The Winnipeg Blue Bombers go into Empire Field on Saturday night as 11/2-point underdogs.
The Bombers are 5-1.
The B.C. Lions are 1-5.
Bomber linebacker Marcellus Bowman has a hunch as to why the oddsmakers aren’t big Blue believers this weekend.
“It’s more that it’s the trap game theory,” Bowman said. “You’re coming off that big emotional win (over Edmonton), and then you’re kind of riding high. You might not be paying attention to detail, and then you get caught with the trap game.”
There’s that, and there’s also the theory that teams going into their bye weeks are already thinking about home. Players spent a lot of time this week worrying about how they’re getting home, and many of them will travel directly there from Vancouver on Sunday.
Since bye weeks were introduced in 2002, the Bombers are 5-8 in games before their mid-season breaks. Oddly enough, they are 2-0 when that contest is played in Vancouver.
Head coach Paul LaPolice has been hammering it into his players’ heads all week to not look past the Lions, and he doesn’t think they will. Nor is he surprised the Leos, who will have recently acquired slotback Arland Bruce in their lineup, are favoured to win on Saturday night.
“I said this before the start of the season, that I felt that this team could represent the West in the Grey Cup,” LaPolice said. “I thought they had a good defence, they had a good young quarterback and a running back who can run with the football and they’re playing at home.
“I don’t think too many people are reading into records around this league.”
Motivation shouldn’t be a problem for the Bombers, who beat the Lions 25-20 at Canad Inns Stadium two weeks ago when Alex Brink replaced an injured Buck Pierce in the fourth quarter and guided them to victory. Winnipeg has a chance to improve to 6-1 for the first time since 1984, and it also has an opportunity to post its first four-game winning streak since 2003.
Not only that, but the Blue and Gold can kick off the campaign with a 3-0 road record for the first time since 1982.
If nothing else, being the underdog while owning the league’s best record should be the only motivating factor a team needs.
“We’ve proved a lot on the field, that we’re a legit team,” Bowman said. “To have us being one-point underdogs, it’s bulletin board stuff. It’s just motivation for us.
“It’s a good thing, because whenever you feel you’re disrespected or you’re not getting what you feel like you deserve, there’s that extra bit of effort that you give to make sure that next time it doesn’t happen.”