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CFL Preview - Montreal (8-4) at Hamilton (4-8)

From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Friday, September 28, 7:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: Firmly in control of the East Division standings, the Montreal Alouettes try to put even more distance between themselves and the competition as they take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday night at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

Since losing back-to-back games versus Hamilton and Toronto in July, the Als have rattled off six wins in seven opportunities in order to assume the top spot in the division where they hold a four-point advantage over the Argonauts heading into play this week.

Montreal had some spirited play from several sources in the 31-10 triumph over Toronto last week, as Anthony Calvillo moved beyond 77,000 passing yards for his career as he converted 15-of-29 passes for 315 yards and a couple of touchdowns, as well as a pair of interceptions. Although he failed to make it into the end zone, Brandon London delivered his fourth 100-yard receiving game of the season with five receptions for 118 yards.

S.J. Green finished with just 58 yards on two catches for the Als, but that was still good enough to push him over the 1,000-yard mark for the second year in a row. A relative newcomer to the program, Victor Anderson scored a pair of majors for the Als, one on the ground and another through the air, becoming yet one more weapon for Calvillo to have at his disposal.

But perhaps the most exciting play of the game came on a missed 41-yard field goal attempt by Swayze Waters which was returned by Trent Guy a record 129 yards up the right sideline early in the third quarter. Guy also logged a nine-yard TD reception in the second quarter which capped a seven-play, 80- yard drive for the Alouettes.

As for the Tiger-Cats, a team which started the season with three wins in five tries but has since hit the skids with just one more victory in seven opportunities, they were held to a mere 237 yards by Winnipeg last time out in a 34-12 road defeat.

Now four games under .500, Hamilton is in third place in the East Division standings after Henry Burris led an inept offensive effort that failed to produce a single major. In fact, the entire scoring total came from kicker Luca Congi who knocked through all four of his field goal tries in the outing.

Burris finished 11-of-24 for 156 yards and was sacked three times. Avon Cobourne was stymied as well as he carried the ball 18 times for 77 yards and also caught three passes for another 33 yards but was held out of the end zone.

Penalties played a huge role in the outcome as Hamilton was flagged 17 times for 135 yards.

Burris is still second in the league in total passing yards, trailing only Calvillo (3,711), with his 3,520 yards, but it just goes to show that even the best quarterbacks are capable of having disappointing outings. In fact, Burris remains the league's top passer in terms of TD tosses with 27, leading him to a CFL-best 104.2 efficiency rating and yet his team can't buy a win these days.

Because of the efforts of Burris, Hamilton leads the league in scoring with 30.0 ppg entering play this week. However, at the same time the squad is last in the CFL in preventing points, giving up 31.8 ppg which is difficult to overcome.

Burris has had several top-notch efforts against Montreal in his career and in recent matchups he has performed rather well from an overall stats standpoint with a total of 14 passing TDs and just three interceptions in his last six appearances.

Calvillo, who has thrown more than one interception just once in his career versus Hamilton, has also built some strong numbers in recent meetings. Over the last four encounters with Hamilton, Calvillo has thrown for no less than 329 yards and has a total of 10 touchdowns, against just a single interception so if the Tiger-Cats are expecting pro football's all-time passing yardage leader to hand them a gift this week, they are sorely mistaken.

Montreal barely slipped by with a 31-29 victory in the most recent meeting at home last month against the 'Cats, which means the Als now own an 88-78-7 advantage in the all-time, regular-season series dating back to 1950. Montreal has won three of the last four clashes overall.

Obviously both of these teams have a lot on the line in this last few weeks of the regular season, but if the Hamilton defense doesn't toughen up this is one of those meetings that could get pretty ugly.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montreal 38, Hamilton 24

09/26 11:19:19 ET

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