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Can Redblacks Rebound Against Ti-Cats in Week 4?

The Redblacks came into week three feeling confident after defeating the Blue Bombers in week two. They quickly came back to reality when the defending Grey Cup champion Montreal Alouettes embarrassed them in an internationally broadcast game. The game may have ended 47-21 but the Alouettes led 30-1 at the half. The Redblacks were never in this game and it brought expectations plummeting back down to earth after an impressive home opener. 

Hamilton, The Measuring Stick for Mediocrity in 2024? 

The Redblacks are certainly improved but there is still work to be done before they can compete with the best teams in the league. Hamilton will provide another measuring stick for how much Ottawa has improved over last season and many others before it. Right now Hamilton is 0-2, sitting 4th in the East division. If Ottawa wins this game not only are they 2-1, but Hamilton will fall to 0-3 and essentially be five games back after just 3 games. 

Hamilton is not a team bereft of talent, quite the opposite in fact as they have scored 54 points (10 more than Ottawa) in their two losses. It’s their defense that has to prove they are up to the task as they have allowed teams to jump out to an early lead in multiple games before tightening up later on. Against Calgary, they were down 19-7 going into the half. In Week 4 they were down 18-7 going into the half. Hamilton had better luck slowing Saskatchewan down the week before when they played host. 

Bo-Levi Mitchell is playing at a high clip right now having thrown for 754 yards in two and a half games completing 69% of his passes and tossing four touchdowns along the way. Ottawa just allowed 393 passing yards to Cody Fajardo, this could turn into a big day for Bo-Levi if Ottawa isn’t careful. 

How to Watch

This game will be broadcast on TSN/RDS in Canada, and available at the website on CFL+ internationally for free. Kickoff is at 4 pm Pacific time, 7 pm Eastern time. Sign up today if you’re a fan outside Canada and catch most of the games. 

Keys to Victory for Ottawa

Last season Ottawa played Hamilton three times and saw three different quarterbacks. In week 5 it was Matthew Shiltz now with Calgary, Bo-Levi Mitchell in week 8, and Taylor Powell in week 14. They lost to all three by a combined 15 points. In the game against Bo-Levi Mitchell the Ottawa secondary seemed to have his number intercepting him five times but still losing by 4 points when the team didn’t generate a single touchdown and instead called on Lewis Ward four times. 

The one factor that stood out across all three games no matter which quarterback they faced did not seem to produce much pressure. They need to be able to speed up the process for Bo-Levi Mitchell who has thrown an interception a game even though he’s only been sacked 3 times in four games. If you force him to make quick decisions maybe the Redblacks can produce another five interception games. 

If this defense allows Mitchell to sit back in the pocket he can pick apart this defense. The Tiger-Cats only decided to carry 8 wideouts this season and every single one has been involved. Mitchell has shown he has no qualms throwing to his top target, or his last read, as long as they are open. Shemar Bridges a newcomer has set himself apart, but other than that they have spread the ball around to Steven Dunbar Jr., Lawrence Woods III, Tim White, and Kiondre Smith. Before week four Dezmon Patmon, Jevoni Robinson, and Tyler Ternowski had not gotten the targets the top five had. That was until week four when Dezmon Patmon saw his first targets and 8 of them at that catching 4 for 52 yards, Ternowski caught his second pass of the year. 

Establish the Run Game

In their first game, Calgary rushed for 117 yards including 87 by Dedrick Mills, and Hamilton lost by 8 points. In their second game Saskatchewan could not get their run game going and produced just 33 yards on 12 carries abandoning the run early. Hamilton lost by 3 on a field goal attempt as time expired. In their third game and second straight against Saskatchewan, the Roughriders had A.J. looking like the Oulette of old as he had over 50 rushing yards heading into the fourth quarter. 

If the Redblacks can get Armstead going like they did in the first half of week two it will go a long way toward opening up passing lanes for Dru Brown and keeping the defense fresh. Armstead ran 8 times in the first half producing 61 of 95 yards. Dru Brown was 12 for 17 in the first half while Ottawa was finding success on the ground. He would finish 20 of 33, or 8 of 16 in the st off half while Armstead managed 8 carries for just 34 yards.

