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CFL: Montreal Alouettes (6-5) @ Toronto Argonauts (9-1) Week 14 Preview/Prediction

Back in Week 6 of the CFL season, after the Argonauts beat the Alouettes 35-27, Toronto head coach Ryan Dinwiddie said that his team’s win “felt like a loss.”

After the Argos committed 15 penalties against Montreal, Dinwiddie, whose team improved to 4-0 in July, had strong words for his championship team.

“Sloppy game. I mean, it feels like a loss,” “I thought it was a team win; guys battled and got in there, but some guys put themselves ahead of the team.”

A high standard has been set for the Boatmen under one of the CFL’s brightest leaders.

In Week 14, Toronto comes home to BMO Field on Saturday afternoon, looking to punch a ticket to the postseason for the third year in a row under Ryan Dinwiddie.

The defending Grey Cup champs also have a chance to ensure their third straight East Final game in the Six if they can take round two and subsequently three against Montreal next week.

For Montreal, their 6-5 tally puts them in a great position to make the postseason again. But their overall record has told two different tales.

Against the CFL’s top three teams: Toronto, Winnipeg, and B.C. Montreal is 0-5. Against the rest of the league, they are undefeated at 6-0.

The Alouettes’ attempts to fly high against the top teams have seen them have their wings clipped in mid-air.

The Als are in a great position to change the narrative and path of their season these next two games.

If Montreal can take down the Argos in Toronto and win the rematch at home the following week. Pulling that off will set the Alouettes up as a contender for the Eastern throne.

A lot can happen between now and the end of the CFL regular season. But these next two Als-Argos games could be a preview of the 2023 East Final. The results of the back-to-back battles between Eastern foes will likely determine where that game takes place.

CFL Week 14: Montreal Alouettes @ Toronto Argonauts, Saturday, September 9, BMO Field, 1 PM ET, TSN/CFL+

Point Spread: Argonauts favored by 10.5

Over/Under: 52.5

Weather Forecast: Sunny with increasing clouds during the afternoon. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible—High 21C. Winds ENE at 10 to 15 km/h.

CFL Week 14 Alouettes @ Argos Game Notes

  • Toronto won its first game against Montreal this year (35-27). Since 2019, each club has won four games (4-4). Seven of those eight games were decided in the last three minutes of play.
  • The last and only time Toronto started its schedule with a 10-1 record was in 1996 – a roster that included Doug Flutie, Michael “Pinball” Clemons, Robert Drummond, Paul Masotti, Mike O’Shea, Don Wilson and Mike Vanderjagt, among others.
  • Quarterback Chad Kelly has been involved in 25 (18 passing, seven rushing) of Toronto’s 35 offensive touchdowns in 2023.
  • Kelly hasn’t been sacked in his last four games. The Argos offensive line has allowed only seven sacks on Kelly.
  • Montreal receiver Austin Mack set a career-high with 143 yards on receptions last week; It was his fifth game of at least 100 yards on receptions of the season. He is just 29 yards short of 1000,1589 yards on receptions this year. Mack is on track to amass 2023 yards on receptions in 1530, which would break Matt Clark’s record for yards on receptions by a first-year player (1991 in <>).
  • Mack, Reggie Begelton (Calgary), and Shawn Bane Jr. (Saskatchewan) are tied for first place in the CFL in receptions with 60.
  • Former Argonauts quarterback Cody Fajardo has a 3-2 record in five career starts against his former team.

Montreal Alouettes Week 14 Depth Chart/Injury Report

Montreal will be without wide receivers Greg Ellingson (knee), Reggie White Jr. (knee), and Kaion Julien-Grant (hand) this week, along with all-star defensive back Wesley Sutton (head). In total, the Als have listed ten players on their report as out.

Toronto Argonauts Week 14 Depth Chart/Injury Report

The Argos are very banged up in their secondary. They lost Dashaun Amos two weeks ago to a knee injury. But players like Robertson Daniel and Jamal Peters are playing despite being banged up this week and limited in practice.

Punter John Hagerty is sitting this game out with a knee injury. The last two games he has suited up but only in a holder capacity. The Argos have opted to sit him out for this one.

Keys To An Alouettes Victory

Keep the Argos offensive attack off the field. The Alouettes can accomplish that goal by staying patient with their ground attack. And by using their run game to set up big pass plays through play action.

Montreal is coming off a nearly 200-yard rushing performance against the Lions.

In their first meeting with Toronto, the Als ran the ball well (88 yards, over four yards per rush), but turnovers in the passing game (2 interceptions) and struggles in pass protection (four sacks allowed) did them in. They also struggled on second down, only converting 43 percent.

Attacking Toronto’s banged-up secondary will undoubtedly be on the agenda. But ball control and high percentage second down situations will be the key to keeping Toronto’s balanced and explosive offensive attack at bay and off the field.

Defensively, getting Kelly down in the pocket is easier said than done. The breakout CFL star has made countless big plays with pressure in his face. Montreal must stay away from playing man coverage against Toronto—Test Chad’s patience.

The Alouettes pass rush must get home quickly and force Kelly to play with overconfidence in his throwing ability. He has made some mistakes in games trying to force passes into zones he shouldn’t.

On special teams, Hamilton played the keep-away game against Javon Leake a week ago. Mission accomplished. However, what it did was give Toronto great field position and short fields. Coordinator Byron Archambault might have to take a different tact. Directional kicking could be the play here. How the Als have prepared to deal with Mickey Donovan’s return game will be a deciding factor.

Keys To An Argonauts Victory

One of the keys to the Argos’ breakout offensive performance against Montreal two months ago was their up-tempo offence. They kept the Alouettes on their heels and guessing.

Toronto rushed for 156 yards with their two top rushers, AJ Ouellette and Andrew Harris, rushing for nearly 7 yards a pop.

In the passing game, Chad Kelly was 21 of 25 with 351 yards passing and three touchdowns. He wasn’t sacked once. If not for penalties, it was arguably the defending champs best overall performance on offence this season.

The temptation in round two with Montreal is to present an entirely different game plan. I think Toronto needs to stick to the script that worked last time out. Throw the curveball next week.

Defensively, the injuries in the Argonauts’ secondary could force them to play more conservatively. Disguising coverages and forcing Cody Fajardo to throw downfield after he feasted last time on short passes is imperative. The Argos pass rushers also need to win their one-on-ones upfront to make up for any deficiencies in the pass defence.

CFL Week 14: Alouettes-Argonauts Prediction

The oddsmakers have Toronto as an overwhelming home favorite. However, a short work week, with mounting injuries in the secondary, suggests that this game will be much closer than many expect.

Both teams have injury issues heading into Saturday afternoon. Montreal is also missing players for this pivotal contest.

Nevertheless, the Alouettes have had a full week to get ready for this game. And they will be highly motivated after playing Toronto tough in July.

Jason Maas’s team is playing with house money in Toronto—nothing to lose with everything to gain.

The Argonauts have shown a tendency in the last few weeks to run hot and cold in games. The ultra-talented Argos have difference-making players who can hit the on-switch if needed. But sooner or later, lapses during games will cost them.

I think Toronto is the better overall team. But this feels like a classic trap game that could be a letdown after Labour Day.

Prediction: Toronto Argonauts 31 Montreal Alouettes 27

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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