Winning two straight games prior to the bye week really bolstered the collective spirit of both the Montreal Alouettes roster and its fans. Coming off a bye week, the Als take on the Lions at home; another chance to keep the streak going. Here are five things to watch for the rest of the way.
While only 3-8 on the season, Montreal has vaulted back into a chase for a postseason berth. Currently, Montreal is in third place (albeit tied with Toronto) in the East Division. But the Bombers have two more wins, having played one more game. So the crossover would leave the Als out of the playoffs for the moment. But the schedule lines up nicely for them. This week they take on the West Division last place dwellers in B.C. Then, the team visits the Bombers. In other words, winning the next two weeks can go a long way towards climbing into a postseason position. Realistically, I think Montreal has to go 6-1 to make the playoffs, with 5-2 most likely leaving them out.
Will Johnny play football?
Mr. Manziel hasn’t practiced this week due to a stomach virus and now he’s griping about playing time. But Antonio Pipkin would have played anyway versus the Lions this week. But it begs the question: have we seen the last of Manziel in the CFL? No doubt Montreal isn’t interested in paying Manziel big bucks if Pipkin is for real. Add in the fact that Johnny has options in the Alliance of American Football in 2019 and the XFL in 2020, and he may just want out at the end of the season.
Is Antonio Pipkin for real? After three solid starts, is there now enough game film on him that defences will now be able to better game plan and defend against him? Or can Pipkin adjust and remain an effective CFL starter? It really remains to be seen. But if he does win his next two starts, I don’t see him riding the bench again the rest of the way.
Despite the absence of Tyrell Sutton, Montreal has had an effective rushing attack over the last few weeks. Can they keep it going? First it was William Stanback, a large tailback who loves to punish defenders. Then in his absence it was Ryder Stone with a surprising contribution against Ottawa. Who gets more rushing attempts and can they remain successful in order to help Pipkin move the offence? We’ll find out.
The Alouettes are struggling badly at the box office. While Molson Stadium’s capacity is north of 25,000, the team isn’t getting close to 20K. But winning is supposed to cure all ills. So we’ll see if the fans begin coming back with the promise of a more competitive team.
Head coach Mike Sherman and his staff have been much maligned for questionable clock management and play-calling this season. Can they clean things up and keep the team moving in the right direction? The many skeptics will say no. But the optimists will say that Sherman can only get better as a CFL coach.
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