The Montreal Alouettes will host the Toronto Argonauts Friday night. The Alouettes are back at home after a 19-35 loss to the BC Lions
Montreal Alouettes (2-1): The Alouettes opened the season with 2 wins against divisional opponents in Ottawa and Hamilton. They have since lost to Winnipeg at home 17-3 and to BC on the road 19-35.
Toronto Argonauts (3-0): The Argonauts had an impressive win in week 4 against the BC Lions winning 45-24 before going on the bye for week 5. The Argonauts have also beaten Hamilton and Edmonton.
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Date/Location: Friday, July 14 /Percival Molson Memorial Stadium, Montreal, QC
Kickoff Time: 7:30 PM ET, 4:30 PM PT
Channel: TSN (Canada), CFL+(USA, International)
Spread: Montreal +5.5 (-110), Toronto -5.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Montreal +190, Toronto -230
Over/Under: 47.5 (Over -120, Under +100)
Is Toronto as Good as Their Record?
Looking at Toronto’s 3 wins this season they may not be as proven this season as their 3-0 record would indicate. Toronto’s first win over Hamilton saw Hamilton’s starting quarterback, Bo Levi Mitchell, leave the game with an injury late in the first half. In Toronto’s second win against Edmonton, Edmonton arguably beat themselves as they took Taylor Cornelius out of the game after 1 half despite General Cornelius putting together a good game at that point. After that point, Edmonton’s offense lost all continuity.
Toronto played very well in their win over. Vernon Adams Jr. made many poor decisions in that game and threw 6 interceptions which Toronto scored 34 points off of. There was a pick 6, 2 field goals, and 3 offensive touchdowns scored following these interceptions 2 of which Toronto began drives with extremely good field position.
In the wins against Edmonton and BC both of Toronto’s opponents ran the ball 10 times or less failing to establish the run and provide run support to their quarterbacks.
Toronto has played very well so far this season and the 2022 Grey Cup Champions deserve all the credit they are getting. At times though it has seemed that Toronto’s opponents have contributed to their own losses.
Montreal Alouettes vs Toronto Argonauts
Montreal needs to pick up a win to end a 2 game-losing streak and stay above .500. Toronto and Montreal last played each other in the Eastern Final last season which Toronto won 34 to 27.
The Invading Argonauts
Both teams have new quarterbacks leading their teams this season. Toronto’s Chad Kelly has been a rising star as he has been 3-0 as a starter this season. His only loss as a starter was to Montreal in week 21 last season when teams were playing many of their backups. Toronto’s Week 4 win over BC was Kelly’s first game of the season in which he had a passing touchdown and 0 interceptions. It was an extremely impressive game for Chad Kelly completed 29 of his 23 passes (79%) and 1 touchdown against a BC Lions defense that held Jake Maier, Taylor Cornelius, and Zach Collaros to under 200 passing yards. Toronto has also done a great job of establishing the run and pounding the rock with great run support from A.J. Oullette and Andrew Harris.
The Argonaut’s defense has limited teams to just 57.7 rushing yards a game which is the lowest in the league. Toronto has allowed 856 total passing yards, 285 per game. The Argonauts defense has 13 takeaways and those turnovers have resulted in 65 of the 120 total points.
The Bird’s Nest
Montreal may be uniquely suited to give the Argonauts the first loss of their season. Cody Fajardo has been very good as Montreal’s new quarterback and is the only quarterback in the league to have only 1 interception to have started more than 1 game. Fajardo’s 1,120 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 67% completion rate have him 2nd in the league in QBR. Fajardo also has the most rushing yards among quarterbacks with 123 and 3 touchdowns. His 2 touchdown passes over 4 games are going to need to be better moving forward for Montreal to be a Grey Cup contender.
Montreal’s run game has been less productive than what many were expecting coming into the season. William Stanback has 39 carries in 4 games for 171 yards (4.4 yards per carry). This is significantly less than the last full season Stanback was healthy when he was a CFL All-Star and had 6 yards per carry in 2021. Montreal has allowed 25 sacks in just 4 games and the struggles of the offensive line definitely affect the run game. Regardless I would like to see Montreal commit to the run more and attempt more run plays to help get it established which aids in opening the passing game. They have been one of the least running teams the past couple weeks which has been a commonality among losing teams.
