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CFL Preview - Montreal (7-10) at Toronto (11-6)

From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Friday, November 1, 7 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: Champions of the East Division and the reigning Grey Cup title holders, the Toronto Argonauts finish off the regular season on Friday night as they host the Montreal Alouettes at Rogers Centre.

Last year, the Argos were an unlikely champion who finished just 9-9 during the regular season, winning only three of their final eight regular season bouts, but that just goes to show how anything is possible once the postseason begins.

This time around Toronto enters the final week of the regular season with back-to-back victories and wins in six of the last eight contests in order to take over the division.

Against Winnipeg last Thursday night, Ricky Ray was unstoppable as he converted 39-of-45 passes for a career-high 505 yards and three touchdowns as the Argos crushed the Blue Bombers in a 36-21 decision. At one point Ray, who had missed several games due to injury before making his return, connected on a team-record 21 straight passes, while his 39 connections also set a new club standard as well.

For his efforts, Ray was named the CFL Offensive Player of the Week, the third time he has captured the honor this season and the fourth time in his Toronto career.

Because the Argos were able to lock up the division title, head coach Scott Milanovich made the early decision to keep Ray out of the final regular season game which means the signal caller, who won't return to the field until Nov. 17 at Rogers Centre, will break the CFL's single-season mark for completion percentage (.777), formerly held by Dave Dickenson at 73.98 percent.

Also coming back strong for Toronto was Chad Owens who set game highs with 11 receptions and 105 yards. The all-everything performer also accounted for 82 yards on five kickoff returns and brought back five punts for an additional 39 yards as well.

Even though he missed time due to injury, Owens is still the leader in the league as far as receptions are concerned with 94, leading to 979 yards, but it is somewhat puzzling to find that he has scored only twice on all of those catches. Owens again leads the league in combined yards as well with 2,298, 155 yards ahead of Calgary's Jon Cornish.

Romby Bryant, playing in just his second game for Toronto, reeled in eight passes for 80 yards and two touchdowns, proving he too can be a valued threat down the field for Ray and the Argos offense.

As for the Alouettes, last week they battled the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for the second time in a span of just six days and went from blowing up Hamilton on Oct. 20 by a score of 36-5 at home, to falling by a field goal, 27-24, on the road.

In that latest meeting, played in front of barely 13,000 at Guelph's Alumni Stadium, former Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith made his second start for the Als and threw for 340 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but that still wasn't enough to get Montreal over the hump. Smith converted 23-of-39 passes and was picked off twice in the setback.

Duron Carter and S.J. Green helped Smith along the way as they both caught six balls for more than 100 yards and a TD, while running back Tyrell Sutton led the charge on the ground with his game-high 101 yards on 16 carries.

Defensively, the Als limited Hamilton to just 323 yards of offense and Geoff Tisdale made the 'Cats pay in the first quarter as he picked off a Henry Burris pass and returned it 64 yards for a score.

Even with all the changes at quarterback this season for the Alouettes, the one constant on offense has been the play of Green who is currently second in the league in receiving yards with 1,183, and has turned his 83 catches into a league-best 13 majors.

In terms of the all-time series between these two squads, Montreal owns a 109-85-3 advantage in regular-season matchups dating back to 1946. However, Toronto won the most recent battle in early September by a score of 37-30 on the road, and has now taken two of the last three encounters.

Regardless of how this meeting plays out, both teams know what they'll be doing next week with Montreal being pitted against Hamilton in the playoff semifinals and Toronto sitting back waiting for the victor of that clash to arise so they can compete on Nov. 17 back here at Rogers Center. With that said, don't expect the teams to take many chances with key personnel, but still expect to see the Argonauts come out on top.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toronto 28, Montreal 25

10/30 10:51:07 ET

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