If the Montreal Alouettes want to eliminate any remaining doubt of their legitimacy, they will need to play some pretty outstanding football this Saturday.
On Saturday, they will defend the nest against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who are arguably the best all-around team in the Canadian Football League. Like every team this season, they’ve hit a few speed bumps along the way but a 9-3 record and alone on top of the West is nothing to sneeze at.
The biggest challenge thus far this season has been the absence of their starting quarterback Matt Nichols, who was playing some of his best football until he was sidelined. His backup Chris Streveler has stepped in and has done a decent job so far in keeping the Bombers on track.
Streveler is no stranger to Percival Molson Stadium; he played in last season’s home opener and led Winnipeg to a convincing win against a listless Montreal team. In that game (and I use that term loosely), Streveler racked 246 yards and three touchdowns while the Alouettes were chasing their tail. Suffice to say, this will hopefully be a more competitive matchup.
The Blue Bombers will also have Andrew Harris back in the lineup, fresh off a two game suspension for testing positive for PEDs. Harris missed the Labour Day Classic and Banjo Bowl as a result and if he wasn’t already coming in with a chip on his shoulder, some fiery comments from members of the Alouettes will certainly stoke the flame.
And if that wasn’t enough…..here comes John Bowman with some heat:
So it’s safe to say that Harris, a guy who’s actually very pleasant to talk to off the field, will not be lacking motivation in this tilt. Especially since Bowman will be one of the guys expected to stop Andrew in his tracks.
In order for Montreal to win, they will have to have their offense firing on all cylinders, not settling for field goals and hoping their opponents implode. This Winnipeg defense is truly dangerous. Willie Jefferson has been putting up some ridiculous numbers, including 11 QB sacks and six forced fumbles. He will do everything he can to get in Vernon Adams‘ grill on Saturday.
Adams will be leaning heavily on his receivers, especially former Bomber Chris Matthews. In his Alouettes debut, Matthews caught a spectacular 43 yard pass from Adams to give the Alouettes great field position in the red zone. He should be motivated to face the team that let him go just over a month ago, ironically for his inability to make big plays happen.
Eugene Lewis will be looking to repeat his tremendous performance from last week and he will get a lot of attention from Winnipeg ballhawks Marcus Sayles and Winston Rose, who leads the league in INTs. Vernon will still air it out, but he has to choose his targets carefully.
You know that Winnipeg will run Andrew Harris all day long and the Alouettes would be wise to get their ground game back on track. William Stanback remains a major threat, especially as he gets hit on the run. But Montreal shied away from him in the second half last week and they cannot afford to leave their workhorse in just to block for Adams.
Perhaps the biggest threat for the Alouettes will be on special teams. Janarion Grant has broken off THREE touchdowns on punt returns for the Bombers so far this season. He will be looking to take advantage of an Alouettes special teams unit that has been good, but is susceptible at the worst possible times.
If the Bombers needed any further motivation, a victory tomorrow at Percival Molson Stadium (Along with an Ottawa RedBlacks loss to the BC Lions) would clinch a spot in the 2019 Grey Cup Playoffs. While Montreal is going to want a win in order to keep their distance in the East and stay in tough with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
You want some playoff-style football in September? Well, here you go.
Also, the Alouettes will want to win for its loyal fans. Especially on Fan Appreciation day!
If you’re going to the game Saturday (With the Alouettes announcing that only a few hundred tickets are left, you probably are!), there will be a lot of prizes to be given away. Perhaps the coolest one will be if you are among the first 5000 fans in attendance. If you are, you will get to walk away with THIS beauty:
A John Bowman bobblehead, you say? Hell yeah! Complete with tinted visor and signature bracelets, you can have a mini-version of the sack master in your home or office at all times.
If you haven’t already picked up your New Era Montreal Alouettes jersey, you are in luck. For tomorrow’s game, all New Era jerseys will be 40% off! Even the custom ones in case you want to rep one of the stars on the field, they’re all going to be on sale!
There will also be a flyover featuring two helicopters from the Canadian Royal Air Force, so be sure to be in your seats before kickoff.
That’s all for now. The Alouettes got September off to a winning start and came up a bit short last week in the prairies. It’s time to start a new three game winning streak and what better test than the team that the CFL has given the best odds of making the Grey Cup game.
Between the fiery locker room comments and the cool swag available, I think Saturday afternoon on the mountain will be absolutely lit, as the kids say.
Enjoy the game Saturday afternoon, regardless of where you watch it.