Saturday the 9-6 Alouettes come to town to take on the 8-7 Riders. Despite all the preseason hype about how this would be the year that the East was strong, the Als have all but locked up first place while we are still fighting for third despite them having only one more win than us (maybe we should petition the league to move us to the East division... never mind that would have the downside of having to spend more time in Winnipeg).
By this point in the season, it’s no surprise that injuries are a big topic for both teams. For the Riders it’s a mixed bag of news, Shologan and Hawkins should be back but now it looks like Xavier Fulton may miss his first start of the season (up until now he’s been the only OL to play every game). Given that we really haven’t talked about Fulton since we traded for him, it’s pretty obvious that he has been doing a solid job on tackle. Given that Montreal currently leads the league in sacks this is certainly a concern. Guess we have to hope Asiata can step in and get the job done.
As for Montreal, it’s pretty much just bad news. SJ Green is still out and now you can add Victor Anderson and Brandon London to the IR. At the start of the season, Montreal had more receiving depth than it knew what to do with, now they are struggling to find 12 people healthy enough to start on offense.
One guy who is healthy though is old man Calvillo and regardless of who he is throwing to that will pose difficulties to our defense. That said the prospect of having to cover the likes of Deslauriers and Bowling certainly doesn’t scare me as much as London and Green. The Als have the league’s worst running game and are down to their 3rd string running back so you can bet they will be throwing... a lot. While we still need to respect the run (Jennings showed some flashes last game) but we should have a lot more ability to focus on harassing Calvillo with the pass rush. I don’t care if he’s throwing to Bonhomme Carnival and Helen Keller... if he has time in the pocket he will be dangerous. Having a full complement of starters on back on the DL will help. With a ton of new receivers, Calvillo will likely be keying in on the more familiar Richardson and Bratton. So if we can keep them in check I don’t see a cast of unknowns carving us up. Last game was an aberration for the D, I’m counting on a bounce back game.
A few interesting facts about the Als offense:
- Jamel Richardson only has 6 more yards than Getzlaf this season
- Despite the fact that Montreal in near the bottom of the league in INTs thrown, Calvillo hasn’t thrown this many picks in 4 years.
- Montreal has only scored 9 more points than us this season
The Alouette defense is vulnerable but dangerous if you take them too lightly. They are very strong up front. They lead the league in sacks and have the #2 run defense. Jon Bowman leads the front 4 (and quite frankly scares me regardless of which tackle he is matched up against now that Fulton is doubtful). Their linebackers are also very dangerous. Rod Davis leads the team in INTs, Shea Emry leads in both tackles and sacks and it’s always just a good policy to be wary of Cox.
Their secondary however, is not so good. No team has allowed more passing TDs this season. About the only that scares me about the Als secondary is the hitting of Hebert. If the O-line can give Durant some time he should be able to exploit them for big yards. Despite their strong run D we need to stay committed to the run with Sheets to help slow down the pass rush. You can bet Hebert will be tracking Dressler all game looking to inflict some pain. We should be able to use pre-snap motion and Dressler’s speed to get him open regardless. Receivers like Smith and Getzlaf need to be reliable to help keep the D on its toes (yes this is what this season has reduced me too... relying on Smith and Getz). Maybe the ghost of Greg Carr will make an appearance... but based on how things have been going so far I wouldn’t count on it.
Last time we hung in there with the Als despite starting Drew Willy and playing in Montreal. This time we have Durant back, they are missing a ton of offensive weapons and we are playing at home. Montreal is always tough to play, I predict a couple turnovers on our part, a halftime lead that we squander but ultimately as crazy as it is to say, this time around I think we are the better team.
Riders by a Dressler TD (because really who else is going to get a receiving TD?)
See you in the stands! Be loud! Swear in French!