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CFL Week 6: Toronto Argonauts (3-0) @ Montreal Alouettes (2-2) Preview/Prediction

The undefeated Toronto Argonauts are off to a great start in defence of their CFL title. Still, they are about to embark upon a challenging month-long road stretch, with their first stop being a divisional clash with the Alouettes in Montreal on Friday night.

CFL Week 6 Preview: Toronto Argonauts (3-0) vs. Montreal Alouettes (2-2), Friday, July 14, 7:30 pm ET, Molson Stadium, TSN, RDS, CBS Sports Network (U.S.), and CFL+ (international)

Point Spread: The Toronto Argonauts are 5.5-point road favorites. Over/Under: 48

Projected Weather Forecast: Partly cloudy skies. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. Low 25°C

Toronto Argonauts-Montreal Alouettes Week 6 Injury Report

For Toronto, linebacker Jordan Williams (knee), defensive back Eric Sutton (knee), and offensive lineman Isiah Cage (thigh) didn’t practice all week and are out for Friday’s game. Middle linebacker Jordan Williams, who is missing his second straight game, will again be replaced by emerging star Jonathan Jones. Trevon Tate is back at left tackle, making his second straight start in place of Isiah Cage.

Montreals operating on a short week, has taken a minimalist approach this week in practice. The Alouettes chose not to practice on Monday and Tuesday before finally getting in a session on Wednesday. The team is coming off a west coast trip, and head coach Jason Maas wanted to get his players some much-needed recovery time.

Defensive back Ciante Evans, who has been nursing a leg injury, returned to practice this week and will be available for the game.

Toronto Argonauts Week 6 Depth Chart

With guard, Dylan Giffen listed as a game-time decision. Darius Ciraco returns to the starting lineup in the middle while Peter Nicastro slides over to right guard. The Argos’ starting alignment on the interior from their opening game.

CFL rookie CB Qwan’Tez Stiggers is in the starting lineup, with Tarvarus McFadden listed as the designated American. Robert Priester will miss another game but is healthy enough to be listed on the team’s practice roster.

Montreal Alouettes Week 6 Depth Chart

Argonauts-Alouettes Game Notes (Courtesy of CFLPR)

  • Friday’s clash between Toronto and Montreal is a rematch of last year’s East final.
  • The Argonauts posted a 3-0 record for the first time since 1991. Their last 4-0 record was in 1983. Both teams finished the regular season atop the East Division and won the Grey Cup.
  • Toronto concedes the fewest yards on the ground on average per game (57.7) and the fewest yards on average per carry (3.6). They also rank first in the league, conceding just one touchdown this season.
  • The Argonauts have a plus-9 differential in turnovers (four committed versus 13 caused). These 13 turnovers have led to 65 of their 120 points scored so far this year (54%).
  • Quarterback Chad Kelly guided Toronto on 42 offensive series, 11 of which ended with a touchdown (26.2%).
  • Kelly has a 3-1 record as a starter. His lone setback came in Week 21 last season against Montreal in a game where both teams sat most of their starting players.
  • Last year, the Argonauts won their three-game series 2-1 against the Alouettes.
  • Since Ryan Dinwiddie became their head coach, Toronto has a 5-2 record following a week off, including a four-game winning streak.

Keys To The Game For Montreal

The Alouettes need to slow down the Argonauts’ ultra-aggressive blitzing defence by leaning on their ground attack and creating favorable second-down situations.

Pro Football Focus got some criticism this week for grading the Alouettes’ offensive line so highly, considering that they are on pace to allow nearly a hundred sacks this season. Montreal has allowed 22 sacks in 2023.

But the strength of Montreal’s line is their run blocking, an area that the team hasn’t capitalized on enough.

Toronto defensive coordinator Corey Mace and his unit have been confusing opposing team’s offensive lines and their quarterbacks by disguising coverages and blitzes.

The short work week for the Als could play against Jason Maas and quarterback Cody Fajardo in this matchup. Simplifying this week’s game plan by emphasizing the run with Argo killer William Stanback could be a smart and necessary tact against Toronto.

Short passes and designed blitz beaters will help. But forcing Toronto to commit to stopping the run would help ease the burden on Montreal upfront.

Defensively, Montreal has to find a way to force Chad Kelly into mistakes. Getting an early lead and forcing the Argos to play from behind on the road would be the optimal situation for the Als. Kelly has made a few mistakes but has largely played within himself. However, he hasn’t been put in a situation yet where he has had to throw on every down. Disrupting the Argonauts’ efficient rushing attack could force Kelly into making tougher throws into coverage.

Keys To The Game For Toronto

Getting an early lead against Montreal and dictating the pace of play will be important for Toronto. The Alouettes offence has had periods of inconsistency in each one of their games this season. Particuarly in their last two games against Winnipeg and B.C.

The Als produced only three points against the Bombers at home. Albeit, thanks to some poor weather conditions and untimely mistakes. And last week against the Lions, Montreal moved the ball well at times, but in comeback mode, their pass protection fell apart. A reoccurring theme for the Alouettes this season.

Toronto is going to bring the heat defensively; it’s become a huge part of their DNA defensively. Getting the Alouettes in unfavorable pass-downs will be a victory for the Argos. The matchup of Toronto’s pass rush versus Montreal’s pass protection clearly favors the defending CFL champs.

Offensively, the Argos need to play error-free football. There’s no doubt that Toronto’s confidence is sky-high this season. But that aura of invincibility can work against you. The Boatmen, particularly Chad Kelly, have to avoid miscues that could give Montreal momentum at home.

CFL Week 6: Toronto Argonauts @ Montreal Alouettes Prediction

On paper, all signs point to the Argonauts continuing to ride their recent wave of supremacy. After all, Toronto is well-rested and has had two weeks to prepare for this game, and they are facing a slumping Als team, who is playing on short rest.

However, Winning in Montreal has always been challenging for Toronto. And that should be the case here as well.

This is as imposing of a test as the Argos’ last game was against the Lions, just for different reasons. How the defending Grey Cup Champs handle the euphoria surrounding them coming off the bye will reveal a lot about their character.

I think Montreal covers the spread and keeps this game close. They can pull off what seems like to most experts, an unlikely upset.

Prediction: Toronto Argonauts 32 Montreal Alouettes 29

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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