Visiting Team: Hamilton Tiger-Cats (8-10) 3rd place in the CFL East
Home Team: Montreal Alouettes (9-9) 2nd place in the CFL East
Date and Time: Sunday, November 6th, 2022 at 1 pm EST
Location: Percival-Molson Memorial Stadium, Montreal, QC
Media Coverage: TV: ESPN 2, TSN
Radio: Sirius XM (137), TSN 690, Ticats Audio Network
Betting Line: Montreal Alouettes -1.5, O/U 48.5 points
After a long 2022 CFL regular season, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (8-10) and Montreal Alouettes (9-9), have both faced a long list of challenges to earn their opportunity to continue to accomplish their goal of winning the Grey Cup in 2022. Both the Tiger-Cats and Alouettes had a slow start to the 2022 season, and both teams were able to overcome those slow starts. The Tiger-Cats started the season with high hopes of making their 3rd consecutive appearance in the Grey Cup finals, but they had a series of games in which they had hot starts to games and finished with crushing errors leading to dramatic losses. The Alouettes came into the season with a balanced look on offence and defence, but they had a transition at quarterback and injuries at running back. In addition, the Alouettes made a change in the head coach position after firing HC Khari Jones.
Throughout the season Hamilton and Montreal have made adjustments concerning personnel and strategic decisions to overcome these slow starts. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats ended the regular season by winning 4 straight games and clinching their playoff spot as the 3rd place team in the East. In contrast, the Alouettes were able to clinch their playoff position but then stumbled to the finish line. The result of the efforts of both teams presents a playoff game between two teams that produce similar outcomes, but take very different ways to get to those outcomes. Let’s take a look at the key match-ups that will determine which team will get to advance to the CFL East finals.
Contrasting Quarterback Styles
The Montreal Alouettes started the season with what could have potentially been a quarterback controversy, but early in the season, Montreal decided to have Trevor Harris take the reins and lead the offence. Harris is an efficient field-general-style quarterback that has big-game experience, keeps a cool head, and finds ways to use his weapons effectively. Also, with running back William Stanback being available for Montreal, the Alouettes will have a formidable rushing attack that will force the Tiger-Cat defence to play balanced football. The weakness of Harris is that if a defence can pressure him and get him off-schedule then he tends to make mistakes.
The Tiger-Cats quarterback situation has been a collaborative effort utilizing Dane Evans, Matt Shiltz, and Jamie Newman. At different points in the season, these quarterbacks have shown the ability to create big plays but also turn the ball over. This results in a Tiger-Cats offence that could potentially explode and have a big game, or it could just as easily become a reminder of Hamilton’s habit of self-destructing in big games. It will be important for Hamilton to be able to run the ball effectively with Wes Hills and the offensive line must work well as a unit to protect their quarterback.
Steady and Efficient vs. Volatile and Explosive
The Montreal Alouette’s offence tends to be one of the most efficient units in the CFL when they can establish the running game and protect their quarterback. The Alouettes will need to be detailed in their approach, play within their game plan, and find ways to make the Tiger-Cats pay for their mistakes. The Tiger-Cats offence has a multitude of weapons with CFL All-Stars Tim White and Steven Dunbar Jr. leading the way. Both White and Dunbar Jr. bring the ability to produce big plays in multiple ways. The Tiger-Cats will need to walk the line between playing recklessly and producing big plays, but not cross that line and turnover the ball over and cost themselves scoring opportunities.
A Solid Defence
Both the Tiger-Cats and Alouettes have units on defence that will need to make plays to give their team a chance to get this win to advance in the playoffs. The Tiger-Cats defence will need to be led by defensive lineman Micah Johnson who has shown the ability to stop the run and pressure quarterbacks. Hamilton will have to accomplish both of these goals to contain the Alouettes offence. The Alouettes will also need to find ways to generate a pass rush to pressure the Tiger-Cats collaborative quarterback unit into turning the ball over. The ability to stop the run could be the determining factor in this game.
A Return to Glory
The special team’s units for Hamilton and Montreal have struggled at times, but as the season has gone progressed both teams have improved significantly. The returners for both teams, Chandler Worthy (Montreal) and Lawrence Woods III (Hamilton), will have opportunities to create big plays for their respective teams. Both teams have had successful kickers this season, but the game could be close enough that a missed kick could determine the outcome of this game. Also, with potentially wet weather conditions the special team’s units could have their share of challenges.
Successful teams in the CFL playoffs tend to be teams that are entering the post-season hot and healthy. Both teams are relatively healthy with their primary playmakers being available. The Tiger-Cats have won 4 straight games to earn their shot in the playoffs. The Alouettes won 7 out of 10 games to earn a home playoff game. The Alouettes are 5-4 at home in 2022, and the Tiger-Cats are 2-7 on the road. On paper, the Tiger-Cats and Alouettes are evenly matched. This game will come down to which team can produce big plays and avoid critical errors. In recent history, the Alouettes have struggled to win post-season games, and the Tiger-Cats have won East semi-finals games consistently. This will most likely be one of the most exciting games of the 2022 CFL playoffs.
My Prediction: Tiger-Cats 32 Alouettes 31
Follow me on Twitter: @AaronSauter7
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