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Can The Argos Take Hold Of The East On Thanksgiving?

The first place Argos sit atop the East division alone at 5-3. Toronto has a one-game lead over heated rival Hamilton. And on Monday afternoon, the Boatmen have a chance to take a firm hold over the East by taking a two-game lead over the Ti-Cats with only five games left to play in the regular season.

A win against Hamilton would give the Argonauts a decided edge and breathing room in the Eastern standings. Not only would Toronto be up 2-1 in head-to-head meetings with the Ti-Cats, with one regular-season meeting between both rivals left to be played at BMO Field in Week 15. But it could set the stage for Toronto to edge out Hamilton for the division based on tie-breakers. Getting to 6-3 and 4-1 in the East would send the Boatmen sailing towards a potentially safe landing at season’s end.

EAST DIVISION STANDINGS

RKTEAMGPWLTPTSFAHOMEAWAYDIV
1 Toronto8530101771844-0-01-3-03-1-0
2 Hamilton844081561422-1-02-3-03-2-0
3 Montreal734061811740-2-03-2-02-2-0
4 Ottawa826041372381-3-01-3-00-3-0

Thanksgiving Day (FrenchJour de l’Action de grâce) is an annual Canadian holiday, held on the second Monday in October, which celebrates the harvest and other blessings of the past year. Thanks to their positive position, with a victory on Thanksgiving Day, the Toronto Argonauts have a chance to celebrate the harvest of all the hard work they have put into building a contending team.

That’s if the Argos can beat the Cats at Tim Horton’s Field on Monday. A gigantic IF, considering the difficulties Toronto has had against Hamilton in recent years, specifically on their field. Not counting preseason games, the last time Toronto defeated Hamilton at THF was September 30th of 2017, in a thrilling 43-35 overtime victory. The Tiger-Cats have owned the Argos’ at home ever since. And the truth is the Ti-Cats have owned the rivalry for quite some time now.

Argos At A Disadvantage Heading Into Thanksgiving

The psychological edge and location of Monday’s Thanksgiving tussle are not the only disadvantages facing Toronto. The Tiger-Cats have had extra time to prepare for the Boatmen. Having played last Saturday against Montreal. And they are stewing from their 23-20 overtime loss to the Alouettes.

On the flip side, Monday’s contest will be Toronto’s second game played in a five-day span. Having to do that on the road in one of the toughest places to play and against a quality opponent makes the odds of Toronto winning much more challenging.

The oddsmakers currently have Hamilton as 4 point favorites at home. All things considered, the line is not disrespectful towards Toronto, considering what happened the last time the two teams met at THF, when the Ti-Cats defeated the Argos on Labour Day 32-19, in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score would indicate. Furthermore, the fact that Hamilton has the edge in prep time. It’s a surprise that the Ti-Cats aren’t favored by more.

There’s a strange dynamic in play between both Toronto and Hamilton this season. You get the sense that we haven’t seen the best from either team. The Ti-Cats (4-4) got off to a slow start and have had to start three different quarterbacks and deal with significant injuries to star players like Bralon Addison.

Toronto, although they are 5-3, has had an up and down season. The team has dealt with many injuries, and for the most part, their play on the field has been inconsistent. The Argos are trying to raise their standard. No better time or place to do it than on Thanksgiving against the franchise that has been where Toronto wants to be.

Who Will Be The Argos Starting QB Against Hamilton?

The Argos have only a few practices before they play the Cats on Monday afternoon. They are practicing this weekend today and tomorrow before making the short trek to Hamilton.

CFL.ca reported that The Argos had QB Nick Arbuckle on the field on Friday as a full participant after he missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. DL Kony Ealy (arm) was also a full participant, as was DB Robertson Daniel.

DL Cordarro Law (non-injury related), LB Cam Judge (ankle), and RB John White (hamstring) were among the team’s DNPs. LS Jake Reinhart (arm) was injured against Ottawa on Wednesday; he also missed practice and will likely miss Friday’s game.

The Argonauts have little time to spare. With COVID protocols being what they are, potential free-agent players have to quarantine for a certain number of days. Toronto signed Canadian LS Maxime Latour off of The Redblacks practice squad as potential insurance for Reinhart on Monday.

On the opposing side, it looks like Hamilton is managing the reps of their Batman and Robin receiving duo of Bralon Addison and Brandon Banks (ribs). Both are expected to play, barring a last-minute change.

More noteworthy is the absence from Hamilton’s practices of standout kick returner and Argos-killer Frankie Williams. The dynamic, Williams has missed practice due to a head and rib injury. Toronto’s faithful would love to see Williams skip Thanksgiving.

The Argos haven’t faced quarterback Jeremiah Masoli yet this season. They will see him on Monday. But the question is, will the Ti-Cats see Nick Arbuckle starting on the pivot against them again?

In his two starts against Hamilton this year. Defensive Coordinator Mark Washington and the Ti-Cats defense have given Nick Arbuckle fits. Arbuckle turned the ball over five times (4 interceptions, 1 fumble) in the LDC game and the rematch, in which Toronto won 17-16 on a missed extra point. But with Arbuckle fully healthy and practicing. The question is, Does Ryan Dinwiddie go back to him as the team’s starter?

Arbuckle is healthy enough to dress after being deactivated against Ottawa. The short work week and McLeod Bethel-Thompson playing well in his place could work against Arbuckle this week. But does the team have faith that he can rise to the occasion in what is arguably, the franchise’s most important regular-season game in years.

The early consensus is that the Argos’ will go back to Nick Arbuckle as their starter on the pivot. An announcement could come at any moment. It’s one that could ultimately decide whether the Argos are going to lay claim to the East or be stuck in a nip and tuck battle all the way until the very end of the season.

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