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CFL Preview - Montreal (8-6) at Toronto (7-7)



From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Sunday, October 14, 1:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: The Montreal Alouettes try to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the 2012 campaign when they take on the Toronto Argonauts at Rogers Centre on Sunday afternoon.

Last year, the Als didn't drop three consecutive regular-season decisions until the final weeks and then saw that dismal stretch extended to four straight when they bowed to Hamilton in overtime (52-44) in the playoffs, so Montreal is well aware of how an untimely skid can cause an entire campaign to run off the rails.

On Monday, the Alouettes were stunned by Winnipeg, a team that had lost all six of its road games in 2012, as the Blue Bombers delivered a 27-22 victory at Stade Percival-Molson Stadium. Quarterback Anthony Calvillo kept his team close as he completed 21-of-39 passes for 336 yards, but he was intercepted twice and didn't throw his one and only touchdown of the game until late in the fourth quarter.

Brandon London, the recipient of that 13-yard major from Calvillo, finished with nine catches for 170 yards, both of which were game highs. Running back Victor Anderson contributed with 80 rushing yards on 14 carries, and he also gained another 48 yards on four receptions in the setback for the Als.

As for the Argonauts, they too are fighting for the top spot in the East Division standings, just one game off the pace set by Montreal at the moment. However, Toronto has hit the skids in recent weeks, losing three of the last four outings, including a 36-10 decision versus Saskatchewan on Monday afternoon at home.

Toronto found itself trailing by double digits in the first quarter and ended up being shut down in the second half altogether. Part of the problem was that the Argonauts played very undisciplined as they were flagged for 17 penalties that led to a loss of 126 yards. Considering the unit recorded just 223 yards of total offense to begin with, there was little chance of the Argos overcoming their issues on the field.

Starting quarterback Jarious Jackson completed slightly better than 50 percent of his pass attempts (16-of-31) for 162 yards and one touchdown, but he also tossed an interception and was largely ineffective for most of the day. Signed as a free agent in the middle of August, running back Gerald Riggs scored his first CFL touchdown on a five-yard pass in the second frame, but after that the game belonged to the Roughriders who scored 23 straight points to close out the Argos.

The featured back for Toronto, Riggs finished with 56 yards on 10 attempts and added another 12 yards on three receptions in the losing effort. Chad Owens continued his unprecedented push towards 4,000 combined yards as he accounted for 148 yards overall, but factored little into his team's offensive plans in the contest.

Owens, who is the first professional football player to register three straight seasons with at least 3,000 combined yards, has a total of 3,157 yards on the season at the moment, close to 1,000 more than his closest competitor. Having shown that he can break a game open with his speed and elusiveness, Owens has become much more of a factor on offense for the Argonauts in 2012 and is actually third in the league in receiving right now with 79 catches for 1,054 yards, leading to five touchdowns.

Unfortunately for Owens, his efforts on offense might end up dropping off in the final games of the season due to starting quarterback Ricky Ray being sent to the injured list and the team having to compete with backup signal-callers. Before going out Ray had completed better than 68 percent of his pass attempts for nearly 3,400 yards, although his 12 touchdowns against 10 interceptions wasn't exactly how he envisioned his first year with the Argos after coming over from Edmonton.

As a group, Toronto is third in the league in total passing yards with 3,889, but the unit's mere 14 TD passes is second-lowest in the CFL through 14 games.

On the other side, what else can you say about Calvillo that hasn't already been said? He again leads the league in passing yards with 4,244 and is second in aerial TDs with 27 as he continues to defy years of action as the most successful passing quarterback in the history of the CFL. Certainly Calvillo would prefer to limit his mistakes (11 INTs) and better his accuracy (.607), but the fact that he gets up for game after game is rather remarkable at his age.

These teams split the first two meetings of the season, with Toronto slipping by the Als on the road, 23-20, back in late July and then Montreal returning the favor in a 31-10 final last month. As a result of those decisions, Montreal has now won four of the last five encounters and built its advantage in the all-time series to 107-83-3 since 1946.

Calvillo is not accustomed to losing games in bulk, so expect to see the Als put all the pieces in place for a much-needed win on the road this week.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montreal 28, Toronto 17

10/10 10:49:24 ET

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