CFL Preview - Winnipeg (3-10) at Montreal (8-5)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Monday, October 8, 1:00 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: Trying to avoid back-to-back defeats for just the second time this
season, the Montreal Alouettes take the field on Monday afternoon at Stade
Percival-Molson Stadium as they host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Montreal, which lost consecutive games against Hamilton and Toronto in July,
has dropped only two games since, but one came against the Tiger-Cats last
Sunday in a 41-28 final. Nevertheless, the Als are still alone in first place
in the East Division standings, two points up on the Argonauts with five games
remaining in the regular season.
As for the Blue Bombers, to say that this season has been a disappointment
would definitely qualify as an understatement given where they were at the end
of the 2011 campaign. With only three victories in 13 chances this year,
Winnipeg has the fewest wins of any team in the league and is buried at the
bottom of the East Division standings as a result.
Unfortunately, it seems to have gotten even worse for the Bombers as Buck
Pierce was knocked out of the game against Toronto last week, the team en
route to a 29-10 loss which was its fifth in the last six outings.
Watching from the sidelines for much of this season with an injury already,
Pierce was back in action last week against the Argos, hitting 8-of-13 passes
for 120 yards and a touchdown, but he took a vicious hit from Brandon Isaac
which drew a 15-yard penalty, resulting in a mild concussion. At this stage it
is unclear if Pierce, who has suffered numerous injuries during his career,
will be able to make an appearance on Monday, but the one thing that is for
sure is that the signal-caller believes the hit was malicious.
In any event, after Pierce departed Joey Elliott, who figures to be the
starter this week if the former is unable to make it, converted 20-of-30 pass
attempts for 173 yards, but he was picked off three times which prevented the
Bombers from making a serious run in the lopsided affair.
Meanwhile, the Alouettes started out slow against Hamilton and found
themselves down by two touchdowns entering the second quarter, which is not
exactly the most comfortable position for any team. Nevertheless, Anthony
Calvillo did his best to lead the comeback bid as he generated 197 yards and
two touchdowns on just 12-of-23 passing. Unfortunately, the running attack was
almost nonexistent, at least as far as yardage is concerned, the team coming
up with a net of only 41 yards on 12 attempts, although Adrian McPherson and
Chris Jennings did register rushing touchdowns of one and five yards,
Jamel Richardson caught five balls for 69 yards and a major, his fourth TD in
his last five games after being held scoreless through the first five.
Richardson, who missed three games with a hamstring injury, has registered
four straight seasons with at least 1,000 yards receiving, but he'll need to
pick up the pace now to make that happen this year since he has but 631 yards
on 42 grabs.
But if anyone can get it done Richardson can, especially since he has the most
accomplished passer in CFL history delivering the ball to him. Calvillo,
outside of one weak effort in late October last season when he threw for just
199 yards and was picked off three times, has owned the Blue Bombers in recent
years. Even taking into account that lackluster performance, Calvillo has
still thrown for 21 TDs and just four interceptions in the last nine meetings
dating back to Nov. 1, 2009.
Should Elliott get the start for Winnipeg, it will be his first-ever action
against the Alouettes, and there's a chance that might work to his advantage
since the Montreal defense isn't exactly sure on who to plan for on Monday.
Then again, having shuffled three different signal-callers in and out of the
lineup this season, the Bombers have had a lot of trouble getting everyone on
the same page and that's reflected in their passing stats. Winnipeg is the
only team in the league completing attempts at less than 60 percent (.580)
and has far more INTs (16) than TDs (10), which has to be frustrating to
receivers like Chris Matthews and Terrence Edwards who are putting together
strong campaigns but could probably be doing so much more if there was some
stability at quarterback.
Montreal has won two straight meetings and seven of the last nine clashes with
Winnipeg, including a 36-26 triumph in early August on the road. Taking into
consideration only regular season games, the Als own a 45-34-2 advantage in
the all-time series dating back to 1946.
Expect the Montreal defense to get after whomever the Blue Bombers have
stepping in to play quarterback this time around, giving Calvillo even more
opportunities to pick apart the Winnipeg defense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montreal 31, Winnipeg 17
10/03 11:23:53 ET
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