The Eskimos looked like a playoff-bound team early on last season before stumbling down the stretch and missing out. However, the Montreal Alouettes have been one of the worst teams in the league the last few years, and after firing their head coach just days before the season opener, it is hard to imagine them being better—yet.
Montreal Alouettes @ Edmonton Eskimos
Friday 14th June 2019
- Spread: Eskimos by 10
- Over/Under: 51.5
- Money Line: Alouettes +325; Eskimos -425
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When the most significant thing that the world knows about your team is that Johnny Manziel is no longer playing for it, that doesn’t bode well for the future. When the head coach is fired following the last preseason game and just days before the regular season starts— the future definitely looks bleak (and the team lacks direction since the league owns it).
But there is a reason to believe that the product on the field is not too bad. After Sherman was let go, offensive coordinator Khari Jones was promoted to head coach. Last season was his first as the OC for the Alouettes. While the offence was dreadful, he did have a revolving door at quarterback.
The franchise hoped Johnny Manziel would stabilize the position, but he needed time to acclimate to the CFL game and had some injury issues. Antonio Pipkin cam on strong towards the end of the season and has looked good in the preseason.
As concerning as the late coaching change is, the Alouettes did add some quality free agents to both sides of the ball. If Pipkin struggles, they have former Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams in the wings ready and waiting for his shot.
Behind Mike Reilly, the Eskimos had the best passing attack in the CFL last season—but they were unable to resign him. But they didn’t do a bad job of replacing him by signing former Ottawa pivot Trevor Harris. Behind Harris, the Redblacks had the No. 3 passing attack in the CFL last season, just 1.5 yards/game less than Reilly’s Eskimos.
A case could be made that the passing game shouldn’t lose a step despite losing Reilly. But then they also lost Derek Williams and Derel Walker. However, they also brought in some talented replacements like Greg Ellingson, DaVaris Daniels, Ricky Collins, and Tevaun Smith.
As for the defence, while there have been some personnel changes, the most significant change was at defensive coordinator. Phillip Lolley will be tasked with trying to take a unit that was not particularly good against the run (sixth) or pass (sixth) and making them better.
If the defence can improve and the offence is as productive as it was last season, the Eskimos could be a solid dark horse candidate to make the Grey Cup this year.
Montreal Alouettes vs. Edmonton Eskimos Head-to-Head
Last season, the Alouettes and Eskimos played twice (Week Six and Nine); the Eskimos won both with ease (by 21 and 16 points). From a historical perspective, the two teams have played 78 times since 1949. Edmonton leads the all-time series between them with 47 wins to 29 for Montreal (and two ties).
Montreal’s last win over the Eskimos was back during Week 15 of the 2013 season (they also beat the during Week Five that year).
Odds and Predictions
It is going to be so easy to pick the Eskimos to win this game, straight up and against the spread. A team that fired its head coach just days before the start of the season has to be in total disarray. Why else would they make such a move at that juncture?
But to dismiss the Alouettes without giving them too much thought would be irresponsible. Pipkin is a capable quarterback, and he will have some quality skill position guys to work with. Should he struggle, Vernon Adams could step right in and make magic happen.
Does that mean Montreal is going to win? Absolutely not. The Alouettes have too many question marks as a franchise and Edmonton simply has more talent. The Eskimos may not be ready to shine yet, but they will not need to in order to beat the Alouettes.
Take Edmonton to win (-425) but the Alouettes to win against the spread (+10). As for the over/under (51.5), the oddsmakers are either giving Edmonton too much credit or Montreal, not enough. Take the under.
Expert Betting Tip
Edmonton will win this game; Montreal will make it a better one than expected. But the Eskimos will come out on top.