CFL Semis-Sunday: Montreal Alouettes vs. Edmonton Eskimos

The CFL postseason is reaching its climax this Sunday as we march ever closer to the Grey Cup.

The Blue Bombers are at the top of the boards at sites like Betonline to win the Grey Cup. But first Winnipeg has to get through the Calgary Stampeders … then face the winner of the showdown between the Alouettes and Eskimos.

A Brief History in the Alouettes

The playoffs are like no other. Fans love it and teams live for it. A big mistake early on in the year is often forgettable … but a huge foul-up that gets you knocked out of the playoffs can haunt teams, players, and fans alike, for years to come.

The Montreal Alouettes are a great example of moving on from regular-season – and pre-season– woes. Montreal has been in shambles for the past couple of years. And 2019 started out looking no different. Mike Sherman got the can just before the beginning of the season and Khari Jones got the job with literally no time to prepare. ON top of this, the Alouettes GM was also canned early in the season, so the team seemed doomed for another year of failure.

Over the last couple of seasons, the Alouettes have a horrendous record. IN 2017 and 2018 combined, Montreal only won 8 games and lost 28. They finally turned it around this year with a 10-8 record and they’ll be hosting their first postseason game in five years.

Als QB, Vernon Adams Jr. had a breakout year that led Montreal back to the promised land. The former Oregon Duck star has thrown for 3942 yards on 431 attempts, getting 283 completions along with 24 TDs! His four previous years in the league have been tenuous at best. In 2017 he had minimal impact, and in 2018 after just two games, he was added to the IR list. But something has been sparked in the still-young QB and he has proven that the Alouettes decision to resign him in June of 2018 was the right call.

The Flip-Side

Edmonton’s QB is a different story. Over the last three years, he has been putting up insane numbers … He’s still on the one-game injury list but it looks like he is ready to come back. If he is, in fact, healthy he adds an element that could be hard for the Als to overcome. Edmonton has won 9 out of the last 10 meetings between these two teams and a lot of that has to do with the efficient, nickel-and-dime, field marshaling of Harris. He doesn’t take risks and doesn’t go long that often, but nickels and dimes opponents with crisp, short-yard passing. This is why he only threw 11 INTs to 30 touchdowns in 2017 and 11 INTs to 22 touchdowns last season. This year he’s missed a lot of time and is still at a 16 to 6 ratio favoring the TD side of things.

Even missing 5 games he still passed for 4027 yards this year … amazing. That said, Vernon Adams has more help than Harris. His running back corps is better and he has more quality targets downfield in Quan Bray, Eugene Lewis, DeVier Posey, Chris Mathews. But games are won in the trenches and Edmonton is better upfront on both sides of the ball. The Eskimos allowed the fewest sacks in the league … and simultaneously led the CFL in sacks on defense. If they can put a lot of pressure on Vernon who’s making his first big post-season appearance … they can take this game.

The Als are scoring 26.61 points per game, this number goes against the Eskimos 22.56 a game. When it comes down to averages, both of these teams just barely outscore their opponents. So, this could end up a close one, depending on the realistic status of Trevor Harris. If Harris plays, that is great … but is he actually healthy and at 100 percent? The Als have a healthy QB and are playing inspired football, so I give the edge to them in this one.

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