CFL Saturday: What bettors need to know

Montreal Alouettes at Hamilton Tiger-Cats (-8, 52.5)

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are used to playing home games away from home this season, but they will travel a lot further than Guelph on Saturday when they host the Montreal Alouettes in Moncton. The Tiger-Cats have been playing home games at the University of Guelph’s Alumni Stadium while Tim Hortons Field is built in Hamilton, making them the perfect team to host the third regular-season game to be played in the Maritime town. Moncton could be a prime candidate for future expansion.

Montreal could use a change of scenery since the team appears to have lost any momentum gained from Tanner Marsh’s comeback victory over the BC Lions. The Alouettes have dropped two straight games and Marsh was replaced by Josh Neiswander after a lacklustre first half against BC last week. Veteran quarterback Anthony Calvillo is likely out for the rest of the season, meaning either Marsh or Neiswander will need to seize the starting role if Montreal is to make a playoff run.

TV: 4 p.m. ET, TSN

ABOUT THE ALOUETTES (4-7):
Quarterback Troy Smith also took a couple snaps last week as general manager/head coach Jim Popp searches for a solution under center. Smith signed with Montreal in August and is still adjusting to the CFL after failed attempts to crack the rosters of three NFL teams. Uncertainty at quarterback is an unusual situation for the Alouettes, who had two starters - Tracy Ham and Calvillo - since 2006. “We heard a lot of complaining about not seeing anybody else,” Popp said. “Now you're seeing other people and there's complaining that you're seeing three quarterbacks in a game. You're never going to make everybody happy. We're trying to give these guys a chance - to see what they can do.''

ABOUT THE TIGER-CATS (5-6): Quarterback Henry Burris leads the league in passing yards by a substantial margin, recording 3,589 - 802 more than any other quarterback - as he tries to top his career-best total of 5,367 set last season. Eight hundred of those passing yards have been to wide receiver Greg Ellingson, who has six touchdown catches. Running back C.J. Gable surpassed 400 rushing yards after dealing with injuries to start the season. Linebacker Jamall Johnson leads the team with 42 tackles and has three sacks.

TRENDS:

* Tiger-Cats are 6-0 ATS in their last six games overall.
* Under is 8-2 in Alouettes last 10 games following a ATS loss.
* Under is 6-1 in Tiger-Cats last seven home games.
* Alouettes are 0-5 ATS in their last five meetings.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. The last time the Tiger-Cats played in Moncton - 2011 - Burris was a member of the Calgary Stampeders, who lost 55-34 to Hamilton in that game.

2. Montreal LB Chip Cox leads the league with 78 tackles.

3. Burris surpassed 50,000 career passing yards last week.


Toronto Argonauts at Calgary Stampeders (-7.5, 55.5)

The Toronto Argonauts’ road-warrior status will be put to the test against a fellow division leader when they visit the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday. The Argonauts are 4-1 on the road, but the Stampeders stand 5-0 at home and have ridden a four-game winning streak to the top of the West Division. East Division-leading Toronto has won two straight despite missing top offensive players such as quarterback Ricky Ray and slotback Chad Owens, moving into second in the CFL power rankings behind Calgary.

The Stampeders are no stranger to battling through injuries. Even though Calgary lost top slotback Nik Lewis for the season and is still without starting quarterback Drew Tate, third-string quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell is making a strong case to start more games with a completion rate of 70.3 percent and 10 touchdown passes to just three interceptions. Mitchell completed 4-of-6 passes in limited action during Calgary 35-14 victory in Toronto in Week 9, but he and young Argonauts quarterback Zach Collaros will  take center stage Saturday in a game Ottawa Redblacks scouts would be smart to watch.

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, TSN

ABOUT THE ARGONAUTS (7-4): Coach Scott Milanovich said Owens is doubtful for Saturday, marking the second straight game last season’s Most Outstanding Player will miss. Running back Chad Kackert returned from injury last week but left after a helmet-to-helmet hit in the first half and his status for Saturday is uncertain. Jerious Norwood ran for 73 yards and one touchdown replacing Kackert. Linebacker Robert McCune leads the team with 60 tackles.

ABOUT THE STAMPEDERS (9-2): Defensive linemen Charleston Hughes and Cordarro Law set the tone on Calgary’s defense, accounting for 21 of the team’s 41 sacks. Defensive back Fred Bennett has a team-leading three interceptions. Running back Jon Cornish reached 1,000 rushing yards for the second straight season last week against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Mitchell is second on the team with 145 rushing yards.

TRENDS:


* Argonauts are 6-0 ATS in their last six Saturday games.
* Over is 8-1 in Stampeders last nine home games.
* Under is 6-0 in the last six meetings in Calgary.
* Argonauts are 6-1 ATS in their last seven meetings.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. Three of Toronto’s four losses have come against West Division opponents.

2. Calgary might not get Tate back until the 2014 season, raising big questions over whether to protect him or Mitchell for the Redblacks’ expansion draft after the season.

3. Toronto WR John Chiles has caught seven touchdown passes in his last seven games.

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