Visiting Team: Hamilton Tiger-Cats (3-6)
Home Team: Montreal Alouettes (3-6)
Game Location: Percival Molson Memorial Stadium, Montreal, Quebec
Date and Game Time: Saturday, August 20th at 4 pm EDT
TV Coverage: TSN, ESPN+
Betting Line: Montreal -3 O/U 48.5
This Week 11 matchup between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (3-6) and Montreal Alouettes (3-6) features two teams that have been in a week-to-week battle for 2nd place in the East division since the Tiger-Cats defeated the Alouettes at Tim Hortons Field in Week 8. The next week both teams lost and maintained their tie at 4 points in the standings, and then in Week 10 both teams won big games and remained tied at 6 points in the standings.
Montreal was able to upset the previously undefeated Winnipeg Blue Bombers at IG Field in overtime. Hamilton was able to overcome a large number of injuries offensively and defensively to win a home game against their rival the Toronto Argonauts. This week these teams will battle head-to-head to take control of 2nd place in the East standings, but in addition, if the Toronto Argonauts are unable to win at home against the Calgary Stampeders then the winner of this game will pull into a tie with Toronto for 1st place in the East division.
The Week 8 matchup between Montreal and Hamilton displayed the strengths and weaknesses of both of these teams. Montreal played efficiently on offence, struggled to get consistent stops on defence, and made big special teams plays to set their offence up with a short field. Hamilton started fast offensively, and made big plays defensively, but had multiple breakdowns in their special teams to keep Montreal in the game.
That game ended with a controversial finish with Montreal driving deep into Tiger-Cats to steal a win, but after a big hit by the Hamilton defence on Alouettes quarterback Trevor Harris, Harris was removed from the game by the CFL for an injury review. That left the Alouettes attempting a final play with backup quarterback Dominique Davis and the Tiger-Cats Jovan Santos-Knox intercepted that pass to clinch the home win.
Coming into this week you could expect to see a similar matchup. But in the CFL injuries are a significant part of every game, and this game is no different. A catalyst for the Tiger-Cat’s return to fundamentally sound football and efficient offence last week was a large number of injuries within their wide receiving unit and starting quarterback Dane Evans.
The result was Hamilton’s offence relying on their running game and efficient passing with contributions by Matt Shiltz and Jamie Newman. The ability to run the ball could be a difference maker this week against Montreal, the Alouettes have struggled to stop the run. Both teams have had high-quality play in their defensive secondaries so the ability to run the ball effectively could be a determining factor in this game.
Especially when you consider that the Tiger-Cats defence produced five quarterback sacks in their first matchup. The offence that can execute efficiently will lead their team to victory in Montreal on Saturday night.
The Alouettes have consistently had one of the best offensive units in the CFL despite Vernon Adams Jr. being injured, and the firing of head coach Khari Jones. The efficient play by Trevor Harris and his ability to utilize his weapons has allowed them to compete with the best teams in the CFL. Montreal will need to be able to run the ball to control the pace of this game.
The run defence of Montreal has struggled this season, but their defensive secondary has played well and has been consistent. The Alouettes will need to produce explosive plays on offence and special teams, and play a sound game on defence.
Hamilton comes into another week dealing with significant injury issues. The Tiger-Cats will be missing LB Simoni Lawrence with a knee injury, and quarterback Dane Evan is questionable with an injury to his throwing shoulder. Many of the Tiger-Cats receivers will be returning to the lineup this week. But what the Tiger-Cats should have learned last week is that an effective running game sets up explosive plays.
Offensively, the Tiger-Cats need to find creative ways to score, and the defence needs to limit their mistakes. The deciding factor in this game will be the Tiger-Cats special teams. In Week 8 the Hamilton punting unit gave up field position multiple times allowing the Alouettes offence to play with a short field. In Week 11 the Tiger-Cats special teams need to execute at a high level.
Follow me on Twitter: @AaronSauter7
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