Protect the Passer 

Part of what makes a run game so important against Hamilton is their defense is one of the better units when it comes to rushing the passer. They have two players with multiple sacks Brandon Barlow who came over from Toronto has 3 sacks, Casey Sayles has 2 sacks, and Kyle Wilson and Rayshawn Wilborn both have one-piece. 

Using play action, screen passes, draw plays, and misdirection will be necessary for Ottawa to keep these defenders off of Dru Brown. If Hamilton’s pass rush is allowed to get into the backfield like they have through three weeks Ottawa could be in trouble early. 

Follow Saskatchewan’s Blue Print to Stop the Run

The Roughriders under the guidance of Corey Mace allowed just 30 rushing yards in their first meeting and 29 in their second. A total of 59 yards, on 22 carries in two games. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he has a great rotation at defensive tackle that allows his linebackers like Jameer Thurman to make plays. This is a formula Ottawa should have the necessary talent to follow. 

With Daniel Okpoko back in the lineup Ottawa has four capable defensive tackles to rotate in and produce interior pressure. Michael Wakefield, Blessman Ta’ala, and Cleyon Laing should be able to produce consistent penetration because the Tiger-Cats will be forced to give extra attention to Bryce Carter and Lorenzo Mauldin IV. Collapse the interior of this line and Ottawa will find success in this game. 


Jonathan Rose signed a one-day contract to retire as a member of the Redblacks. Rose last played during the 2021 season with Edmonton suiting up in 13 games. He is best known for his time in Ottawa. Rose said “Once a Redblack, always a Redblack” about his decision to retire with Ottawa. Rose’s CFL rookie year was in 2016. He started 14 games and collected 6 tackles in the Grey Cup winning a title his first season. He was named a CFL East All-Star.

He would go on to play three more years with Ottawa. Over that time he was named a CFL East All-Star once more, while leading the league in interceptions and fumbles in 2018. Rose once overcame a spinal fusion to return to the CFL and play in 2021. 

With Edmonton, he dealt with the reality that Covid was a central part of sports as several of his teammates got sick and struggled to overcome the sickness. Despite all this, he held out hope he would find his way back to the field in 2022. This chance never came then, and now over two years removed from his last on-field action, Rose officially hangs it up. Congratulations to Rose who walks away from the game with 193 tackles, at least 26 pass breakups, 1 sack, 6 forced fumbles, 5 fumble recoveries, and 9 interceptions. He also collected 137 return yards and 2 touchdowns along the way. 

Andre Miller Returns 

Andre Miller returns to the Redblacks via the practice squad. At the media availability this week Coach Dyce said Miller had a great camp but suffered an injury and needed some time to heal. They knew they wanted him back when healthy and now he returns. This timing couldn’t be better as the Redblacks may be without Jaelon Acklin on Sunday, although he was a full participant in practice on Thursday.

Injury Report and Depth Chart

Dontae Bull was a full participant on Wednesday but didn’t practice on Thursday. He returned to practice Friday and is available for the game. Money Hunter missed practice on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday while fellow DB Ty Cranston went from limited on Wednesday and Thursday to not participating on Friday. Both are ruled out. I expect to see Tarvarus McFadden or Sherrod Baltimore playing this weekend in place of Hunter, and Cranston.

Betting Odds and Predictions 

According to BetUs, the Redblacks are 1-point favorites in this game as the home team. However, I am not sure these odds factor in that the Redblacks have not beaten the Tiger-Cats in their last ten games. In these games, they have been outscored by 106 points or 10.6 points per game. In their last six games, they have lost by 8 points or less. 

This team is not the same Redblacks team we have watched win just 14 games over five years from 2019-2023. I believe Hamilton should be the favorite in this game and their rating in this game is dripping with recency bias. The over/under in this game is 51 1/2 points and I see a scenario where they hit the over my prediction is 30-24 Hamilton. I think they continue this trend this week but Ottawa will soon rebound. 

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Sam Just Reporter
I am a writer and content creator focusing on alternative football leagues like the UFL, CFL, AFL, IFL, NAL, and AIF. If you like alternative football leagues, check out my personal platform Shady Sports Network on YouTube and all your favorite social media platforms.
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