CFL Preview: Argos at Bombers

Cleo Lemon vs. Winnipeg on Sept.19 (cleoruns)

It’s a simple playoff formula for the Toronto Argonauts.

Beat Winnipeg on Saturday and you’re in; lose and face the prospect of back-to-back games against the Montreal Alouettes to decide playoff participation.

Considering the Double Blue have only beat Montreal three times since 2007, running the table is looking pretty bleak.

The Argos’ [7-8] offence has gone south since they were-5-2 in August. They haven’t amassed more than 24 points in a game since a 37-22 win over Montreal on Aug. 14.

Toronto is the only team that hasn’t scored 300 points this season. The Argos rank last in all vital passing statistics: net yards, net passing yards, completions and average passing yards per game.

After last week’s 30-3 loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, head coach Jim Barker has taken a more hands on approach with the offence.

In a kiss of death move, Barker gave rookie offensive co-ordinator Jaime Elixondo a vote of confidence on Thursday.

Barker said the offensive game plan is fine but the execution is lacking.

“Jaime’s done a good job, but sometimes you try to … I don’t want to say over-coach, but you want everything perfect … and for players that sometimes confines them,” Barker told the National Post.

“It’s about finding that happy medium where we’re still getting guys in the right spots, but they’re able to go out and play and be more natural.”

For Winnipeg [4-11] the biggest problem is failing to win the close games.

The Blue Bombers are 1-7 in games decided by games seven points or less.

Last week they dropped at tough one in Montreal, losing 22-19, courtesy of a late game fumble by T.J. Harris.

Starter Buck Pierce  went down in a Week 10 loss to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. He had eight touchdowns and four interceptions, combining for over 1200 yards of total offence.

Pierce’s replacement Steven Jyles has put up some decent numbers in the interim, throwing for 2,779 yards with 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His quarterback rating is 101.1.

Wide receivers Greg Carr, Terrence Edwards and Terence Jeffers-Harris have combined for 2,150 yards and 19 touchdowns.

The Argos top receiving trio of  Jermaine Copeland, Andre Durie and Chad Owens have totaled 1605 yards with six majors.

The Bombers are stacked on the defensive line. Phillip Hunt and Odell Willis have combined for  25 of the Bombers’ 43 sacks.

Toronto are 2-0 against the Winnipeg this year. In their last match up the Argos prevailed 17-13 on Sept.19.

Cleo Lemon threw for 90 yards with one touchdown and interception in that win.

What saved the day for the Double Blue was Owens: he returned five punts for one touchdown and 125 yards and turned four kicks into 93 yards.