The Montreal Alouettes host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to wrap up both team’s regular seasons. Some may call it a meaningless game as it has no implications on the final standings yet it is one of significant importance as both teams fine-tune their game ahead of playing each other in the Eastern Division Semi-Final the following week.
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Date/Location: Saturday, October 28 /Percival Molson Memorial Stadium, Montreal, QC
Kickoff Time: 4 PM ET, 1 AM PT
Channel: TSN (Canada), CFL+ (USA, International)
Spread: Montreal +1.5 (-110), Hamilton -1.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Montreal -120, Hamilton +100
Over/Under: 47.5 (Over -110, Under -110)
Montreal Alouettes (10-7): The Montreal Alouettes clinched home-field advantage in the East Division Semi-Finals with their win over Edmonton in week 19. Montreal is coming off of their bye week following a 4 game-win streak. Montreal has won all 10 of their games so far this season against teams who are not BC, Winnipeg, or Toronto. However, against those 3 teams, Montreal is 0-7. Montreal will be without wide receiver Kaion Julien-Grant this week due to a shoulder injury but they will have Greg Ellingson available who has been limited to only 1 game this season due to injuries. Cody Fajardo is expected to play 1 quarter against Hamilton in this matchup with Caleb Evans and Davis Alexander expected to handle the majority of the game at quarterback.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats (8-9): The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are also coming off of a bye week following a 30-33 loss to the BC Lions at home which ended with a walk-off game-winning field goal from Sean Whyte for the Lions. Recently the Tiger-Cats have had both Taylor Powell and Bo Levi Mitchell play at quarterback. It is unclear as of yet if Bo Levi Mitchell or Taylor Powell will play the majority of the game but it will be important for Hamilton to get Bo Levi Mitchell some meaningful reps ahead of the playoffs as he has been limited to only 5 games this season due to injury.
“I honestly don’t have the answer. Sure, you’d like to just even it out and make sure everybody’s ready to go but I’m not really sure which decision we’ll make at this time.” Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ head coach Orlando Steinauer said following their last game regarding who will be playing at quarterback in their regular season finale.
The Tiger-Cats will be without 4 players this week due to injuries according to their injury report notably including defensive back Richard Leonard and wide receiver Duke Williams. They will be resting their standout defensive tackle Casey Sayles in this contest although he was a full participant in practice this week.
Alouettes Keys to the Game
Everyone involved in this game will say that it is important to get the win. In truth, the important thing will be to be playing football at a high form and not take on any injuries. There is no such thing as a meaningless game and this will be one for many players to get an opportunity to get some game film of themselves who may not always have as much playing time.
With the game not implicating the final standings and the playoff matchups already being set in stone an injury to a key player will prove more detrimental to either team than losing the game would be.
Strong Pass Protection
Montreal has had an issue in the sacks allowed department this season. Heading into week 18 prior to the game against Ottawa Montreal had allowed the most sacks in the league. So far this season the Alouettes have allowed 58 sacks.
In the Alouette’s most recent game against Edmonton, they allowed 3 sacks. According to Pro Football Focus, their offensive line allowed only a 5.6% pass-rush win rate which was the second lowest in that metric of any team so far this season. An impressive feat considering the talented pass rushers that Edmonton has in Jake Ceresna and AC Leonard.
Embrace the Run
I’ve been writing all season regarding how Montreal’s offense is much more efficient when there is a healthy mix of running the football. Montreal plays best when they are running the ball roughly on 1 third of their offensive plays. When they have abandoned the run oftentimes the offense has become predictable and stagnant. Additionally, this has often been when the offensive line has struggled in pass protection when there are several passing plays in a row without any run plays to keep the defense on their heels.
William Stanback is getting the start at running back after missing some time due to injury. It is his first game since September 30 for the 2021 CFL All-Star.
Quick Progressions From Fajardo
This season there have been times in which Fajardo has either gone slowly in his progressions or has locked on to certain targets. He is only expected to play 1 quarter in this game but it will be a good sign if Fajardo is going through his progressions quickly in his final regular-season appearance.
Montreal has demonstrated this season good depth at the receiving position with a lot of new names to the CFL such as Austin Mack and Tyler Snead. This week’s starting receivers include Austin Mack, Tyler Snead, Shedler Fevius, Cole Spieker, and Tyson Philpot. Regis Cibasu and James Letcher Jr. are listed as 2nd string receivers this weekend.
Strong Run Defense
With James Butler in Hamilton, A.J. Ouellette in Toronto, and Brady Oliveira in Winnipeg, Montreal will need solid run defense in order to make a run for the Grey Cup. The Alouettes limited Devonta Williams to 70 yards on 17 carries over their last 2 games against Ottawa before they faced Edmonton. Against Edmonton, Kevin Brown rushed 10 times for 68 yards.
