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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 three-game slides.

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 single interception.

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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