Andy McNamara and Carlan Gay of 3rd and Long have tallied up the most important stats for this weekend's 99TH Grey Cup in Vancouver. We've averaged out key statistical categories of the head-to-head battles during the regular season between Winnipeg Blue Bombers and B.C. Lions to breakdown Sunday's championship battle.
Travis Lulay - B.C. Lions
Passing yards: 149
This is a much different looking B.C. Lions club from the last time the Blue Bombers defeated them back in Week 7. Fresh off of a much-deserved Most Outstanding Player award, Lulay appears unstoppable. The young quarterback's passing average of 149 yards versus Winnipeg in 2011 is a distant memory and it seems hard to think of anything less than a 300-yard performance being tossed by Mr. Lulay. The future in the CFL is firmly stamped with an orange and black No. 14. Definitely take the over.
Terrance Edwards - Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Total catches: 2.5
Edwards is quick, aggressive, and can break open field tackles, but can he do that against the stingy Lions' defence? Quarterback Buck Pierce will need to spread the ball around and look for quick outlet passes to avoid the defensive surge, and Edwards can certainly step up in big-game situations. However, the slotback from Georgia will be smothered by the underrated B.C. secondary, as will all Winnipeg receivers, and will ultimately fall below his 2.5 season average catches against the Western champions. The Blue Bombers best chance is to stick with the plan that got them to this dance, and that is the running game. More Chris Garrett touches means less balls through the air for the blue and gold.
B.C. Lions - Defence
It has been well documented that Pierce has been hit hard and often throughout the 2011 campaign. The phrase "down goes Pierce!" has been expressed numerous times during our 3rd and Long shows this year. Winnipeg needs to find away to keep Pierce upright and mobile. Aaron Hunt and Solomon Elimimian are the two driving forces for this Lions' defence that will be targeting the injury prone Pierce from the opening kickoff. This dynamic duo has combined for 20 tackles and three sacks, along with forcing numerous rushed passes. In front of a riled up home crowd, look for the most dangerous 'D' in the CFL to break through Winnipeg's line and top 3.5 sacks.
Buck Pierce - Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Passing Yards: 221.5
Pierce isn't the most dominant quarterback in the Canadian Football League. He wasn't named the CFL's Most Outstanding Player, nor was he in the conversation. All eyes on Sunday night will be on the man Pierce will be going up against, Travis Lulay. The B.C. pivot is expected to put up impressive numbers, but Pierce? Not so much. All he has to do is move the chains and keep the high octane Lions offence off the field. That being said, Pierce will surprise many with his performance under pressure in the Grey Cup game. A big chance for him to show that old girl friend of his (B.C. Lions) that they made the wrong choice in letting him go.
Tim Brown - B.C. Lions
Rushing yards: 42.5
Lulay gets a lot of the credit for the great turnaround in Vancouver. However, play calling had a lot to do with the CFL's Most Outstanding Player's success. The Lions' offence doesn't run the ball as frequently as a smash-mouth club, but they do run it enough to keep opposing defences honest. Brown will try to keep the tough "swaggerville" defence honest by finding holes and hitting them. He will also be featured in the screen game to try and slow down the Bombers' pass rush. Brown doesn't have to rush for over 42.5 yards on Sunday for the Lions to win, but he will have to constantly see touches out of the back field to take some of the pressure off his young stud quarterback.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers - Defence
If the Blue Bombers are to pull off the upset Sunday night it will be because of their defence - a unit that has been amongst the best in most statistical categories all year long. In the two previous matchups against B.C. this season, the "swaggerville" bunch has made Lulay's life miserable. The mayor of "swaggerville," O'Dell Wills, and company were able to pressure and knock Lulay down leading to the Bombers' season-sweep over the Lions. Everyone's argument will be that this is not the same Lulay the Bombers saw earlier this year, but it is for the most part the same offensive line. It will be interesting to see who takes over on the line of scrimmage, especially since B.C. went out and got Ben Archibald in the off-season for games like this.
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