The Secondary to Remain Vigil
Montreal has allowed the 2nd least yards per pass attempt at 7.7 yards and the 2nd fewest passing touchdowns this season. There is uncertainty regarding who will be throwing the ball for Hamilton. The danger with this game is that one can consider it to be meaningless which leads to complacency. It will be key for Montreal’s secondary to stay focused and keep playing at the high level they have been performing at heading into the playoffs.
Alouettes to Watch
QB Davis Alexander
Davis Alexander has only attempted 15 CFL passes so far in his 2-year career completing 9 of those passes for 94 yards with 1 interception which came last year. In his preseason appearances over the last 2 seasons, he has completed 38 of his 52 pass attempts (73%) for 336 yards and a touchdown.
QB Caleb Evans
Evans is in his 3rd season in the CFL. Last year he started in 7 games for Ottawa and completed 111 of 178 (62.3%) for 4 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He also added 354 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns over the season, many of which were QB sneaks as the short-yardage quarterback.
This year Evans has started in 2 games for Montreal and has completed 38 of his 57 passes (66.7%) for 543 yards and 3 touchdowns with 4 interceptions. He has also rushed 46 times for 180 yards and 8 touchdowns over the season.
WR Greg Ellingson
Ellingson has only played in 1 game this season due to injuries. Over the 2 previous seasons, he had appeared in 18 games catching 85 passes for 1,285 yards and 4 touchdowns. He had 4 1,000 yard seasons in a row from 2016 to 2019.
WR Cole Spieker
Spieker had himself quite a game in week 21 last year catching 6 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown in Toronto. This season he has appeared in 11 games and has 27 catches for 345 yards and a touchdown.
RB Jeshrun Antwi
Antwi rushed 106 times last year for 600 yards (5.7 yards per carry). This season he has been given the ball for 35 rushes for 211 yards and a touchdown (6 yards per carry).
DE T.D. Moultry
Moultry is getting his first CFL start this weekend. He played in 58 games for Auburn with his last year being in 2021. He had 9 sacks and 72 tackles over his career with 33 tackles and 4 sacks in his final season with Auburn.
LB Tyrell Richards
Playing in his first game since late August due to a lower-body injury. In 9 games Richards has 10 tackles, a forced fumble, and a pick 6 against Winnipeg.
LB Avery Williams
Williams is playing in his first game since September 30. He has played 8 games for the Alouettes this season contributing 30 tackles and a pass defended.
CB Dishon McNary
McNary is listed as a 2nd string corner this week. It may be an opportunity to give the CFL rookie out of Central Michigan some playing time.
Tiger-Cats to Watch
QB Bo Levi Mitchell
Mitchell has been limited to only 5 games this season due to injuries. He has completed 73 of his 122 passes (59.8%) for 978 yards and 6 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season.
QB Taylor Powell
Powell has completed 187 of his 273 passes this season (64.7%) for 2,177 yards and 10 touchdowns with 7 interceptions. The product of Eastern Michigan is in his first CFL season.
WR Terry Godwin II
Godin is 2nd in receiving yards for the Tiger-Cats having caught 65 passes for 808 yards and 6 touchdowns. With Tim White not playing in this game expect a lot of targets to go Godwin’s way.
WR Kondre Smith
Smith is third on the team in receiving with 52 catches for 651 yards.
RB Tayon Fleet-Davis
With Hamilton resting James Butler, Fleet-Davis is getting the start. He was a member of the Kansas City Chiefs training camp last year as an undrafted free agent and is poised for his first carry in a professional football regular season game. He had 1,343 yards at Maryland and 15 touchdowns. Notably in his final season with Maryland, he had 721 yards, 5.63 yards per carry, and 8 touchdowns.
Fleet-Davis had 13 carries for 39 yards in this past preseason with the Tiger-Cats.
DE Jamal Davis II
Jamal Davis was released by Montreal recently and posted on Twitter stating that he asked to be released following the move although it is not yet clear as to why. Since joining Hamilton he has 2 sacks in just 3 games and is making his first start this weekend for the Tiger-Cats. It is his first time facing Montreal where he played 29 regular season games for since 2021 contributing 9 sacks and 48 tackles for the Alouettes.
LB Jameer Thurman
Thurman leads the Tiger-Cats in tackles with 91. He also has 4 sacks, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, and 4 passes defended.
S Stavros Katsantonis
Katsantonis leads Hamilton in interceptions with 5. He also has 55 tackles, 2 sacks, 4 passes defended, and a touchdown.
I am predicting a 26-17 win for the Alouettes partially due to the fact that the Alouettes are resting fewer starters while playing at home.
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