this is a double-edged sword. It can make the player who posted it look like a sore loser; it could also make the targeted team puff out its virtual chest and say, “Oh, yeah?! We’ll show YOU who’s soft!” and then proceed to make silly plays or take foolish penalties. While B.C. isn’t known to be that kind of team, they are only human after all. Maintaining discipline is one of the hallmarks of a winning squad, so it would be surprising if they managed to get suckered into stirring this pot further.
In fact, the hosts should be able to look beyond, because there’s history to be made. Lions wideout Geroy Simon needs 67 receiving yards to surpass retired Bombers great Milt Stegall’s mark of 15,153. Simon got his start with Winnipeg in 1999 and won a Grey Cup there as a Lion in 2006. Helping Simon achieve the milestone should be an important part of the Lions’ game plan on Friday night.
B.C. quarterback Travis Lulay appears to have no problem sticking to a plan, and he has shown that he’s the real deal with his Grey Cup MVP perforrmance last November. Lulay has justified Wally Buono’s decision to go with him over Buck Pierce, who ended up going to Winnipeg to become the Bombers’ signal-caller.
For their part, Winnipeg has more to worry about than the potential impact of a tweet. They will have to go into the Lions’ den without running back Chris Garrett, who tore his Achilles tendon in practice and is gone for the season. It’s a huge setback for Big Blue’s offence, as it leaves them with only untested rookies such as Bloi-Dei Dorzon.
Fans of CFL betting should know that the Lions are currently listed at -9.0 for this game. The Moneyline spread is greater than the Sakatchewan-Hamilton opener, and the Over/Under was set at +51.0 at the time this preview was posted.
Those thinking of wagering on the Bombers should know that before the 99th Grey Cup, Winnipeg had beaten B.C. three straight times and covered the spread in two of those contests. Be wary, though: this is not the same team as last season. If there is any swagger left in this Bombers defence, they have to show it’s there without the likes of Odell Willis and Doug Brown. Starting your season on the road, and facing the champions to boot, is never an easy prospect for any team.