Eastern Division rivals that could be jockeying for playoff positioning all season long square off at Ivor Wynne Stadium, as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats (9-9, 13-5 ATS in 2009) – Hamilton snuck up on a ton of teams last season and ended up posting a very respectable .500 record. An early exit from the playoffs didn’t sit well, but at least the Tabbies earned a game in Steeltown in the second season for the first time in the better part of a decade. There is a huge controversy about who should be starting on Opening Day for the Ti-Cats at quarterback, but it appears as though this is Kevin Glenn’s job to lose. Glenn threw for 3,077 yards and 18 touchdowns as a part-time starter last season. This year, all of his best offensive weapons are returning, including WR Arland Bruce. After being picked up as a free agent after getting cut by the Argonauts, Bruce was absolutely on fire in Hamilton. He had four 100+ yard receiving games and three more over 90 yards. Add former Edmonton Eskimo WR Maurice Mann to the bunch, and the Tabbies might have a heck of an offense this season.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers (7-11, 9-9 ATS in 2009) – After yet another disappointing season, the Bombers decided to make a change at the top, dismissing Mike Kelly and bringing in Paul LaPolice and an entirely new staff to try to turn around the attitude in the city that sometimes is affectionately referred to as “Loseipeg.” RB Fred Reid and his backup Yverson Bernard are going to be looked upon as the cogs for an offense that has historically struggled. Reid broke the single game rushing record last year in BC Place against the Lions, rushing for 260 yards on 26 carries. However, Reid only had one other 100+ yard rushing game all season long. Rotating quarterbacks didn’t work last year for the Bombers, so this season, they made it a point to try to bring in a bona fide veteran to nail down the position. When he is healthy, QB Buck Pierce is amongst the best in the league. However, he isn’t a miracle worker, especially when he is under pressure. Pierce has suffered enough concussions in his career to be considered a prize fighter in the ring.
The Blue Bombers aren’t exactly a train wreck quite yet this season, but once Pierce gets hurt (and inevitably, it will probably happen), the wheels may come off. Until then though, we aren’t quite ready to back the Tabbies on the road laying points. Winnipeg starts its season off on the right foot with a narrow victory at the gun.
Selection: Winnipeg Blue Bombers +3.5 at BetCanadian