Do the Alouettes have a prayer in Cowtown?

On paper, this game between the Montreal Alouettes and Calgary Stampeders likely shouldn’t even be played.

You will not find two teams going in two totally different directions. Calgary hasn’t tasted defeat since JUNE. We are talking literally months since they were last in the loss column. With an elite quarterback like Bo Levi Mitchell, talented receivers galore, a monster back in Jerome Messam and a defense that can make life miserable for any quarterback in this league, this Calgary team is literally on another level.

While Montreal has a team that may or may not have mentally thrown in the towel on this season. With a quarterback that plays more cold than hot and an offense that simply has trouble being consistent game in and game out. Yes, Montreal’s defense is still their bread and butter but even that group has had their share of misery this season. Possibly because it seems like they are expected to score points as well in order to supplant the anemic offense.

Yes, on paper it does seem like a waste of time for both these teams to play this Saturday. Why risk injury to either side? Especially for Calgary, who already punched their ticket all the way to the Western Final with their unbelievable play this season. Montreal still has a fighting chance to make the playoffs despite their poor play and numerous losses. Even more incredible is that even if they lose on Saturday, the Alouettes still cannot be eliminated from playoff contention this weekend.

With all that in mind, can the Alouettes possibly shock the world and end their seven year losing streak at McMahon Stadium?

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One thing is for certain; If Montreal expects to even compete in this game, they have GOT to keep Rakeem Cato upright. He has been sacked an ungodly 15 times since he took over the starting quarterback role. A few of those sacks could have been avoided had Cato been able to get rid of the ball sooner, but the O-Line has to be held accountable.

I’m more than aware that this is a relatively young unit that is missing the on-field guidance of Luc Brodeur-Jourdain on a full-time basis. Perhaps Jim Popp would have been wise to find a way to bring in another experienced offensive lineman after training camp ended instead of forcing both Jacob Ruby and Philippe Gagnon along before they were ready.

A lot of faith was put into this young line and while you can’t pin all the offensive woes on them, they have got to get better at giving their quarterback time in the pocket. And on Saturday, these youngsters will have their hands full.

One name on Calgary’s defense that has really stood out in recent weeks has been Alex Singleton. With 28 defensive tackles in his last 5 games as well some outstanding play on special teams, this National talent will be looking to feast on Montreal. Also looking to add to his sack tally is Charleston Hughes, who is leading the league in that category and has to be licking his chops at the prospect of driving the Alouettes’ second year pivot into the ground.

Alouettes head coach Jacques Chapdelaine has shied away from the run numerous times in his career as an offensive coordinator and hasn’t veered from that as a head coach. I expect him to do likewise against a strong Stampeders run defense despite having Brandon Rutley in the backfield. Rutley can certainly move the mall with his feet, but he will likely be asked to act as a human shield for his lithe quarterback.

Montreal will try to win this game in the air. And if the game this past Monday against Edmonton was any indication, it’s a strategy that may be their undoing yet again.

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Let’s say the absolutely impossible happens and the Alouettes win this game. How does it affect their Grey Cup playoff hopes?

Ottawa and Hamilton start the first game in a home and home series that could well decide first place in the East. The winner of this game will clinch a playoff spot if both Montreal and Toronto lose their games. A crossover would also be assured as well and the race would get a LOT tighter, as the four Eastern teams would now be vying for only two playoff spots in their own division.

Ottawa does hold a slight advantage thanks to their tie game with Calgary.It seems weird, but it may be better for Alouettes fans to hope that the Redblacks sweep the series versus Hamilton and clinch first place in the East. In doing so, they can just focus on beating Saskatchewan (now eliminated from the playoffs), Calgary at home (where Montreal always seems to win somehow) and in Hamilton (having played three very tough games).

To summarize, Montreal isn’t dead yet. But they have got to find a win desperately, hopefully against a Calgary team that has nothing left to prove to anyone.

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So can they do it? Can the Alouettes catch everyone by surprise and halt the Stampeders’ undefeated run?

My head says no, but what makes the CFL so great is that literally ANYTHING is possible. Here’s hoping for an entertaining game nonetheless.

Enjoy the game Saturday, regardless of where you watch it.

GO ALS GO!!!

 

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