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Montreal Alouettes Week 1 Preview vs Winnipeg Blue Bombers: Prediction, Depth Chart, Injuries, Odds

The Montreal Alouettes hit the road to open their season with a difficult test. The CFL season will kickoff with a rematch of last year’s Grey Cup. Montreal has lost some pieces and added some this offseason but retained much of their core.

Game Details:

Date/Location: Thursday, June 6 /Princess Auto Stadium, Winnipeg, MB
Kickoff Time: 8:30 PM ET, 5:30 PM PT
Channel: TSN (Canada), CBS Sports Network (USA), CFL+ (Global)
Odds: 

Spread: Montreal +7.5 (-110), Winnipeg -7.5 (-110)

Moneyline: Montreal +285, Winnipeg -365

Over/Under: 47.5 (Over -110, Under -110)

CFL Week 0 Power Rankings: Establishing the Pecking Order

Predictions: CFL News Hub Writers’ Week 1 Picks

Montreal Alouettes: The Montreal Alouettes look to build on their success last season with a challenging week 1 opponent in the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Montreal will be without some key pieces from last year’s roster including WR Austin Mack, RB William Stanback, DE Lwal Uguak, LB Avery Williams, and DB Ciante Evans.

Montreal will see a couple of newcomers starting in week 1 as Canadian defensive lineman Isaac Adeyemi-Berglund will start at defensive end and Derek Wiggan will start at defensive tackle. Both players were acquired in free agency this offseason.

On offense, Joshua Donovan will be making his first CFL start which will be at right tackle in place of injured Jamar McGloster. He joined the Alouettes early in the year last season and was on the practice roster from that point on.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers: Quarterback Zach Collaros is coming into this game cold having not played in the preseason. He has had some underwhelming games in the past few years when coming in cold such as in 2022 when he had 188 passing yards after not playing in the preseason. Some of his least productive games in the last 3 seasons have also come after resting ahead of the Western Divisional final.

Winnipeg saw a few key departures of their own this season. The retirement of Jackson Jeffcoat at defensive end leaves a big hole on Winnipeg’s defensive line. Jeffcoat had the 2nd highest grade from Pro Football Focus among all free agents. Additionally, he was the only player to have a grade above 80 in both run defense and pass rushing. Other starters no longer with the team include WR Rasheed Bailey, weakside linebacker Malik Clements, offensive tackle Jemarcus Hardrick, cornerback Demerio Houston, cornerback Winston Rose, and DT Ricky Walker.

It’s a Bombers team going through a lot of changes but so far through the Zach Collaros era Winnipeg has found a way to be consistently dominant. They still have Collaros, Oliveira, Schoen, Lawler, and Demski so it’s going to be one of the most dangerous offenses this season.

Alouettes Keys to the Game

Get Winnipeg’s Defense Off Balance

Against Winnipeg, it’s very important to have a good mix of run plays to keep the defense honest. Montreal did a good job keeping the defense off balance in the Grey Cup with a lot of bubble screens and that helped to get the defense playing wide and get Winnipeg off balance. Last year we saw Montreal have problems allowing too many sacks and this often happened when Montreal would run several standard passing plays in a row.

Cody Fajardo to Make Quick Reads and Spread the Ball Around

The starting receivers will be rookie Charleston Rambo who joins Tyler Snead, Cole Spieker, Kaion Julien-Grant, and Tyson Philpot to be the starting 5 for this contest. It will be important for Fajardo to make quick reads to minimize the impact of Willie Jefferson and trust the open receiver as all the returning receivers among this starting group proved to be reliable last year.

Strong Run Defense

Winnipeg is a team that strongly uses the run game. Last year no running back got more carries than Brady Oliveira and it was not even close. Anytime a football team can neutralize either the ground or passing game and make them 1 dimensional you increase your chances to win significantly. Stopping Brady Oliveira is no easy task. Montreal’s defensive tackle Mustafa Johnson had the third highest run defense grade among defensive lineman last year so this is going to be an important game for him as well as defensive tackle Derek Wiggan.

Lockdown Coverage

Last year it’s my belief that Montreal had the best pass defense. Winnipeg has a great trio of receivers in Dalton Schoen, Kenny Lawler, and Nic Demski. There is very little room for error and the communication among defensive backs will need to be very good. Last year Winnipeg saw a lot of success at different times from crossing routes in which the defensive backs did not switch off quickly enough resulting in an open receiver downfield.

5 Alouettes to Watch

#7 QB Cody Fajardo

The reigning Grey Cup MVP. He completed 71.3% of his passes last year for 3,830 yards and 14 touchdowns with 12 interceptions.

#25 RB Walter Fletcher

Fletcher rushed 58 times last year for 266 yards, 4.59 yards per carry. He will get the start in week 1 following the departure of William Stanback.

#14 WR Charleston Rambo

Rambo will start at receiver as a CFL rookie. He caught 7 passes for 138 yards over the preseason.

#91 DE Isaac Adeyemi-Berglund

Adeyemi-Berglund joins Montreal after playing his first 3 seasons with the Calgary Stampeders. He has 52 tackles and 14 sacks over 50 CFL regular season games.

#19 LB Geoffrey Cantin-Arku

Cantin-Arku was Montreal’s 1st round draft this offseason. He had 8 tackles over the preseason and a fumble recovery. He also had 2 QB hurries, 2 run stops, and made 2 stops against short passing plays.

Blue Bombers to Watch

#8 QB Zach Collaros

The 2021 and 2022 MOP has a bit of pressure to bounce back after a postseason in which he had 2 interceptions and 1 touchdown while throwing for under 200 yards in each of the 2 playoff games.

#20 RB Brady Oliveira

Oliveira was a bellcow running back last year which saw him rush 261 times for 1,540 yards (5.9 average), and 9 touchdowns over the regular season.

#80 WR Ontaria Wilson

Wilson will make his first CFL start. The Florida State product caught 3 passes for 13 yards in the preseason.

#45 DE Celestin Haba

Haba played in 8 games last year with 3 starts at defensive end. He recorded 12 tackles, 4 sacks, and a forced fumble.

#30 CB Tyrell Ford

Ford is back with the Bombers after a stint with the Green Bay Packers training camp last year. Ford was a 13th overall pick for Winnipeg in 2022. He played in every game for the Bombers with 1 start in 2022 and recorded 3 tackles and 10 special teams tackles. Now he is back with Winnipeg where he will start at cornerback which is not a common position to see Canadians start at.

Injury Report:

Depth Charts:

Score Prediction:

I am predicting Montreal to win this one in large part due to the fact that I have seen a pattern of a reduction in quality of play from Zach Collaros when he comes into games without recent playing time. 

Montreal 27, Winnipeg 24

Regardless of the outcome, I am expecting an intense football game with a playoff atmosphere.

@JonathanClink on Twitter

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Jonathan Clink Reporter
Jonathan Clink joined CFL News Hub in early April of 2023. His primary responsibilities are covering the BC Lions and Montreal Alouettes. He self awarded himself the CFL Rookie Journalist of the Year in 2023 following the 2023 CFL season. He also proclaims himself to be a "really cool guy". He was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and lived a large portion of his childhood in Northwest Ontario. He currently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan and misses being being able to have 4 months of skating every winter. Clink has written over 240 articles for CFL News Hub. He was the publication's boots on the ground at the 2023 Grey Cup in Hamilton. Clink has always had an obsession for sport and has a background in other sports as well having played hockey all his life and soccer, basketball, and lacrosse in high school. As a young child he used to log his hockey statistics after every game which is either an indication that he was destined for the role or perhaps and indication that he is rather strange.
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