2023 Grey Cup Preview: Matchups, players to watch as the Montreal Alouettes take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers

2T2NREM Vancouver, Canada. 06th Oct, 2023. Winnipeg Blue Bombers quarterback Zach Collaros passes during the first half of a CFL football game against the B.C. Lions, in Vancouver, on Friday, October 6, 2023. Collaros has tunnel vision when it comes to the Blue Bombers home game against the Edmonton Elks on Saturday. The veteran quarterback is focused on leading Winnipeg (12-4) to a victory over the Elks (4-13), which would clinch first place in the West Division for a third consecutive season. Credit: The Canadian Press/Alamy Live News

When is the Grey Cup? The Grey Cup will take place on Sunday, Nov. 19th, at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, ON. The game kicks off at 6 p.m. ET. It will be broadcast on TSN and RDS and available to stream via TSN+ and CFL+.

• Winnipeg enters the game as heavy favorites: The Montreal Alouettes and Winnipeg Blue Bombers have played twice this season, and the Blue Bombers won both games. But, as all football enthusiasts know, any team can win on any given Sunday.

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Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

In the realm of Canadian sports, few events resonate as deeply as the CFL's Grey Cup. Every year, fans from across the nation eagerly await the matchup, the pinnacle of Canadian football glory.

The Grey Cup brings together passionate fans, thrilling moments and fierce competition. So, with the 110th Grey Cup just around the corner, football enthusiasts nationwide (and, hopefully, a growing number of fans stateside) are gearing up for what promises to be an unforgettable showdown.


The Grey Cup will take place on Sunday, Nov. 19th, at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, ON. The game kicks off at 6 p.m. ET. It will be broadcast on TSN and RDS and available to stream via TSN+ and CFL+.


The Montreal Alouettes and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have fought through an incredibly competitive season and an intense playoff run to earn their spots in the 110th Grey Cup.

The Montreal Alouettes are set to appear in their 19th Grey Cup in franchise history, looking to win their first since 2010 and improve on their 7-11 record. They come into this game with the best defense in the CFL by far, having earned an 89.1 team defense grade over their two playoff games.

This is not only the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' fourth Grey Cup appearance in four seasons, but it will also be their 28th all-time appearance — a CFL record. They come into this game looking to avenge a heartbreaking 24-23 loss in last year's championship game.

Winnipeg has a solid team all around, but the stars play on an offense that features two-time Most Outstanding Player and 2021 Grey Cup MVP quarterback Zach Collaros (86.8 PFF grade) and Winnipeg-native running back Brady Oliveira (90.7).

The Alouettes and Blue Bombers have played twice this season, and the Blue Bombers won both. But, as all football enthusiasts know, any team can win on any given Sunday.

Matchup to watch: Winnipeg Edge defenders Willie Jefferson and Jackson Jeffcoat vs. Montreal offensive tackles Nick Callender, Landon Rice and Jamar McGloster

Jefferson (72.1 overall grade) and Jeffcoat (83.9) are Winnipeg's highest-graded pass-rushers. McGloster (66.5), Calendar (75.9) and Rice (74.7) have all played 480 or more snaps at offensive tackle this season, and they have all earned 70.0-plus pass-blocking grades, something only 15 offensive linemen in the league were able to accomplish.

In the previous two matchups this season, the Alouettes kept Jefferson and Jeffcoat relatively quiet, with the pair managing 19 pressures — and only four sacks — across 102 pass-rush snaps. Jefferson managed just an 8.5% win rate, while Jeffcoat struggled to a win rate of just 4.2%.

Winnipeg’s pass rush has been key to their defensive success this season. If the Montreal offensive tackles cannot keep the explosive edge rushers at bay for one more game, the Alouettes' offense could struggle.

Matchup to watch: DI Mustafa Johnson, Montreal Alouettes vs. C Chris Kolankowski, Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Kolankowski earned a 71.7 overall grade this season, the top marks among centers. Mustafa Johnson had an All-Star campaign and was PFF’s highest-graded interior defensive lineman at 86.8 overall.

Kolankowski matched up against Johson 19 times in pass protection across the two games this season and kept him relatively quiet, with the pass-rusher managing just a 16% win rate against Kolankowski. The Winnipeg center will likely slide all protections to Johnson’s side to limit his impact on the passing game.

Montreal Offensive player to watch: QB Cody Fajardo

Fajardo has been up-and-down in his first season as Montreal's quarterback, earning a 69.3 passing grade. But has led the Alouettes back to the Grey Cup for the first time since CFL legend Anthony Calvillo won it for the Alouettes in 2010.

He struggled in his two games against the Blue Bombers, completing 31 of a combined 52 passes for 407 yards (7.8 yards per attempt), zero touchdowns and two interceptions, good for a 57.8 passing grade. In all other games this season, he put up a 70.7 passing grade, finishing 318-of-439 for 3,807 yards (8.7 yards per attempt), 17 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

Montreal’s ability to win this game will be heavily reliant on Fajardo. He will need to figure out his struggles against the Blue Bombers and get it corrected to give his team an opportunity to take down the impending Blue Bombers dynasty.

Winnipeg Offensive player to watch: RB Brady Oliveira

Oliveira's 93.4 rushing grade on the year is the best mark among CFL running backs. He leads the league with 42 explosive runs of 10 or more yards and has moved the chains on a staggering 30.7% of his carries so far.

In the two matchups against the Alouettes this season, Oliveira earned a 78.3 rushing grade, with six explosive runs and a stuff rate of 0.0%.

Oliveira has earned his place as a key member of the Blue Bombers' potent offense and will likely be the favorite to be the Grey Cup’s Most Outstanding Canadian if the Blue Bombers pull out the win.

Montreal Defensive player to watch: S Marc-Antoine Dequoy

Dequoy, the Montreal native and the Univerity of Montreal alum, is the top-graded defensive player in the CFL (93.0). His nine forced incompletions are tied for the league lead at the position, and he has allowed a passer rating of 39.2 when targeted this season.

In the two matchups against the Blue Bombers this season, he put up an 89.3 coverage grade on the back of two interceptions (and one pick-six) and another forced incompletion.

Winnipeg Defensive player to watch: LB Kyrie Wilson

Two-time Grey Cup champion Kyrie Wilson missed the start of this season recovering from a torn Achilles suffered in July 2022 and only made his season debut in week 9, but he has not missed a beat. He has been stellar this season, earning a 77.4 overall grade, an 82.9 run-defense grade and a 76.4 coverage grade.

Wilson only played in the second game against Montreal this season, and he was a force to be reckoned with in that game, earning a 77.1 overall grade with a 74.4 run-defense grade, a 68.6 pass-rush grade and a 71.0 coverage grade.

Wilson recorded a run stop, a batted pass at the line of scrimmage and a defensive stop in coverage, affecting the Alouettes offense at all three levels of the defense.


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