LIVESTREAM PPV: CFL- Calgary Stampeders @Montreal Alouettes, Oct. 8, 1p (7p CET)

MONTREAL — The Montreal Alouettes face a must-win situation on Thanksgiving Monday, when they host the Calgary Stampeders at Percival Molson Stadium in Montreal.

At 3-11, Mike Sherman’s Als are running out of breathing room; the magic number for Montreal is a single point either dropped by the Alouettes or gained by anybody in the West Division.

Dave Dickenson’s Calgary team is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum; at 11-2, the Stamps are four points clear with a game in-hand on their closest divisional opponent (Saskatchewan).

While it’s been a tale of two very different seasons in Calgary and Montreal, recent history states that Monday’s contest may not be as cut-and-dried as it looks on the surface; the Stamps have dropped just eight regular-season games since 2016 — two of them at Molson Stadium.

It seems like ages since the Stampeders dispatched Toronto 38-16 last Friday, and Dickenson’s group is understandably raring to get back on the field and take another step towards home-field advantage in the West Division.

After surviving a few weeks of serious injury absences, the Stamps will get a number of key faces back on both sides of the ball.

Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell is excited about the return of centre Ucambre Williams and leading receiver Eric Rogers to the fold offensively.

“The last couple weeks it’s been the other way, (we’ve been) losing a lot of guys,” Mitchell told Stampeders.com. “To see those two leaders that are vocal (is good), and Eric helps push the ball downfield and Ucambre controls the inside well.”

As for the challenge posed by Montreal’s decent defensive unit, Mitchell and co. know what to expect.

“They’re a team that tackles well, they blitz well (and) try to play the number game and never get outnumbered, so we’ve got to get out there and see what they do,” said Mitchell. “We have to react to the things they do, play well and hit our shots when they’re there.”

Defensively, the Stamps have Ciante Evans back in their secondary and Cordarro Law re-entering on the line.

“Ciante back is huge on the back end, (and) it’s nice having Law back, he’s one of those veteran, older guys that’s been doing it for a long time,” said star Calgary linebacker Alex Singleton. “Things happened the last few years here (in Montreal), that’s fine. We’re here to win a football game.”

Key to the success of Singleton and the defence will be stopping William Stanback and the Montreal run game.

“Like every week, you (try to) take the running out of the game (and) make them one-dimensional,” continued Singleton. “They’re a good team, but if you can stop them and make a QB beat you, in any game, it benefits the D.

“He’s a big physical guy, he’s kinda like a (James) Wilder. He’s bigger, 6-foot-2, 6-foot-3 and 220. It’s not a small shifty guy — he’s just going to try to run you over.”

It’s win-or-go home time for the Alouettes, and a win on Monday would still be no guarantee Montreal will have a playoff life to battle for come Week 18.

While the team did make progress in last week’s five-point loss at home against Saskatchewan, close is not good enough in pro football — especially after the first half the Als suffered through this season.

“I felt like we did some good things, but you look at the scoreboard walking out of the stadium and you still lost by five,” quarterback Johnny Manziel told MontrealAlouettes.com. “That’s the only thing that matters right now: Finding wins in the last four weeks of the season.”

While Manziel’s improvisational skills served the team well last week — the Texas A&M product completed nine of 16 passes for 138 yards and a pair of touchdowns — Head Coach Mike Sherman would prefer to see his offensive line shore up and allow the team’s offence to run properly.

“He’s forced to improvise,” said Sherman, “and I’d rather we become a little bit more in the system as opposed to being in the backyard playing ball.”

The Alouettes will have some roster shuffling for Monday’s contest, with leading receiver B.J. Cunninghamand offensive lineman Tony Washington both landing on the six-game injured list this week.

Washington’s absence will allow Luc Brodeur-Jourdain to make his first start of the season; the 35 year-old is relishing the opportunity.

“Football’s a team sport, and I know my role,” said the Laval product and 10th-year pro. “It’s my chance to show, to my teammates and organization, that I still have what it takes to play.”

T.J. Graham, who was released earlier this season only to be brought back by General Manager Kavis Reed, will slot into Cunningham’s spot.

“It’s hard not to see B.J. out there, with how consistent he’s been throughout the year,” said Manziel. “But T.J.’s looked well, (and) we’ve had a good week of practice.”

By The Numbers:

0 – As good as Bo Levi Mitchell has been on the road in his career (29-8-2), the Calgary pivot is 0-2 at Molson Stadium.

29 – Season-high points scored by Montreal in last week’s loss against the Riders;

53 – Sacks allowed by the Alouettes this season, 19 more than any other team in the CFL. Montreal has allowed five or more sacks in each of its last four games — the first time that’s happened in club history.

75 – First-quarter points allowed by Calgary this season; the Stamps have allowed just 3.6 first-quarter points in wins, but 17.5 in their two losses. A quick start is clearly a major key to success against the league’s best team.

With the weather firmly turned towards fall, the importance of games in the CFL is correspondingly increased.

Calgary can lock up a home playoff date — and take another sizeable step towards a first-place finish — with a win on Thanksgiving Monday.

Montreal is playing for its playoff life, and even that is not guaranteed beyond the end of the first game of Monday’s doubleheader.

At this point, both teams want to continue building momentum: The Stamps for what will likely be another deep playoff run, and the Als for 2019.

As lopsided a matchup as it is on paper, recent history dictates nobody should write this one off.

– With files from Stampeders.com/MontrealAlouettes.com

AFI, Yare Media and the CFL

American Football International is collaborating with Yare Media and the Canadian Football League to present 2018 CFL games live. This is more than a livestream. This is a stream of the top flight TSN network television broadcast.

LIVE STREAM PPV: CFL – Calgary Stampeders @Montreal Alouettes, Oct. 8, 1p (7p CET)

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