Daring to compare

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- The road to the Grey Cup is long, cruel and treacherous.

There have been seven victims already this season and another one will be added to the list today.

However, for the team that wins this 93rd Grey Cup, there will be a lifetime of incredible memories.

The Edmonton Eskimos and Montreal Alouettes enter today's Canadian classic with identical 5-2 records in their seven games down the stretch to Vancouver.

They also split the two-game regular-season series.

But that statistic is somewhat misleading because the Eskimos practically handed the Als the first win at Percival Molson Stadium in July. The Green and Gold gave up not one, but two special-teams touchdowns and watched a 14-0 lead evaporate.

In the second game, the score flattered Montreal, as the Als scored a meaningless TD on the final play of the game to make it a respectable 36-26 loss.

The final chapter - and the only one that really means anything - comes this afternoon with key matchups across the field.

QUARTERBACK

If it weren't for Jason Maas, Montreal would hold a huge advantage in this category. Anthony Calvillo passed for more yards and had more TD strikes than anyone in the league this year.

"He is able to adapt (during the game to defensive schemes) and it is really a challenge to keep him off balance," said Edmonton secondary coach Rick Campbell.

"We have to make sure we show him enough different looks that he can't get a bead on us."

The only question mark is a small one: He struggled against Edmonton in Week 3, passing for 232 yards, his third-lowest mark of the year.

As anyone actually following the CFL knows, Ricky Ray has some big question marks. But Maas's red-hot throwing arm is a major plus for Edmonton.

ADVANTAGE: EVEN

- - -

RUNNING GAME

This could have been a marquee matchup featuring Robert Edwards vs. Troy Davis.

But Edwards is officially out with cracked ribs, leaving the ball to backup Eric Lapointe, who gained 112 yards against Toronto last week. Running against Edmonton could be a much different story.

Toronto has the worst run defence in the league, while Edmonton has the best.

Davis didn't have a good game against B.C. in the West final, gaining just 34 yards on 13 carries, but has been a key player in every other game for the Green and Gold.

The loss of FB Mathieu Bertrand hurts, but replacement Mike Maurer started at the same position for three years in Ottawa.

ADVANTAGE: EDMONTON

- - -

EDMONTON RECEIVERS VS. MONTREAL SECONDARY

Strength vs. strength.

With CFL all-star Jason Tucker, Mookie Mitchell, Ed Hervey and Trevor Gaylor, Edmonton has a Fab Four. To counter, Montreal led the league in interceptions.

However, the Montreal secondary had its worst day of the regular season against the Fab Four, giving up 438 yards through the air on Aug. 26.

Was that a one-time blip or a sign of things to come?

ADVANTAGE: EDMONTON

- - -

EDMONTON SECONDARY VS. MONTREAL RECEIVERS

The Als can boast about their own Fab Four - Kerry Watkins, Terry Vaughn, Ben Cahoon and Dave Stala - each with more than 1,000 yards this season.

No other team can claim that stat.

The Edmonton secondary has been a case of Jekyll and Hide down the stretch.

On the bad side, its giving up more than 300 passing yards a game in its last three tilts, which is a terrible sign, facing Montreal.

On the flip side, Edmonton has four INTs during two playoff games, doubling its per game output from the regular season.

ADVANTAGE: MONTREAL

- - -

EDMONTON OL VS. MONTREAL DL

To Alouettes' DL Anwar Stewart, this is one of the key battles.

"We've got to really let Edmonton have it up front," he said. "I am really putting a lot of pressure on myself and Mookie Tugbenyoh because if we can put pressure on their tackles, and then Ricky Ray, we'll be successful."

Montreal's D-Line won the battle in the regular season, sacking Ray five times.

However, Dan Comiskey is now on the O-Line and Davis is arguably the best pass-blocking RB in the league.

ADVANTAGE: EVEN

- - -

EDMONTON DL VS. MONTREAL OL

A fantastic showdown is looming.

The Montreal line is outstanding, not allowing one sack in the East final against Toronto.

The Edmonton front four had the second most sacks during the regular season.

However, in the head-to-head games this year, Edmonton sacked Calvillo just twice.

ADVANTAGE: MONTREAL

- - -

KICKERS

Both kickers are red-hot and focused.

Sean Fleming is eight-for-eight in the playoffs.

Damon Duval is seven-for-eight.

ADVANTAGE: EVEN


Photos