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Canadian Football League: The Winnipeg Blue Bombers had the most dynamic offense in the CFL in 2017, which helped lead the team to an impressive 12-6 record and a spot in the playoffs. However, Winnipeg lost a shootout to Edmonton, 39-32, in the West Division Semifinals to end a once-promising season. The Blue Bombers hope to put up a similar number of points in 2018 while fortifying a defense to make the team a true contender.
Winnipeg is heading into its fifth season with coach Mike O’Shea, who will aim to lead the team to the Grey Cup. The Blue Bombers hope to have an upper-tier offense once again, but that was dealt a significant blow right before the season. Star quarterback Matt Nichols is expected to miss four to six weeks with a knee injury. He threw for 4,472 yards and 28 touchdowns against only eight interceptions a season ago. Winnipeg will rely on rookie Chris Streveler in Nichols’ absence and the team is hoping to remain afloat with its star quarterback watching from the sideline. There may not be a more impactful injury in the earlygoing than the serious injury to Nichols.
When Nichols does return, the Blue Bombers’ passing game could be even more explosive this season as they added three receivers among their first four picks in the draft. Rashaun Simonise was the team’s first pick, followed by Daniel Petermann and Tyrone Pierre. If they can add more options in the passing game Winnipeg may be able to outscore foes once again in 2018.
Winnipeg’s defense is the side of the ball that needs some work. The Blue Bombers gave up 492 points a year ago, which was on the high side within the league. With Nichols sidelined for awhile it is crucial for the team to stiffen up defensively to remain competitive in the likely scenario there are issues scoring points.
CFL Odds To Win the Grey Cup at BetCRIS
Calgary Stampeders 2/1
Edmonton Eskimos 6/1
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 13/2
Toronto Argonauts 13/2
Hamilton Tiger-Cats 7/1
Saskatchewan Roughriders 15/2
BC Lions 10/1
Ottawa Redblacks 12/1
Montreal Alouettes 18/1
The Blue Bombers have the third-best odds to win the Grey Cup in 2018, although those projections came before the injury to Nichols. With the news of the quarterback injury, the team’s odds will drop. If Nichols can get healthy and the team can stay afloat in his absence, Winnipeg should still have a good shot at making it to the playoffs. Once there, anything can happen, as the Toronto Argonauts showed in 2017 by winning the Grey Cup despite finishing the regular season only 9-9.
The Blue Bombers have an elite offense when injuries aren’t a factor, which is why they have to be considered a worthy contender as long as they don’t start too slowly.
Grey Cup Titles
10 -- With 10 Grey Cup titles to their name, the Blue Bombers are among the most decorated franchises in CFL history, but it’s been nearly 30 years since they’ve won a title. Winnipeg’s most recent title was in 1990. The team has appeared in five Grey Cup games since that win, but has come up empty every time in recent years. The Blue Bombers first Grey Cup title came in 1935, five years after the franchise was founded.
The injury to Nichols is a big early blow but the Blue Bombers hope to overcome it and compete for a Grey Cup in 2018 in CFL gambling.
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