Elks face big challenge taking on unbeaten Bombers in Edmonton

·4 min read

A huge challenge awaits Taylor Cornelius and the Edmonton Elks.

Cornelius helped rally the Elks (2-4) to a 32-31 road win over the Montreal Alouettes last week in his first start of the season.

But on Friday night, Edmonton faces the unbeaten Winnipeg Blue Bombers (6-0).

The defending Grey Cup champions are the CFL's lone undefeated team after knocking off previously unbeaten squads in consecutive weeks. Winnipeg dispatched the B.C. Lions 43-22 at B.C. Place Stadium on July 9 before downing the Calgary Stampeders 26-19 at IG Field on Friday night.

Winnipeg starter Zach Collaros, the CFL's outstanding player last year, is off to a great start. Collaros is the league's passing leader having completed 129-of-179 attempts (72.1 per cent) for 1,536 yards with nine touchdowns and just three interceptions.

Newcomer Greg Ellingson has been a great fit with the Bombers. The former Elk is leading the CFL in receiving with 34 catches for 518 yards and three TDs.

Ellingson had 11 receptions for 152 yards against Calgary while Carlton Agudosi recorded six receptions for 70 yards and two TDs.

Cornelius completed 19-of-31 passes for 230 yards with a TD and interceptions against Montreal. Edmonton outscored the Alouettes 14-0 in the fourth quarter to earn the victory.

But Winnipeg counters with a defence that's the CFL's stingiest in offensive points (17.3) and tied for first in both fewest offensive TDs allowed (seven) and most interceptions (nine). What's more, the Bombers don't beat themselves, having committed a league-low six turnovers.

Edmonton has committed 16 turnovers (second-most), including a CFL-high 11 interceptions.

At first glance, this would appear to be a potential trap game for Winnipeg. The Bombers will undoubtedly be heavy favourites, with Edmonton seemingly having nothing to lose coming in.

But as talented as Winnipeg is, the club is also very well coached by head man Mike O'Shea and his staff. Over-confidence shouldn't be an issue.

Pick: Winnipeg.

Montreal Alouettes versus Ottawa Redblacks (Thursday night)

At Ottawa, Montreal (1-4) looks to get interim coach/GM Danny Maciocia a win after squandering a 19-point lead versus Edmonton. The Als were flagged 13 times for 195 yards and had three turnovers against the Elks. Trevor Harris was 19-of-26 passing for 241 yards with two TDs and two interceptions but is 5-2 versus the Redblacks (0-5). Caleb Evans makes a second start after completing 18-of-30 passes for 203 yards with a TD and two interceptions in a 25-23 loss to Hamilton. He also ran for game-high 62 yards and two TDs .

Pick: Montreal.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats versus B.C. Lions (Thursday night)

At Vancouver, the Lions (3-1) play for the first time since their loss to Winnipeg. Canadian starter Nathan Rourke is averaging 318 yards passing per game this season. But B.C. will be without linebacker Bo Lokombo (elbow), who was hurt against the Bombers and went on the six-game injured list. Dane Evans had 342 yards passing with two TDs versus Ottawa but Hamilton (1-4) has lost the turnover battle in every one of its games this season.

Pick: B.C.

Toronto Argonauts versus Saskatchewan Roughriders (Sunday night)

The game at Regina was moved from Saturday to Sunday after an outbreak of COVID-19 on the Roughriders led to the cancellation of practices this week. As of Wednesday there were 10 Roughriders players in various stages of COVID protocol. The suspension of on-field activities gives Riders QB Cody Fajardo (knee) much-needed down time. Toronto beat the Riders 30-24 on Saturday in Wolfville, N.S. Riders receiver Duke Williams (helmet throwing) and Argos defensive lineman Eli Mencer (bad language at an official) might not play due to one-game suspensions for separate incidents last weekend, pending appeal.

Pick: Toronto.

Last week: 2-2.

CP's overall record: 19-4.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 20, 2022.

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had Winnipeg hosting Edmonton this week. In fact, the Elks are the home team.

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