It's win, win for Esks

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:13 AM ET

EDMONTON -- The CFL is sponsored by Bowmans.com, but few who play or coach in the league want to acknowledge what the Internet gambling site does.

When Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Tee Martin was asked about the point spread for tonight's game at Commonwealth Stadium against the Edmonton Eskimos, he quickly stopped the question.

"I don't want to know," he said.

So the pivot, who will make his third career start in place of the injured Kevin Glenn, will be oblivious to the fact that his 0-3 team is a whopping 19 1/2-point underdog going into tonight's clash with the 2-1 Eskimos (8 p.m., TSN/CJOB).

Meanwhile, rookie Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia got downright perturbed yesterday when asked about his team's projected margin of victory.

"I'm very sensitive when people bring up lines," Maciocia snapped after the point spread was brought up a second time during his pre-game press conference. "I'm not into lines."

The first time the subject was broached, Maciocia proceeded to prop up the Bombers. The way in which he went on and on and on, you'd figure the Bombers were the three-touchdown favourite tonight.

'BOMBERS ARE A PRETTY GOOD TEAM'

"The Winnipeg Blue Bombers -- this may come as a surprise to a few -- are a pretty good football team," Maciocia said. "When you take a look at their front four, it's probably as good as you're going to find in the CFL. They've got one of the best tailbacks in the CFL (in Charles Roberts). He had a breakout game last week.

"They made some changes up front with their offensive line, so chances are they think that they're going to be able to establish the line of scrimmage.

"Their quarterback is only going to get better. Milt Stegall is back. Their secondary has been playing as well as any secondary the last week or two. And they're coached defensively by my mentor, Rod Rust, so we're gonna have our hands full. And take a look at their return game with (Keith) Stokes and (Wane) McGarity.

"So this is not going to be one of those deals where you just walk in and you're going to be able to walk out with two points."

Neither side may want to admit it -- or, in Martin's case, hear it -- but tonight's CFL contest is a mismatch of monumental proportions.

The Eskimos dumped the Bombers 27-8 two weeks ago in Winnipeg, and they lead the league in points and passing yards. Their defence also tops the CFL with fewest points allowed, fewest passing yards surrendered and most sacks.

The Bombers? Well, the Bombers are fourth in the league in fewest penalties and fewest interceptions thrown. Other than that, they're ranked seventh, eighth or ninth in 15 of 17 other categories.

When the teams met two weeks ago, Eskimos quarterback Ricky Ray threw for 469 yards and two touchdowns -- one of which was a 105-yard catch-and-run by Jason Tucker.

The Bombers allowed Ray to complete passes underneath their coverage all night, but they did a good job of keeping the Esks under wraps when they got to the red zone.

Martin, meanwhile, will be looked upon to get something -- anything -- going. He said the offence didn't put a lot of balls on the ground during practice this week.

"That's very encouraging, just from knowing that they're thinking like I'm thinking as a receiving corps, and up front they're feeling what I'm feeling in the pocket," Martin said. "That calls for success."

Success might be hard to come by tonight, and Ray's two cents about the point spread said it all.

"Sometimes you'll win by a lot, sometimes you'll win by a little," he said.

You'll notice he didn't say "lose."


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