Perfect Bowl II – the CFL season delivers again
It’s time for ‘Perfect Bowl II’ as the Calgary Stampeders and Winnipeg Blue Bombers meet in week 6 of the CFL season. That is because ‘Perfect Bowl I’ was just last week as the then 4-0 Blue Bombers went into Vancouver and defeated the previously unbeaten BC Lions 43-22.
The West Division now has a 12-1 record against the East. And within the West we can see certain teams rising to the top. The most dominant teams currently are the last remaining unbeaten teams. The two time defending champion Blue Bombers have made a statement start in their search for a threepeat bolting to 5-0 out of the gate. Meanwhile Calgary sit right behind them in the table at 4-0.
Both teams are coming off impressive wins where they looked good in all the facets of the game. Whilst Winnipeg were defeating the Lions in BC, the Stampeders were steamrollering the Elks 49-6 in Edmonton.
Perfect Bowl matchup
So how do the Stamps and Blue Bombers match up to each other? These two super consistent teams have made a great start. Let’s take a closer look.
This will be the second best ‘Perfect Bowl’ ever. By which I mean that the combined 9-0 record of both teams has only ever been bettered back in 1961 when Hamilton (4-0) and Edmonton (7-0) had a combined 11-0 start between them.
Winnipeg are 4-2 against Calgary in their last six meetings. All four of those wins have come at home. And this game is being played in Winnipeg. A place where Zach Collaros has led the Blue Bombers to a 10-0 record over the last 10 games he has started there.
If Calgary fans are looking for a glimmer of hope here then the Stampeders are 5-3 when Bo Levi Mitchell squares off against Zach Collaros at QB.
Calgary are averaging more average yards per game, more rushing yards per game and more passing yards per game than Winnipeg. But then, BC were ahead on lots of statistics and Winnipeg blew them away last week.
Just a little perspective on how big this game could be – in four of the past five seasons, either the Stampeders or Blue Bombers have won the West Division. Not to mention winning the last three Grey Cups between them.
Last time the Blue Bombers started 5-0 they won the Grey Cup. Whilst last time Calgary started 5-0 they won the Grey Cup. Being fast starters has led to success. Both teams will want to replicate that.
A look at the quarterbacks
The Blue Bombers have Zach Collaros. The reigning MOP. The former Cincinnati Bearcat has only tasted defeat twice at the helm in Winnipeg since arriving in 2019. In that time he has led the team to two Grey Cup wins. The first consecutive Grey Cup championships in Winnipeg since 1961-62.
This season he has gone 102 of 141 (72%) for 1,221 yards and 7 touchdowns. In last week’s win over BC he really showed his class. The numbers read 23 of 30 for 288 yards and 3 touchdowns. Impressive enough. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. The way he kept plays alive, saw the field and spread his passing was a thing of beauty. His savvy veteran leadership continues to add an X factor for the Blue Bombers in their chase for a threepeat and further championship success.
Collaros needs just 210 passing yards to pass John Hufnagel for 31ston the all-time list
In the red corner is Bo Levi Mitchell. So far this season he has gone 87 of 126 (69%) for 1,112 yards and 6 touchdowns. He is a 10 year veteran with the Stamps who has seen it all before.
The league MOP in 2016 and 2018, was the Grey Cup MVP for both the wins he has led Calgary to (2014, 2018). However, having missed games in 2019 and 2021 he did start talking about long term plans and whether retirement was on the horizon. So far this season he has started each game however and led a dynamic Stamps team to a average of 35 points a game.
Mitchell has thrown at least one TD in all four starts this year and last week, recorded a passer rating of 149.6 – his highest rating in four years. Oh and let’s not forget, Bo has the highest winning percentage of any QB in CFL history at .795 (88-22-2).
At the other end of the scale are the struggling Ottawa REDBLACKS (0-4) & the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (0-4). Both teams have had a difficult start to the season, and will be looking for their first win to act as a launchpad for their season.
Last time Hamilton started a season 0-4 it went all the way to 0-8 (in 2017). No Tiger-Cats fan is going to want to see that kind of start again. Hamilton changed coach that year and ended up 6-12 and out of the playoffs.
The last time an Ottawa football team lost their first 4 games it was the Ottawa Roughriders back in 1991! They would win the next week and finish that season 7-11 before losing in the Eastern Semi-Final.
What neither teams wants is for this to snowball. Both franchises are in the 16+ losers club, and neither ever wants to go there again.
As ever, for both games, it will be fun seeing how it all plays out on the field! Buckle up for a weekend of fun starting with Winnipeg/Calgary as the Friday night game.
Banner Image: Janarion Grant returns a kick for Winnipeg. Image from pattitherivercityrenegade