Preview: Alouettes travel to Toronto for East Final

The Montreal Alouettes and Toronto Argonauts will face off at BMO Field on Saturday at 3 p.m. (TSN, RDS, TSN 690, 98.5 FM) with a spot in the 110th Grey Cup on the line. These two teams have gone head-to-head three times this season, with the Argos winning all three matchups.

But the Alouettes are a different squad than they were the last time these two teams played each other in mid-September. They will come into this game riding a six-game winning streak, which is their longest of the 2023.

Stopping the run:

The Argonauts have an explosive offence. They can make plays through the air, but they can also run the ball efficiently. In the three matchups against the Alouettes this season, Argos running back AJ Ouellette rushed for 95, 105 and 53 yards.

“He’s a powerful running back,” Als linebacker Darnell Sankey said of Ouellette. “He runs behind his pads. It takes multiple guys to bring him down. As far as I know, I think he averages four yards after contact which is very good for a running back. If we hit him and hit him hard early, I think we’ll do what we need to do.”

Winning the turnover battle:

The Alouettes (2nd) and Argos (1st) are the top two teams in the league when it comes to forcing turnovers, but in the head-to-head matchups, the Argos won the turnover margin, 8-2. The Als defence has been outstanding at creative turnovers and scoring, as they were able to find the end zone nine times during the regular season.

“Looking back at the tape of the last three times we played against them, I think the big reason why we were on the losing end was because we lost the turnover battle in all three of those games,” quarterback Cody Fajardo said. “In one of those games, at their place, the turnover margin was 5-0 in their favour. Any time you lose the turnover battle, you have a high percentage of losing the game. That’s the main focal point going into this one. If we win the turnover battle, that should give us a chance heading into the fourth quarter, and that’s all you can ask for when you’re going up against a 16-2 football team.”

Tyrell Richards returns:

Canadian linebacker Tyrell Richards will make his return to the Alouettes lineup after a one-game absence. The first overall pick in 2022 missed seven games with a lower-body injury before returning for the regular season finale against Hamilton, but he suffered another injury in that game that forced him to miss last week’s East Division Semi-Final.

The 25-year-old has shown an ability to contribute on special teams and on defence this season. Richards is a menace on special teams, and he brings that physicality to the defence as well.

On Aug. 24 in Winnipeg, he managed to return a Zach Collaros interception for a touchdown on the opening possession of the game.