Dome sweet dome?

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

The pressure is on the Montreal Alouettes.

Enjoying the underdog role, the Edmonton Eskimos believe the hometown Als will have plenty of weight on their shoulders when they meet in Saturday's East Division final at Olympic Stadium (11 a.m. MT, TSN, CHED).

"The pressure is on them," said Edmonton defensive tackle Dario Romero.

"They have had time off now. We are the underdogs. They are in their town. And I always enjoy being the underdog. It is an advantage for us."

The Eskimos advanced to the East final by defeating the favoured Winnipeg Blue Bombers 29-21 in the division semifinal Saturday.

Montreal earned the right to host the division title game - and get last week off - thanks to finishing first in the division in the regular season with 22 points.

The Als' 11-7 record - one win better than Edmonton - is one reason for the pressure.

"They (Alouettes) are the ones that took off this season (in the standings) and had this outstanding year," said Edmonton defensive back Jordan Younger.

"If they falter it is going to look funny on their part."

Another reason for the pressure being squarely in Montreal's court is expectations.

"We are not supposed to be here," said Eskimos receiver Kamau Peterson.

Added Younger: "We have exceeded everybody's expectations except our own. We are driven and motivated."

Indeed, Edmonton was the biggest longshot on the board entering the post-season race for the Grey Cup at +180 on the money line of at least one online sports book.

At that same sports book, Montreal was favoured to win the Grey Cup in the prop bet last week at +125 ($100 wagered at that line would bring $125 if the Als won the league title).

Not surprisingly, Montreal general manager Jim Popp isn't buying into the Eskimos' theory that the Als are facing pressure.

"Whatever people want to make of it," said Popp. "Nobody is putting pressure on anything."

In the head-to-head matchups this year, Montreal hammered Edmonton 40-4 in Quebec on Sept. 21. The Esks took the other regular-season meeting beating a depleted Als' squad 37-14 on Oct. 31.

The first game will carry a lot more credibility because Montreal rested six regular starters in the second tilt.

If you dig a little deeper, Montreal was without two key veterans - linebacker Reggie Hunt and defensive back Mark Estelle - on Oct. 31 while testing other players in different spots.

"Those are impact guys (Estelle and Hunt), don't get me wrong," said Peterson. "But schemes don't change. I know the guys ending up over me (on Oct. 31) were the same I will be facing (on Saturday)."

Peterson had 10 catches for 108 yards on Halloween night as the offence posted 549 yards.

"People are going to talk about they (Montreal) didn't play their guys. You know, Ricky (Ray) only played two and a half quarters. Kelly Campbell only played a half," said Edmonton receivers coach Mike Kelly on the Oct. 31 contest.

"There is a balance there.

"This is going to be fun.

"This is going to be an interesting deal (on Saturday)."\


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