A home playoff game could be secured by Saturday if the Calgary Stampeders can knock off the only team to have dealt them a defeat thus far.
With the combination of a Stamps triumph on Friday and an Eskimos loss to Winnipeg the following day, the Stamps will secure a home playoff game come November for the ninth time in the past 10 seasons.
The Red and White (11-1-1) aim for their 17th straight home victory and their 10th consecutive win this year when they host the 3-10 Alouettes to close out their September schedule.
Through four outings this month, the Stampeders have gone a perfect 4-0, beating Edmonton twice before holding BC and Saskatchewan to less than 14 points apiece.
“We’ve had good luck here at home and we feel obviously that our best football usually is at McMahon,” expressed head coach Dave Dickenson. “We have been winning at lot of games on the road as well though, so it’s not like we’re slouches on the road. It’s going to take great effort and Montreal plays extremely hard.”
In their July 14 meeting at Percival Molson Stadium, Bo Levi Mitchell completed a career-high 34 passes, but four different Montreal players made it into the end-zone compared to only one – DaVaris Daniels – for the visitors. It was a penalty-filled affair with the two teams flagged for 233 yards on 23 infractions.
Calgary has since rattled off nine consecutive victories while the Als have dropped eight of nine.
Last weekend saw the Alouettes fall 33-19 in Toronto as Darian Durant threw three interceptions. The Stampeders hung on for a 15-9 decision in Regina with Jerome Messam punishing defenders all afternoon en route to 23 carries for 127 yards.
Mitchell will look to add to his CFL-high 11 wins as a starting quarterback and the Als are expected to counter with Drew Willy. In place of the injured Durant, Willy will make his first start with Montreal and has a 12-24 career record under centre with the Roughriders, Blue Bombers and Argonauts.
A dominant Stamps defence leads several statistical categories including first downs conceded, rushing yards allowed per game and sacks. Meanwhile, the Alouettes are currently at the bottom of those three rankings.
“They’ve still got some really good players,” Dickenson recognized. “They’ve veered off the tracks a little bit but they’re more than capable to get back on. Things haven’t gone Montreal’s way, but we can’t go out there and expect anything less than a great game and a great battle and hopefully we play our best.”
Field-goal kicking also favours Calgary with Rene Paredes’ league-best percentage (90.7) significantly superior to Boris Bede’s success rate (80 per cent).
Next up for the Stampeders is their second bye week. Trips to Hamilton and Edmonton and home dates against Saskatchewan and Winnipeg will close out their regular-season schedule.
“If they are looking to the bye week, that’s a problem,” affirmed Dickenson regarding his team. “We got beat by this team the last time we played them and they still have good players. They’re going to come in here and use that victory to try to get them some momentum. Everything about that means we’ve got to be ready to play and be at our best.”