Prior to Montreal’s loss to BC, the Alouettes had the lowest points allowed per game at just 13.6. Despite coming off a loss on the road in BC in which Montreal allowed 35 points against them, the Alouettes’ defense has been pretty good this season. In the first minute of the game, Marc-Antoine Duequoy had a pick 6 that was taken away by a controversial penalty call that changed the landscape of the game. TSN’s broadcast crew described the contact as “minimal”. BC went on to score a touchdown on that drive.
Montreal had 3 players named to the Pro Football Focus Week 5 Team of the Week. LB Avery Williams, HB Dionte Ruffin, and S Marc-Antoine Duequoy.
Montreal Players to Watch:
#31 William Stanback, RB
Montreal needs to hand him the ball this week and establish the run. Stanback has the potential to take over a game.
#81 Austin Mack, WR
The rookie out of Ohio State has been excellent. He currently leads the CFL in receiving yards with 388 on 23 receptions. He also has 2 touchdowns.
#11 Kaion Julien-Grant, WR
Julien-Grant is now 3rd in the CFL in receiving yards with 351 on 20 receptions.
#11 Quartney Davis, WR
The Texas A&M Product made his first CFL start last week. Last week he caught 2 of his 6 targets for 50 yards. One of which he went up over a defender and won a contested ball just as he did multiple times in the preseason and playing for Texas A&M. Davis had the third most receptions of anyone in the preseason.
#11 Tyler Snead, WR
Tyler Snead also made his first CFL start last week. In college, he played for East Carolina where he scored 18 receiving touchdowns, 2 kick return touchdowns, a rushing touchdown, 2 kick return touchdowns, and 3 passing touchdowns. Last week he caught 4 of his 5 targets for 61 yards 37 of which were YAC. His longest reception was 44 yards in which he showed his high speed racing downfield after the reception.
#94 Mustafa Johnson, DT
Leads the team in sacks with 3. His ability to cause chaos at the line is not talked about enough and he is a real headache for the offensive line.
#12 Najee Murray, DB
Leads the team in tackles with 21. Also has an interception and a forced fumble. Murray has played as a linebacker and defensive back this season and is highly versatile.
#10 Nick Usher, DE
Usher had his first sack of the season last week against Winnipeg. Montreal will need a big day from him.
#26 Tyrice Beverette, LB
2nd in tackles on the team with 17, and also has 1 sack.
#26 Avery Williams, LB
Has 14 tackles in 3 games which is tied for the most per game on the team. He has played as middle linebacker and has been excellent at covering large areas of the field and closing in on opposing players.
#26 Marc-Antoine Duequoy, S
Had a pick 6 last week that was taken off the board due to a penalty. Also had 5 tackles, a knockdown, and a fumble recovery. Was named to PFF’s Week 5 Team of the Week.
Montreal Alouettes Injury Report/Game Status:
Ciante Evans is back in the lineup after missing last week’s game due to injury. Evans will line up at halfback. Dionte Ruffin will be moving to cornerback after playing halfback last week. Kordell Rodgers who played cornerback last week is moved back to the practice roster with the return of Evans.
Everything else is the same positioning as it was last week against BC.
A big factor in Toronto’s wins this season has been winning the turnover battle. No quarterback has done a better job from an interceptions standpoint than Cody Fajardo. Fajardo prior to week 5 had a tendency to throw the ball almost exclusively to Austin Mack and Kaion Julien-Grant. Last week he did a good job spreading the ball around to other receivers as well which makes the offense less predictable. Montreal has still been predictable in their tendency to not run the ball which makes it easier to defend the pass.
I predict the Montreal offense to be good in the turnover battle. The lack of good field position for Toronto will give the Montreal defense to stifle the Argonauts’ offense. Montreal has to know that they must do better at establishing the run and I predict Stanback to have 12+ carries and 60+ yards.
I predict Montreal to win this game 30-27.
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My Twitter: @JonathanClink
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