CFL Preview - Montreal (11-6) at Winnipeg (5-12)|
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Nov. 3, 3 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: With the postseason no longer a possibility, the Winnipeg Blue
Bombers finish out the string as they meet up with the Montreal Alouettes in
the regular-season finale on Saturday afternoon at Canad Inns Stadium.
By virtue of their loss to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last weekend, 28-18, the
Blue Bombers took themselves out of playoff contention as they dropped their
second game in the last three outings. Even though it doesn't have any bearing
on the immediate future, the Bombers are having trouble identifying their
starting quarterback for this week with Buck Pierce being sidelined.
Obviously, the Blue Bombers would like to finish a disappointing season on a
positive note, but they are also using this opportunity to assess their
current talent and figure out what their needs might be moving forward.
Not only does Winnipeg head coach Tim Burke have to make a decision between
Alex Brink or Joey Elliott as his starter this weekend, he also has to sort
out how much playing time key performers need and when/if he can insert others
who are further down on the depth chart. One of those players would be
quarterback Justin Goltz who has a grand total of just nine pass attempts
since joining the Bombers back in 2010.
Judging by how erratic the offense has been this season for the Blue Bombers,
due to injury more than anything else, the question might be why would Burke
put anyone out there who isn't 100 percent healthy. With nothing on the line,
this is a perfect opportunity to see Goltz and others in actual game
conditions rather than the preseason where the talent level fluctuates greatly
from week to week and team to team.
After 17 games the Bombers are last in the league in overall passing with
4,308 yards and have far more interceptions (22) than aerial touchdowns (16),
resulting in just a 74.8 efficiency rating.
Over on the other side, Montreal has come on strong with three straight wins
and five victories in the least seven outings. The Alouettes have played well
enough to seal up the top spot in the East Division with a record of 11-6,
thanks mostly to the exploits of quarterback Anthony Calvillo yet again.
In the narrow 27-25 home win over Edmonton last weekend, Calvillo completed
21-of-35 passes for 321 yards and two touchdowns, although he was also picked
off twice. Backup quarterback Adrian McPherson contributed to the scoring with
his one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter as well.
While it wasn't quite enough to alter the outcome, the Montreal defense went
to sleep in the fourth quarter as they gave up three touchdowns as backup
quarterback Matt Nichols converted just nine of his 15 pass attempts for a
huge 230 yards and all three scores.
With his effort against the Eskimos, Calvillo reached 5,000 passing yards for
the season, the first player in league history to reach that lofty total in
seven different seasons during his career. Calvillo, who currently has the
most passing yards in the league and leads Hamilton's Henry Burris by 212
yards heading into the final week of the season, could also tie Doug Flutie
with a total of five seasons in which he has paced the league in passing, one
behind the record held by both Ron Lancaster and Sam Etcheverry.
However, now comes word that the Alouettes plan to sit Calvillo since they've
already carved out their spot in the playoffs, which means McPherson will be
the primary under center for Montreal against Winnipeg.
Even though the two teams might not have anything to really play for this
week, some individual players do have some goals that they can achieve, one of
them being Montreal receiver Jamel Richardson. While a recap of the game
between the Als and Eskimos notes that Richardson has eclipsed the 1,000-yard
receiving mark for the fifth straight year, there seems to be a few
discrepancies from several sources.
Richardson's own stats say he caught three passes for 44 yards to give him 59
grabs for 993 yards for the season, but the stats released by the league
earlier this week state that he is ninth in the league in receiving yards with
998 yards on 60 catches. Needless to say, it might be prudent to leave no
doubt and for McPherson to get the ball to Richardson several times just to be
These two squads met up less than a month ago in Montreal where the Blue
Bombers slipped by with a 27-22 victory in order to snap a two-game slide in
the series. Nevertheless, the Als still own a 45-35-2 edge, taking into
consideration only regular-season bouts, dating back to 1946.
If the defense for the Alouettes doesn't know who to plan for at quarterback
it might just give Winnipeg a slight edge this week, but not enough for the
Bombers to earn the upset.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Montreal 24, Winnipeg 18
10/31 11:28:40 ET