The Alouettes head to Winnipeg to take on the Blue Bombers Thursday night in what looks to be the marquee matchup of the week. Both teams are on 4 game win streaks and both were without their starting quarterback for the last 2 games. Winnipeg beat Montreal 17-3 in week 4.
CFL First Period All-Star Team (Weeks 1-7)
Previous Alouettes Takeaways:
Montreal Alouettes (6-3): The Montreal Alouettes are on a 4-game win streak since their bye week. Caleb Evans led the team under center the last 2 games with Cody Fajardo nursing an injured left shoulder.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers (8-2): As stated the Blue Bombers are also on a 4-game win streak. Zach Collaros is returning for them after missing 2 games due to injury as Dru Brown filled in for him. Recently they defeated the Calgary Stampeders on the road 19-18 in a field goal showdown in which the only touchdown was a defensive score off of a pick 6.
Date/Location: Thursday, August 24 /IG Field, Winnipeg, MB
Kickoff Time: 8:30 PM ET, 5:30 PM PT
Channel: TSN (Canada), CBS Sports (USA), CFL+ (International)
Spread: Montreal +8.5 (-110), Winnipeg -8.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Montreal +300, Winnipeg -370
Over/Under: 47.5 (Over -115, Under -105)
Keys to an Alouette Win
Stop the Run
You have to play good defense against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. So many times teams have been trailing in the fourth quarter and the Bombers relentlessly pound the rock handing it off to Brady Oliveira on their way to victory. Oliveira leads the CFL in rushing yards with 783 in 10 games averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
Rush the Passer
Zach Collaros has had 2 games so far this year that have stood out as games in which he really struggled to be productive. The week 3 loss to the BC Lions and though brief his play in the game against the Edmonton Elks in week 10 before his injury. Both of these games had 1 commonality from the defensive play and that was a highly effective pass rush. Shawn Lemon has 4 sacks in 4 games since joining the Alouettes at defensive end and Mustafa Johnson is coming off of a big game at defensive tackle.
The Alouettes were the only other team to hold Collaros to under 200 yards which was in week 4 in poor weather conditions. The defensive unit has changed since for Montreal with injuries to key players such as Avery Williams, Najee Murray, Ciante Evans, and Dionte Ruffin yet the Alouettes have continued to be an effective defensive unit.
Limit Winnipeg’s Receivers
Winnipeg has an assortment of deadly receivers such as Nic Demski, Dalton Schoen, Kenny Lawler, Rasheed Baily, and Drew Wolitarsky. This is a major test for Kabion Ento and Kordell Rodgers at cornerback who have played very well after both begining the season on the practice roster. Reggie Stubblefield is another rookie CFL defensive back who has been excelling with his new opportunity. Wesley Sutton and Marc-Antoine Dequoy have been cornerstones all season at halfback and safety respectively. The entire unit is going to need to be excellent in this difficult matchup.
Cody Fajardo Needs to Spread the Ball Around
Montreal has 2 CFL rookies starting this season in Austin Mack and Tyler Snead who have both been excellent. The other starters include Chandler Worthy who is starting in place of Quartney Davis who is now on the 6-game injured list and Canadians Tyson Philpot and Hergy Mayala. There have been some games this season in which Cody Fajardo was over-focusing on just 2 receivers, Austin Mack and Kaion Julien-Grant and it made the offense more predictable at times. He needs to go through his progressions quickly and trust his open receivers to make a play. Kevin Kaya and Regis Cibasu are listed as second-stringers and are both capable of making plays as well.
Montreal Needs to Establish the Run
There has been a strong correlation especially early in the season with giving up a lot of sacks and not running the ball for Montreal. Montreal needs to commit to getting William Stanback going on the ground game to have a dimensional offense against the Bombers’ defense and maintain a game plan that is not predictable.
Keys to a Blue Bomber Victory
Unleash the Jeffs
Jackson Jeffcoat and Willie Jefferson are both coming off of big games against Calgary in which they put pressure often on Jake Maier who threw many incompletions due to being hurried by them.
Take Montreal’s Receivers Seriously
Montreal has 3 receivers who are very young in their CFL careers in Austin Mack and Tyler Snead who are having great rookie seasons as well as Tyson Philpot who is in his second season and showed high potential last year. Chandler Worthy is listed as a starting receiver this week and is normally used exclusively in the return game but he can be dangerous in space. Kevin Kaya only played 5 games in a backup role last season and had 2 catches for 25 yards but he had a great USports career for the Montreal Carabins and will be hungry for an opportunity to shine.
Limit William Stanback
Montreal’s offense has looked night and day when it can establish the run vs. when it abandons it. The Alouettes gave up 26 sacks in their first 5 games which for the most part Montreal barely was running the ball and the offensive line was playing on their heels. If they can take away the run game, the pass rush will reach another level.
Cody Fajardo is very good and escaping pressure and gashing up defenses for big plays with his legs. Montreal will need to be mindful of this as Fajardo has often been a wizard evading the pass rush.
Montreal Depth Chart Changes From Last Week:
Quartney Davis was listed as doubtful but has been ruled out for this contest. Enter Kevin Kaya to be a second-string receiver, Chandler Worthy is listed as a starting receiver. Jake Harty is also unavailable due to a leg injury.
Patrick Davis will miss his second straight game due to a leg injury on the offensive line. Philippe Gagnon continues to be out with an elbow injury.
Walter Fletcher is brought back into the lineup after missing last week and will be the second-string running back.
It is very rare for Winnipeg to lose at home and it is expected to be a rocking atmosphere tonight at IG Field. Winnipeg has been so dangerous on their own turf the last few seasons that it is hard to predict against the Blue Bombers. I think Montreal is going to surprise people with their quality of play and show that they should be taken seriously as contenders. I do however predict Winnipeg to win this tilt by a score of 27 to 21.
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