LIVESTREAM PPV: CFL – Montreal Alouettes @Edmonton Eskimos, August 18, 7p (9p ET, 3a CET)

EDMONTON — The Montreal Alouettes will try to stop the Edmonton Eskimos’ high flying offence when the two teams meet on Saturday afternoon at Commonwealth Stadium.

The Als’ roller-coaster season took another loop this week when starting quarterback Johnny Manziel was placed under the CFL’s concussion protocol.

Antonio Pipkin is the next man up for the Alouettes at quarterback. The 23-year-old has seen game action just once back on Nov. 3, 2017 against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He went 2-of-9 for 14 yards. Pipkin will be the fifth quarterback the Als have started this season.

Pipkin faces a difficult situation in his first career start as the Als look to pull off a sizable upset to jump back in the East Division race. A win would certainly do that, as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are just slightly ahead in the standings at 3-5.

The 22-year-old saw his first game action late last season when he could barely complete a pass, going 2-for-9 against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. But he’s got upside, owning Tiffin University records for passing attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns, and he’s a dual-threat after rushing for 2,207 yards and 25 touchdowns in college.

Manziel’s injury is unfortunate timing given the early stages of his development in the three-down game. Yet the former Heisman Trophy winner showed progress in a 24-17 defeat at the hands of the REDBLACKS last week, following up a four-interception nightmare in his debut without any picks vs. Ottawa.

Despite being out-gained 587-241 in yards, the Alouettes led throughout much of the game before surrendering the game-winning touchdown to William Powell in the final minute.

The key this week will be protecting Pipkin in his first start, has he’ll look to use his mobility to try to extend drives and keep the Eskimos’ high-octane offence off the field. Avoiding turnovers will also be key, as the team has turned the ball over 19 times and has a turnover ratio of minus-five — second-worst in the league in both categories.

The Alouettes will have star cornerback Tommie Campbell back in the lineup after he was a scratch last weekend for what the team described as personal reasons.

Montreal has won just once in its last 19 games, and 12 of the last 13 on the road.

While the Edmonton Eskimos’ woes are not as troubling, the team is coming off of a loss they wish they could have back.

The Esks collapsed in the second half of their Week 9 matchup against the BC Lions and went on to lose 31-23. Edmonton entered the third quarter up by 10 before being outscored 31-23 in the final 30 minutes.

Mike Reilly threw 26-of-41 for 302 yards with two passing touchdowns, one rushing major and two interceptions. Derel Walker racked up a game high 117 yards on five catches and one touchdown.

The Esks gave up 132 yards on 14 penalties in the losing effort.

“You always learn more when it actually hinders you from winning a football game,” Reilly told Esks.com. “Whether it’s discipline, execution, turnovers, all that type of stuff…the Grey Cup is not won or lost in August, but the lessons that you learn are.”

There were some concerns that this week’s game would be pushed back to a later date due to smoke from wildfires in neighbouring BC blanketing Edmonton. Head coach Jason Maas says that the team is ignoring that distraction.

“As of right now, we’re focused on playing,” said Maas. “It’s not going to be a concern because if they tell us ‘we’re not,’ we’re not. If they tell us we are, we’re prepared to do it.”

The Esks will be without starting running back C.J. Gable on Saturday, who has been placed on the one-game injured list. Gable has 532 rushing yards this season, good enough for third in the league. His presence will be missed against an Alouettes squad that is giving up a league-worst 126.4 rushing yards per game on offence.

Rookie running back Shaquille Cooper will get his first CFL start in Gable’s place.

“He’s been nothing but professional in the meetings,” said Maas. “He’s worked hard in practice for this opportunity waiting for it. He just needs to go out and do his job and relax. I think he’s a very confident individual. He’s smart. He’s picked our stuff up. I think he’s going to go out and play a good game. That’s just what we want him to do. To be himself and play to his ability.”

Edmonton enters the game with a nine-game win streak over Montreal, the second longest current win streak that any one team has over another in the league.

By The Numbers:

2 – Straight road losses for the Montreal Alouettes. The Als last win away was a 23-17 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Week 3. It has been the only win of the Als season so far.

6 – League leading receiving touchdowns for Derel Walker.

15 – Average points per game scored by the Montreal Alouettes offence, the worst in the league and lowest by any CFL club since the 1979 Saskatchewan 12.1 ppg. It is the lowest by any Montreal team since 1967 when they averaged 11.9 points per game.

16 – League leading passing touchdowns for Mike Reilly.

78 – League high receiving targets for Duke Williams.

Saturday will see one of the top offences in the league go up against the worst defence in the CFL.

The Esks are spoiled with talent that starts with quarterback Mike Reilly, who leads the league in passing yards with 2,622 entering Week 10. His go-to targets Duke Williams and Derel Walker rank first and second respectively in receiving yards. Edmonton is averaging 424.3 yards per game, the second most in the CFL.

The Als defence will need to have their best performance of the season if they hope contain Reilly and co.

Montreal ranks last in a number of defensive categories, including yards per game (455.5), rushing yards (126.4), and passing yards (323.4).

On paper, the Esks are the clear favourites, but can the Alouettes pull off an upset?

– With files from Esks.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 – Montreal Alouettes @Edmonton Eskimos, August 18, 7p (9p ET, 3a CET)

Roger Kelly
Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.
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