CFL Preview - Montreal (9-6) at Saskatchewan (8-7)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 20, 3:30 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: Secure in the fact that they've carved out a spot in the postseason for the 17th straight year, the Montreal Alouettes try to continue their drive towards the best overall mark in the East Division this weekend as they clash with the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
One of the more dominant teams in the league for the last several years, the Alouettes are the only team in the division at the moment with a winning record, even though they were in danger of possibly losing a third straight game last week when they clashed with Toronto on the road. However, Montreal managed to pick up a second straight victory in the series with the Argonauts by posting a 24-12 decision at Rogers Centre.
Following a bit of a slow start that saw the Als scoreless through one period of play and having just seven points at the break, kicker Sean Whyte provided a huge spark with three field goals and a single in order to get the visitors rolling. Quarterback Anthony Calvillo connected on 16-of-31 passes for 255 yards and a score, a 75-yard delivery to Jamel Richardson who finished with just three receptions for 109 yards.
Also making a significant impact for the Alouettes was linebacker Shea Emry who not only had four tackles and a sack, he registered an interception in the fourth quarter that he returned 46 yards for a score to seal the win for the visitors. For his efforts, Emry was named both the Defensive and Canadian Player of the Week in the CFL.
As for the Roughriders, they had been one of the hottest teams in the league since the start of September, winning five of six outings after suffering through a brutal summer stretch during which they lost five in a row. The team was hoping to add to another strong run last weekend, but instead was tripped up by Edmonton on the road in a 37-20 setback.
Against the Eskimos, Saskatchewan actually scored the first points of the meeting on a two-yard touchdown pass from Darian Durant to Weston Dressler midway through the first period, but from there the Riders gave up 20 straight points to the hosts and never recovered. Durant, who sat out the final minutes of the meeting after the outcome had all but been decided, finished the contest 17-of-27 for 204 yards and two touchdowns, but he was sacked twice and had a pair of attempts picked off.
Running back Kory Sheets delivered a decent 77 yards on 12 carries for the visitors, but it was barely half of what his counterpart, Edmonton's Hugh Charles (152 yards) was able to accomplish.
Now second in the league in rushing with 1,112 yards on 204 carries, leading to nine majors which is also second in the CFL for running backs, Sheets has cooled off as of late when it comes to making it into the end zone. In fact, the back has crossed the goal line just once in his last five games, which is a far cry from his efforts early on when he recorded at least one TD in five straight outings and had six scores overall to kick off the 2012 campaign.
Some might say the emergence of Dressler in recent weeks has helped to balance the scales for the Riders. Tied for the most overall receptions in the league (88) and first in both yards (1,161) and touchdowns (11), Dressler has landed in the end zone in four straight games, five times overall during the stretch for a Saskatchewan passing attack that has an efficiency rating of 94.8.
Speaking of efficiency rating, as the man who is responsible for all but two of his team's 4,501 yards through the air, Calvillo has a mark of 99.1 as he has thrown at least one TD pass in every game this season and is currently second in the league with 28 TD strikes overall. However, in each of the last five games Calvillo has completed less than 54.0 percent of his pass attempts, something that happened only once during his previous 10 outings in 2012. You hate to think about it, but you have to consider the fact that Calvillo isn't getting any younger and maybe his body is beginning to betray him in this his 19th season, the 15th with the Alouettes.
Saskatchewan won the first and only other meeting of the season between these two teams, capturing a 27-24 victory on the road in Montreal. Despite the setback, the Als still lead the overall regular-season series by a count of 35-29-1.
Both of these teams need to pile on the wins in the final weeks of the regular season, if for no other reason than to feel good about themselves when the playoffs finally roll around. As dominant as Calvillo has been in his career, it seems the signal-caller is finally beginning to slow down and that could open the door for Durant and the Roughriders this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Saskatchewan 31, Montreal 24
10/17 11:46:54 ET