July 10, 2024

Ferguson: 4 reasons why the Riders, Als are undefeated


When a professional football team gets off to a 1-0 start, everything feels great.

The momentum from training camp is validated and everyone starts to believe. When a CFL team exits their first month of play yet to be defeated, things get very real, very quickly as teams and everyone around them begin to believe that a Grey Cup championship could be in their cards.

With both Montreal (5-0) and Saskatchewan (4-0) sitting in exactly that headspace, there is naturally a struggle to keep level heads and realize that a great start does not equate to a great season or guaranteed playoff run. Ask the 2023 Toronto Argonauts how that one goes.

The good news for Montreal and Saskatchewan is plenty of solid building blocks have been laid.

With that in mind let’s take a look at what these two clubs have in common which has led to their stellar starts.

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Both clubs have tremendous positional coaches and coordinators. That’s no secret in a day when CFL coaches are typically established and their styles are well known, but this is about the top boss.

Jason Maas has done well to establish his vision in Montreal, in just one year he turned many doubters around and discovered that when confidence and consistency came all the way from his bosses down in Montreal he could employ his methods and get greatness out of his team.

That is the blueprint. Right from the first press conference you could see new Riders head coach Corey Mace’s mentality taking shape, and boy does it ever look good in green so far.


I know, this one is about to blow your mind. Trust me, it makes more sense when you put it in context with the rest of their team performances, but you have to tip your cap to the league’s top two scoring offences headed into Week 6 with Montreal (31.4) just ahead of the Riders (28.8).

For these two clubs to hold off potent passing attacks in BC and Hamilton shows their overall offensive potential and dual threat capabilities. A defence’s worst nightmare.


This one actually blew my mind. As a result of not calling any Riders games yet this year, I hadn’t realized they rank dead last in the CFL with 313.0 passing yards allowed per game while the Alouettes are the opposite end of the spectrum as CFL leaders (241.8). 

HOW then in a pass-happy CFL have the Riders been able to hold teams to the third best number of points allowed per game at 23.5? They own top spot in opponent rushing yards allowed at just 46.0 which is better than second place Toronto by six whole yards.

These defences have each shown their ability to set the tone, be the more physical side and carve out their own unique style. The fact they are doing it differently and getting to the same place in the win column says there’s more than one way to get the job done.


While the offences trail BC (121.7) by a few digits each, the Riders (82.2) and Alouettes (76.7) defences are the best pass efficiency units in the CFL. I love this stat because it combines more than just completion percentage and touchdowns which can be faulty as judgement tools. With interceptions and more factored in, it’s clear both clubs have excelled against the opposition’s air attack despite Saskatchewan giving up a ton of yards.

We couldn’t finish this write up on successful steps for these two teams without mentioning turnovers. Perhaps no element of the CFL game is more important in determining wins and losses than turnover production and offensive prevention.

The Riders and Als are the only two teams in the CFL with a positive turnover margin, and it ain’t close. Entering Week 6 Montreal (+10) leads the CFL but Saskatchewan (+7) are hot on their tails and closing fast with some big performances.

The Argonauts of 2023 set the tone on turnover production so it’s no surprise to see Corey Mace pack up that mentality and take it West, but these two teams have a chance to set some major history in the turnover department if they remain alone in the positives into August.

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