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CFL Week 12: Toronto Argonauts @ Montreal Alouettes Preview/Prediction

In Week 12, It’s Deja Vu for the Double Blue, as the Toronto Argonauts are back on the road facing a division rival with first place in the East at stake. The same scenario that the Argos faced the last time they played, except this time, the team standing in their way is the Montreal Alouettes.

Both the Argos and Als are on season-long three-game win streaks. Toronto’s current streak started when they defeated Montreal at home 30-27 back in week 8. The Alouettes win streak started after that loss to the Boatmen.

Week 12: Toronto Argonauts (6-3) @ Montreal Alouettes (5-4) Preview

A victory by the Boatmen on Friday Night at Molson Stadium will render the East as a Fait accompli for them. It would give Toronto a two-game lead and a season sweep over Montreal head to head with only four weeks remaining in the regular season.

However, an Als’ victory at home over the Argonauts would leave both teams tied at the top of the division., the CFL’s sportsbook, has Toronto as 1 point road favorites. The over/under in the game is 49.5. The game will air Friday at 7:30 pm ET on TSN and ESPN+.

Toronto Argonauts Week 12 Depth Chart/Injury Report

On offence, the Argos are getting back starting running back John White. However, DJ Foster is penciled in as the team’s starter at tailback.

The big news is that Toronto will be without starting RT Jamal Campbell. Trevon Tate makes the surprise start for Toronto on the right side. Shane Richards will remain in the interior at right guard in place of the injured Dariusz Bladek. Theren Churchill and Dylan Giffen will act as the team’s depth behind Tate and Richards.

Jamal Campbell has unfortunately been placed on Toronto’s six-game injured list due to a calf injury.

SB Ricky Collins is suiting up, despite being limited all week in practice. WR Eric Rogers remains on the injured list for the Boatmen.

An intriguing development is that the Argos are dressing three quarterbacks in this game. Nick Arbuckle and Antonio Pipkin will back up McLeod Bethel-Thompson on the pivot. The last time Toronto faced Montreal, Pipkin was a part of the team’s game plan. The former Alouette could see a similar role in this contest. For what it’s worth, Arbuckle is listed as the team’s third quarterback.

On defence, Henoc Muamba returns to middle linebacker. DE Charleston Hughes is back starting at DE, opposite Robbie Smith. Kony Ealy, Cordarro Law, and Shane Ray will not be active for this game.

In a shocking twist, Jamal Peters is out on the 1-game injured list, and he is being replaced on the boundary by Jalen Collins. The former NFL and XFL defensive back has been with the Argos for a few weeks but is getting the starting nod in a pivotal game.

Montreal Alouettes Week 12 Depth Chart/Injury Report

Montreal has been relatively healthy all season. Except for the recent Vernon Adams injury. However, the Als will be without WR BJ Cunningham; he was placed on the six-game injured list. Reggie White Jr. and Kaion Julien-Grant will be expected to help replace him at receiver.

William Stanback is back this week, starting at running back. Cameron Artis-Payne is out for one game due to illness.

As expected, Trevor Harris will not be suiting up at quarterback for Montreal. Shea Patterson will once again backup Alouettes starter Matt Shiltz.

Argonauts-Alouettes Matchups

Toronto’s Offence Versus Montreal’s Defence

The last time these two teams met. McLeod Bethel-Thompson took over the starting reins on the pivot for Toronto, in place of the injured Nick Arbuckle, and was 13/19, throwing for 210 pass yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions.

McLeod Bethel-Thompson was hit several times in the game and was banged up with a knee injury, but he was only sacked once. It’s notable because the Alouettes’ defence leads the CFL by a wide margin with 35 sacks in nine games. Fifteen of those sacks came in back-to-back games against Ottawa, ten last weekend. But, all season long, Montreal’s pass rush, particularly at home, has caused problems for opposing teams.

With the Argos missing two of their best starting offensive linemen in RT, Jamal Campbell, and G Dariusz Bladek. This is a clear area of concern for Toronto heading into this game. In particular, Shane Richards and Theren Churchill will be tested by the crowd noise and Montreal’s talented outside rushers.

The numbers have been skewed based on their opponent the last two weeks because earlier in the season. Montreal’s defence was susceptible to big plays in the passing game. In order for Toronto to connect down the field as they did with Chandler Worthy in week eight against the Als. The Argos offensive line will need to give Bethel-Thompson time to throw the football. Getting John White back in pass protection as a last line of defense will help, but Toronto upfront needs to step up to the challenge.

