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Toronto is a different team with Ricky Ray at the helm. There was a drop-off in offensive performance when Ray, the most accurate passer in the league this year, was out of the lineup due to injury. Chad Kackert filled in nicely after the team cut ties with then-league leading rusher Cory Boyd, and Chad Owens proved this year he isn't just a return man.
The running game suffered some injuries and All-Star receiver Jamel Richardson's numbers fell off this season, but one thing that remained the same was the play of Anthony Calvillo. The veteran QB once again earned the team's nod for the Most Outstanding Player award, throwing for 5,082 yards and 31 touchdowns.
The aggressive unit lived up to the reputation of a Chris Jones-coached defence. The defence isn't overflowing with big name stars, but rather a bevy of solid contributors highlighted by the likes of MLB Robert McCune, DBs Patrick Watkins and Jordan Younger, and of course, the Kissing Bandit Adriano Belli.
Montreal's defence was first in the East in points allowed, but only middle of the pack league-wide. The play of LB Shea Emry was a big plus for the Alouettes; the Canadian elevated his game this season to join playmakers like fellow LB Chip Cox and DE John Bowman on the defensive side of the ball.
Owens was terrific as the Argos primary return man this season, once again leading the league in combined return yards. His increased role in the offence did not lead to a drop-off in special teams production, as he set the new record for single season combined yards with 3,863. Toronto's kicking game has been a bit inconsistent all year.
Montreal appears to have found their return man in Trent Guy, one of only eight returners league-wide with more than 1,000 yards on the season. Sean Whyte was decent kicking the ball, connecting on 33 of 41 field goal attempts and finishing with a 43.8 yard punting average. Whyte's long of 52 yards was the longest field goal made in the regular season.
Ray played in just two of the team's last seven regular season games and the playoff last week. He was terrific in all of them. Ray must stay healthy in the playoffs.
Owens is a threat for a big play every time he touches the ball. Provided he keeps his fumbles in check, the Argos should go to Owens often.
Toronto's young defence has to play aggressive, but must guard against getting too excited. The unit should rely on vets Younger and Belli to set the tone.
Montreal's run game cannot be counted on to the same level as it has been in years prior. Calvillo once again has to be brilliant for the Als.
The defence is solid, if not spectacular. If that unit can play a clean four quarters, it should be more than enough to give Calvillo a chance to win.
Richardson started slow in 2012 but continued to improve throughout the season. He's now looking a lot like the All-Star he's been in previous years; he can't have a let up in play when it matters most.
The Big Man opened the playoffs going 2-0, correctly predicting the Argos and Stampeders semi-finals wins.
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