The Montreal Alouettes host the Ottawa RedBlacks for Thanksgiving. It is the fourth and final meeting of the season between these teams. Montreal has won the first 3 meetings outscoring Ottawa 76-51 in those games.
Date/Location: Monday, October 9 /Percival Molson Memorial Stadium, Montreal, QC
Kickoff Time: 1 PM ET, 10 AM PT
Channel: TSN (Canada), CBS Sports (USA), CFL+ (International)
Spread: Montreal -6.5 (-110), Ottawa +6.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Montreal -270, Ottawa +220
Over/Under: 47.5 (Over -110, Under -110)
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Montreal Alouettes (8-7): The Montreal Alouettes control their chances towards sealing 2nd in the East for home-field advantage. We know for sure that the Alouettes will be playing Hamilton in the East Semi Finals but it is to be determined who will be the home team. Montreal is currently 8-7 while Hamilton is 8-8. Montreal does have the tiebreaker over the Tiger-Cats having won both of the first 2 meetings against Hamilton. Montreal is the only team to be undefeated against every team that is not BC, Winnipeg, or Toronto going 8-0 in those games. However, Montreal has lost all of their games so far against BC, Winnipeg, and Toronto going 0-7 in those games.
Ottawa RedBlacks (4-11): The Ottawa RedBlacks have been a snake-bitten team this season. They have scored the 4th most points in the league at 363 but have allowed the 2nd most in the league. Ottawa has lost a lot of close games and has seen at least 12 games be decided within the final 3 minutes of the game. While Ottawa has been eliminated from the playoffs in the East they remain alive in pursuit of the West Crossover. If Ottawa can win their last 2 games and Saskatchewan loses their last 2, then Ottawa will be able to sneak over to the West Division with the crossover.
Alouettes Keys to the Game
For the past few weeks in my mind, there have been 3 essential keys for the Alouettes to fine-tune ahead of the playoffs. This included their pass protection, committing to the run game, and stopping the run.
Montreal is tied for first in sacks allowed heading into this week with Ottawa as both teams have allowed 54 sacks. Last week Montreal allowed 4 sacks but their pass blocking was listed as their key area in that week by Pro Football Focus as they had a grade of 82.4. Montreal allowed 9 total pressures last week which was a 21.7 percent pressure rate according to Pro Football Focus which was the second lowest pressure rate among CFL teams in week 17.
Keep Running the Football
Heading into last week Ottawa had allowed the 2nd lowest yards per rush at 4.1 yards per carry which was the 2nd best in the league heading into week 17. Last week Montreal had a great game on the ground as William Stanback rushed 13 times for 85 yards (6.5 yards per carry) and a touchdown and had a 24-yard run. Jeshrun Atwi also rushed 5 times for 16 yards.
My primary criticism of the Alouettes this season has been their limited usage of the run game which at times has made them predictable. Last week Montreal handed the ball off to their runningbacks 18 times. Comparing this to Fajardo’s 20 pass attempts, Montreal had a very good balance of passing and run plays which they have often not had this season. The adjustment in Montreal’s play-calling tendencies in my opinion makes Montreal much more playoff-ready.
Stop the Run
Good run-stopping is going to be key for Montreal to have a realistic shot at winning the East Division. Toronto has been a hard-running football team that runs the ball frequently. It will be unlikely to expect to beat Toronto if Montreal cannot stop the run. Montreal has had a lot of injuries in their linebacking group and had allowed 5.7 yards per rush attempt heading into last week. Montreal had success limiting Devonte Williams last week to 25 yards and a touchdown on 7 carries keeping him to 3.6 yards per carry.
Contain Dustin Crum
Dustin Crum is very dangerous with his legs. Montreal did a good job keeping him contained last week as he rushed only 3 times for 35 yards. Montreal also had 5 sacks on Crum all coming from their linebackers.
Quick Progressions From Cody Fajardo
Last week Montreal had a good pass blocking grade but allowed 4 sacks. Pro Football Focus attributed this to Cody Fajardo holding on to the ball too long due to good pass coverage by Ottawa. At times this season, Fajardo has not gone through his progressions quickly and has sometimes stayed locked onto the same receiver for too long or has forced a lot of passes to the same target. Last week Fajardo had the lowest PFF Passing Grade and made 4 turnover-worthy plays. It was the third game this season in which Fajardo threw for under 180 yards. Montreal is going to need Fajardo to step up and play at a high level which he is capable of doing. Cody Fajardo was a CFL All-Star in 2019 with Saskatchewan.
Alouettes to Watch
RB Walter Fletcher
William Stanback was listed as questionable on the injury report and is not listed on this week’s depth chart. Walter Fletcher will get the start at running back. Fletcher has rushed 31 times for 135 yards this season (4.4 average)
RB Jeshrunn Antwi
Antwi is listed as the 2nd string running back this week. He has rushed 33 times this season for 172 yards and a touchdown. (5.2 average).
WR Cole Spieker
Last week Spieker led the team in receiving yards catching all 3 of his targets for 60 yards.
WR Tyson Philpot
Philpot had 3 catches last week for 41 yards and a touchdown. He has 7 catches and 128 yards in the last 2 games.
WR Austin Mack
Mack is back in the lineup after missing last week due to injury. Mack has 70 receptions for 1,057 yards and 4 touchdowns over 13 games.
DE Lwal Uguak
Uguak is getting another start this week. He was a first-round draft pick out of Texas Christian University this past draft for the Alouettes. Uguak had 5 total pressures generated last week and had the 8th-highest PFF Pass Rush Grade.
DT Mustafa Johnson
Mustafa Johnson has been one of the best pass-rushing defensive tackles this season. Last week he had the 5th highest PFF Pass Rush Grade and had 5 total pressures generated. Johnson has 4 sacks and 32 tackles over 13 games this season.
LB Tyrice Beverette
Beverette had the 4th highest run defense grade last week among linebackers. He also had 6 tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 special teams tackles.
LB Reggie Stubblefield
Last week Stubblefield had 7 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception.
CB Ciante Evans
Last week Evans had the 10th-highest PFF Coverage Grade.
RedBlacks to Watch
QB Dustin Crum
Dustin Crum has been a great storyline this season after beginning the year as the 4th quarterback on the pecking order behind Jeremiah Masolia, Nick Arbuckle, and Tyrie Adams. The Cookie Monster has completed 201 of his 287 passes (70%) for 2,334 yards and 7 touchdowns with 7 interceptions. He has also added 620 rushing yards and 9 rushing touchdowns.
RB Devonte Williams
Last week Montreal held him to 25 yards on 7 carries and 1 touchdown. He also had 8 receptions for 66 yards. So far this season he has averaged 5.4 yards per carry rushing 144 times for 782 yards and 2 touchdowns.
WR Bralon Addison
Last week Addison caught 7 of his 9 targets for 94 yards.
DE Bryce Carter
Leads the RedBlacks in sacks with 11 and also has 27 tackles and has 2 forced fumbles
LB Frankie Griffin
Griffin had the 2nd highest PFF run defense grade among linebackers last week during which he had 3 tackles. He leads the team in tackles with 58.
LB Jovan Santos-Knox
Santos-Knox had the 5th highest PFF run defense grade last week and 3 tackles. He has 45 tackles and a sack this season.
Injuries, Depth Chart Changes From Last Week:
Montreal’s performance against the run and the success in the run game last are very assuring for Alouettes’ fans although they will want to see better play from Cody Fajardo. I predict Montreal to get the win for their home fans by a score of 27-20.
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