TORONTO ARGONAUTS AT MONTREAL ALOUETTES
In our CFL team preview on the Montreal Alouettes we expressed some concern about quarterback Anthony Calvillo due to his age (38) and his off season cancer surgery. Forget we ever said anything. On some level our concern was definitely justified since there’s no shortage of veteran quarterbacks throughout NFL and CFL history that hang around a few years too long (see Favre, Brett). Of course few quarterbacks at any level of football have the toughness and heart of Calvillo. All Calvillo did last week was throw five touchdown passes to four different receivers and in the process tie Damon Allen for most TD passes in CFL history. He’s also 67 completions behind Allen’s record in that category (5,158) and could tie his record for most passing yardage by the end of the season as well—he’s 3,481 yards shy. In other words, Calvillo is not only fine he’s playing some of the best football of his career at the moment—and when you’re arguably the best quarterback in CFL history that’s saying something.
Were this a matchup of ‘offense vs. offense’ this game would be a complete mismatch. Cleo Lemon hasn’t been disastrous this season, though the Argos offensive line has. Lemon threw for 248 yards and 1 INT last week in a 22-16 road loss to Winnipeg. He ran for a touchdown but for that matter he was ‘on the run’ all night due to the shoddy protection in front of him. Ultimately, the Blue Bombers sacked him 7 times. Year to date, Toronto has only scored 39 points which is the second fewest in the CFL. Montreal has scored 69 points. That’s a per game average of 19.5 for Toronto vs. 34.5 for Montreal and that’s not a particularly good sign for the Argos. Making matters worse for Toronto this week will be the absence of running back Cory Boyd. Rookie Chad Kackert will start in his place and although he showed a lot of promise in the preseason at this stage of his career that’s a huge downgrade at the position.
Of course you’re not going to make a lot of money in the longterm in pro football—Canadien or American—by laying double digit spreads. Making that even more problematic in this case is the less than stellar play of the Montreal defense. The Alouettes have been winning despite their defense—on paper their 25.5 PPG allowed doesn’t look bad and gives them the third best scoring defense in the CFL. Montreal is 1-1 ATS this year, but the defense has made the offense work harder than necessary. The Als pulled away from Saskatchewan late last week while in their opening game they opened up a big halftime lead against BC with the Montreal defense letting the Lions back in the game in the second half. Long story short, we have no doubt that Calvillo and the Montreal offense can put points on the board but we’re not confident in the ability of the Als’ defense to keep even Toronto’s sputtering attack out of the end zone. In fact, if we had to take a side position we’d ‘hold our nose’ and take Toronto plus the points.
Instead of a side play, however, we’ll take a position on the total. Toronto’s offensive struggles give us a reasonable total to work with and the combination of the Alouettes’ high octane offense, a Toronto defense breaking in some new faces due to injury and Montreal’s own defensive woes has us thinking Over. If your book offers individual team totals we really like Toronto Over 21′–that’s just 2 points more than their YTD average and with Boyd out we expect Cleo Lemon to test the porous Montreal secondary early and often. The Montreal team total is 31′ and we like the Over there as well. Our official play, however, is on the game Over 53′. We expect both teams to put points on the board and that’ll leave the back door open for Toronto.
Bet Montreal/Toronto Over 53′
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