CFL Preview - Winnipeg (2-12) at Montreal (6-8)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Monday, October 14, 1 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: Despite all the struggles they've gone through this season, the
Montreal Alouettes have a chance to lock up a spot in the 101st Grey Cup
Playoffs when they tangle with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Monday afternoon
at Molson Stadium.
Even before losing star quarterback Anthony Calvillo to injury the Als were
experiencing sub par performances, to the point where they let go first-year
head coach Dan Hawkins just weeks into the campaign. The squad suffered
through a stretch where they lost five of six games and have twice built
Nevertheless, with the way that the rest of the league has played there is
still a chance for Montreal to get into the postseason, thanks in part to a
current two-game win streak. The squad followed up a 17-12 victory over
Saskatchewan on Sept. 29 with a surprising 47-24 romp over Edmonton last week
in order to put themselves in position for a potential playoff appearance.
Josh Neiswander picked up his second win as the quarterback for the Alouettes
when he guided the team to an overwhelming win at Commonwealth Stadium.
Neiswander converted 15-of-25 pass attempts for 251 yards and four touchdowns,
managing the game to the point where he was sacked just once and tossed only a
Arland Bruce showed signs of life as he reeled in four passes for 101 yards
and two scores, the other two aerial majors going to S.J. Green who has three
receptions for 30 yards during the impressive victory.
Taking some of the pressure off Neiswander was a rushing attack that generated
188 yards and two TDs on 25 carries, the touchdowns coming from Tyrell Sutton
and backup quarterback Troy Smith.
Montreal is still two games under .500 overall and sitting in third place in
the East Division standings, but because both Winnipeg and Edmonton have been
so brutal this season, it is looking more and more like the Alouettes will be
playing beyond the conclusion of the regular season.
As for the Blue Bombers, they had no answer for Calgary running back Jon
Cornish during Week 15 action as the ball carrier posted 208 yards and two
touchdowns on 17 carries during a commanding 38-11 victory for the Stampeders.
Winnipeg's offense made very little impact in the outing, the team's fourth
straight setback and the 11th in the last 12 decisions overall for the group,
in fact the only touchdown for the Bombers came courtesy of Will Ford who
brought back a kickoff 100 yards in the third quarter.
Ford did have some nifty moves coming out of the backfield as well, rolling up
156 yards on just 11 carries, thanks to one 70-yard scamper, but in the end it
made little difference for a team which is buried at the bottom of the
standings with a mere two wins overall in 14 opportunities.
Quarterback Max Hall did very little to establish himself as a viable option
at the position moving beyond this season as he converted just 15 of his 34
passes for 147 yards, tossing one interception and being sacked once. But
perhaps more of a concern should be the manner in which the Winnipeg defense
surrendered a whopping 622 yards of total offense to the Stampeders.
A day after yet another monumental loss, the Blue Bombers announced that they
had traded defensive end Alex Hall to the Saskatchewan Roughriders for
offensive tackle Patrick Neufeld and a 4th-round pick in the 2015 CFL Draft.
One of only a handful of players who could command any real value as a trade
commodity, Hall heads to Saskatchewan as the league leader in sacks this
season with 15, one of only three players in the league with double-digit
quarterback takedowns at this stage.
With Hall out the door, the next best pass rusher for the Blue Bombers is
Bryant Turner who has less than half the number of sacks with just seven.
From a defensive standpoint, Winnipeg is already last in the league in how
often they allow opponents to complete passes (68 percent) and the number of
points they are giving up (32.8 ppg) on a regular basis, so you have to assume
that those numbers will not improve now that Hall has been moved.
With respect to the all-time series between these two squads, one that takes
into account only regular-season matchups dating back to 1961, Montreal owns a
46-37-2 edge over the Bombers. However, it was Winnipeg that won the most
recent encounter on July 4 in a 19-11 final on the road.
Winnipeg has won three of the last four encounters, but the squads have split
the last six meetings overall.
The trade of Hall is a clear indication that Winnipeg is looking beyond this
season already. Sure, the Bombers don't have a bright outlook with only a few
weeks remaining in the regular season, but they've essentially thrown in the
towel and Montreal should jump all over that, given how much is on the line
for the Alouettes this week.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montreal 31, Winnipeg 20
10/09 11:17:22 ET
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