Argos seem more complete than Als

STEVE COAD -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:29 PM ET

Montreal (11-8) at Toronto (11-7)

The skinny: Tomorrow, 3 p.m. (CBC). East Division final. OK, so the Argos aren't great against the run. In fact, Toronto is last in run defence, giving up an average of 127 yards a game. But fear not, Boatmen faithful. Your ship is in good hands. The Argonauts, who surrendered a CFL-low 19.9 points a game, are No. 1 against the pass (allowing just 240 yards a game), which is important against the Als. Sure, running back Robert Edwards might burn them a bit -- he's a good one and a big part of Montreal's success -- but stopping the Als really means stopping their Anthony Calvillo-led passing attack. Ask the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the defence Calvillo and Co. lit up for three first-half majors that rendered academic the second half of Sunday's East Division semifinal, a game the Als won 30-14. Montreal's defence, till this season respected as much as any D in the loop, has been all over the map in terms of consistency. A lot of times, too, the Als just haven't tackled and their aggressiveness, the defence's trademark since Don Matthews' arrival in Montreal four years ago, has caused more problems than it's solved this season. There's some truth -- a lot actually -- to the thought the Als will go as far as Calvillo can take them. But the Als' secret weapon is Matthews, who just wins and wins and wins. The Argos' extra man this week will be the crowd at the Rogers Centre, which is expected to surpass 50,000, most of whom will be cheering on the Double Blue. The Argos, led by the grandpa Damon Allen, seem to be the more complete team. The 42-year-old Allen, in his 21st season, enjoyed a career-high 5,082 passing yards and 33 TD tosses. He's blessed with brilliant receivers, too. Arland Bruce III, Tony Miles and Robert all had 1,000-yard snagging seasons. Former Laurier Golden Hawk Andre Talbot is a good one, too. The Als are capable of beating the Argos -- especially if they can win or just play even on special teams -- but it shouldn't happen if the Argos play to their abilities.

Cody's call: Argos 33-30

Edmonton (12-7) at B.C. (12-6)

The skinny: Tomorrow, 6 p.m. (CBC). West Division final. I like it that both the Lions and Eskimos, each rich in talent at quarterback, have named their starter. I like Wally Buono's call of veteran Dave Dickenson, clearly the Leos' leader at this point. I'm not nearly as sold on Eskie head man Danny Maciocia's decision to lead with Ricky Ray, the guy who hasn't thrown a TD pass in six games. Uh, make that 5 1/2 games. Ray, a dandy passer for all his recent struggles, got the hook at the start of the third quarter in last Sunday's West semifinal. It was a good move by Maciocia. Jason Maas, who completed 15 of 18 passes for 144 yards (and the winning touchdown) overturned Calgary's 23-12 halftime lead and propelled the Eskimos to a 33-26 victory. He deserves the right to start against the Lions, although Maciocia has to feel great in the knowledge that if Ray falters again, he can be supremely confident in turning the team over to Maas. Along with depth at quarterback, the Eskimos are as strong as they've been all season in two other areas: running back with Troy Davis (19 carries for 100 yards vs. Calgary) and place kicking with Sean Fleming (six field goals vs. the Stamps). The Lions? They began the campaign like gangbusters, winning their first 11, but, shockingly, finished the season with a dismal 1-6 run. It was the Eskimos who snapped B.C.'s 11-game win streak with a 37-20 thrashing Sept. 24 at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium. The Eskimos won the season series between the teams 2-1. The Lions are loaded with stars, including London's Ryan Thelwell (74 catches for 1,035 yards and seven TDs), but that hasn't meant much lately. The Eskimos have reason to be confident.

Cody's call: Eskimos 36-27

Season record

Last week: 1-1; overall: 46-33


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