Montreal’s run defence allows the most yard per rush in the CFL (5.3). A returning John White and DJ Foster can help slow down the Als’ pass rush by shortening the distance to gain on second downs. Staying away from second and long will be a key in this game for the Boatmen’s offensive attack.

Toronto’s Defence Versus Montreal’s Offence

Montreal is first in the CFL in rushing. They average 146.3 yards per game. Winnipeg is a distant second at 113. The Alouettes also lead the league with 5.8 yards per rush.

In their last meeting with the Argonauts. Montreal rushed for 178 yards on the ground. One hundred thirty-three of those belonged to William Stanback, who is returning for this crucial east division showdown. However, Vernon Adams, who was a big part of Montreal’s rushing attack, is out. And Henoc Muamba, who missed the first meeting with his former team, returns to solidify the middle of the Argos defence.

The most significant key for Toronto in this game is slowing down Montreal’s rushing attack and pressuring Matthew Shiltz into mistakes. Thus far, Shiltz has impressed with his ability to make some plays with his legs, but mostly with his decision-making. Chris Jones and the Boatmen’s defensive staff need to devise plays to bait Shiltz into poor throws.

One of the players who has to come through for Toronto in a prominent spot like this is Charleston Hughes. He has not been the impact player he was two years ago when he led the CFL in sacks. He has only two on the season and has missed the last two games for Toronto. The Boatmen need him down the stretch to make an impact.

Montreal has one of the more underrated all-around receiving corps in the CFL. Eugene Lewis, BJ Cunningham, and Quan Bray can start on any team in the league. But Jake Wieneke is the player that has stood out the most in this group. Wieneke has broken out and is having an All-Star campaign. He has 44 catches for 705 yards and eight touchdowns in nine games. By comparison, In 2019, Wieneke had 41 receptions for 569 yards and eight touchdowns in 18 games.

The last time, Montreal squared off with Toronto. Both Eugene Lewis and Jake Wieneke each had over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown. Lewis and Wieneke are big-bodied receivers with length, and they gave the Argos defensive backs problems with their physicality. There’s no doubt that CFL rookie Jalen Collins will be tested in his first game ever in the league. Collins has the size to match up, but this could be a baptism by fire situation for the pro-veteran.

The Argos D gave up 560 yards to Montreal’s offence the last time they played. The likelihood of doing that again and still winning the game is not very strong. Toronto’s coaching staff has to have a better game plan than they did the first time.

Argos-Alouttes Special Teams Matchups

Argos kicker/punter and Thanksgiving Day hero Boris Bede is looking forward to this matchup with his former team. In Week 8 back in Toronto, when Bede extended the Boatmen’s lead to 30-20 with a field goal late in the fourth quarter. He made a point to gesture to Montreal’s bench when he did it. Bede wasn’t happy that the Als traded him away, and he made sure to show them that on the field by making three big kicks in the final frame of that game.

Neither team has been particularly spectacular in the return game this season. Toronto has improved somewhat thanks to Chandler Worthy. Montreal has missed the dynamic Mario Alford since he went down to injury in mid-season.

All season long, Toronto’s weak spot has been their special team’s coverage and blocking units. But Mark Nelson’s group is coming off of one of their better performances against Hamilton. They can afford to have a relapse in what figures to be a closely contested game.

Toronto Argonauts-Montreal Alouettes Prediction

It’s always difficult in football to beat a team the second time around, especially if it’s on their field. Toronto is going to get Montreal’s best on Friday night. This is a do-or-die game for them. They realize that the East division hangs in the balance and that a loss will effectively kill their hopes of finishing in first.

In theory, the extra time to prepare for this game favors the Argos. But it’s contingent on two different factors—the coaching staff’s ability to have the proper game plan in their rematch against Montreal. And in the players being focused and mentally prepared for the task at hand.

Toronto can’t afford to come into this game resting on their laurels. How the entire team responds to their recent success will be very telling. This season, the Argos have had a bad habit of going through lulls during games or getting off to bad starts. You are playing with fire if you do that consistently on the road. To truly turn the corner and become a consistent winner. The Argonauts have to overcome that negative pattern.

The last time Toronto won in Montreal was on October 12th, 2015; ironically enough, newly acquired Als’ quarterback Trevor Harris was on the pivot for the Boatmen six years ago. Henoc Muamba was on the other side, picking him off.

I genuinely believe that this game can go either way. But I think Toronto will find a way to edge out Montreal in a close one.

Prediction: Toronto Argonauts 25 Montreal Alouettes 23

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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