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CFL 2023: Toronto Argonauts-Hamilton Tiger-Cats Labour Day Classic Preview/Prediction

CFL 2023 Labour Day Weekend has arrived. The 8-1 defending CFL champion Toronto Argonauts sail into familiar enemy territory as they clash with a rejuvenated Tiger-Cats team in Hamilton.

CFL 2023 Labour Day Classic Storylines

Although the 4-6 Ti-Cats have endured a rollercoaster season to this point, as things currently stand entering Week 13, they would qualify for the postseason. Thanks to Hamilton coming off the heels of a shocking road upset of the BC Lions in Vancouver.

The Tiger-Cats have dropped their first two meetings of the season against Toronto. However, a third-time charm in the Hammer could truly set the underachieving Ti-Cats up for a strong run in the season’s second half.

The Argos, winners of 17 of their last 20 games, dating back to last year’s Grey Cup run, have won four straight games against their bitter rival, including two straight victories in Hamilton.

Historically, the Tiger-Cats have dominated the LDC series against Toronto. Hamilton is 36-14-1 against their eternal foe. But the tide in this historic rivalry has begun to shift in the Argonauts’ favour. Can it carry over to the Labour Day Classic?

CFL 2023 Labour Day Classic: Toronto Argonauts-Hamilton Tiger-Cats Game Notes/Keys

The Toronto Argonauts enter Monday’s game as 7.5-point road favorites. The over/under is set at 50 points. The weather forecast is sunny with a high near 30C and Winds SW at 10 to 15 km/h.

  • This will be the 52nd edition of this East Division LDC.
  • The Argonauts won their first two matchups this season. They will meet for a fourth and final time in Week 16.
  • Hamilton is 36-14-1 in the series.
  • The Argonauts won on Labour Day last season, but Hamilton had taken nine of the previous ten LDCs.
  • In 18 of the past 20 LDCs (since 2002), the team that won the fourth quarter went on to win the game.
  • Of the 51 LDCs in the series, 26 have been decided in the final three minutes.
  • This will be both Taylor Powell and Chad Kelly’s first starts in an LDC.
  • Orlondo Steinauer is 3-1 in LDC games, while Ryan Dinwiddie is 1-1
  • In two games versus Hamilton this year, Kelly has passed for 544 yards with six touchdowns (2 pass, four rush), while completing 68 percent of his passes.

Toronto Argonauts Week 13 Depth Chart/Injury Report

For Toronto, defensive back DaShaun Amos (ankle) has been ruled out for Monday. He will be out a minimum of six games. Cornerback Tarvarus McFadden will slide inside to halfback in his place.

The Argos depth in their secondary will be tested moving forward. As Defensive backs Josh Hagerty (shoulder-6 game injured list) and Robert Priester (foot) are also out Monday. Maurice Carnell IV, a breakout performer in 2022, is still on the team’s injured list.

Punter John Haggerty (knee) and receiver Cam Phillips (knee) were listed as questionable. Both are game time decisions. All Star punter Haggerty may dress but only as a holder on Monday, similar to last week.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats Week 13 Depth Chart/Injury Report

As of presstime, the Ti-Cats haven’t posted their LDC Depth Chart. It seems like a common occurrence whenever Hamilton plays Toronto. This article will be updated once it becomes available.

WR Duke Williams (chest) practiced in full late in the week and is expected to be in the starting lineup. But is listed as a game time decision. It’s also worth noting that starting left tackle Joel Figueroa is also listed as a game time decision.

LB Kyle Wilson (ankle) is out.

The Tiger-Cats, who have endured a lot of injuries this season, are relatively healthy coming into the LD Classic.

Keys To A Ti-Cats Victory

Offence: Exercise patience in the ground attack with star runner James Butler. In their last meeting with Toronto, James Butler was held to 14 yards on eight carries. Hamilton ran the ball only 14 times. In the Argonauts’ lone loss of this season against the Stampeders, it was the run game that did them in. Calgary stayed committed and found success against Toronto’s front.

Attack the seams. In Toronto’s last two games, Ottawa and Calgary found ways to attack the Argonauts down the field. Opposing teams have had success against Corey Mace’s defence in the short passing game, which has led the Argos to over-committing to counter those passes. In turn, what it has done is set up busted coverages down the field. With Dashaun Amos out of the Boatmen’s lineup, there could be more opportunities to test the Argos secondary down the middle of the field.

Defence: Pass on a passive approach. The Tiger-Cats had great success against the Lions by dropping eight and nine players into coverage. They elected to force Vernon Adams to take shots down the field by flooding the underneath areas with defenders. Against Toronto and Chad Kelly, that could be a recipe for disaster. Allowing Chad Kelly to set his feet and fire downfield is not a sound strategy. You have to disrupt him and his receiver’s timing.

Special Teams: Don’t kick to Javon Leake. It’s come down to this. Sooner or later, CFL teams will adapt accordingly when facing the league’s most dynamic returner. Leake has an absurd four punt return touchdowns in nine games. Hamilton has to make sure they spring no leaks in coverage against Javon. Open space for Leake is an opposing coverage unit’s enemy.

Keys To An Argos Victory

Offence: Go for the kill. Toronto has been sluggish in second halves against Hamilton this season. In the season opener, it didn’t matter. But in their last meeting against the Ti-Cats, Toronto took their foot off the gas and allowed Hamilton back into the game. The game was closer than it needed to be late. If the Ti-Cats decide to play conservatively defensively and play everything underneath. The Boatmen need to challenge their defence down the field.

Defence: Make sure the Butler didn’t do it. James Butler is the Ti-Cats’ most dynamic player. As he goes, the Ti-Cats go. Eliminating the ground attack early and forcing Taylor Powell out of a comfort zone will be key.

Toronto also needs to clean up its operation on the back end of its defence. The Argonauts are allowing way too many chunk plays on busted coverages.

Special Teams: In their last meeting with Hamilton. Jeff Reinebold’s unit won their battle head-up with Toronto. The Ti-Cats averaged 38.7 yards per kick return and limited Toronto’s return game. The Argos had a few special teams gaffes. One which came on an onside punt Hamilton executed very well on third down. The other came on a fake reverse.

Labour Day Classic Prediction

Confidence builder versus confidence killer.

Now that Montreal has cooled off with a second straight loss during Labour Day weekend. The Argonauts have a chance here to not only halt Hamilton’s momentum coming off last week. But they can create further distance in the East. And position themselves, to clinch the East with plenty of room to spare.

The Argos are starting a four-game divisional stretch in what is an uninterrupted ten consecutive weeks of play. An LDC victory will put Toronto one step closer to decreasing the importance of games at the tail end of their regular season schedule.

Because of league parity at the bottom end, Hamilton can withstand another loss to Toronto. But for morale’s sake, winning against the Boatmen at home can change the entire tone of what has been a rocky campaign thus far.

Seeing Toronto for a third time should help Orlando Steinauer and his staff.

I think Hamilton’s defence and special teams will keep this game close on Monday. If the Ti-Cats can play error-free on offence, and get their top offensive playmakers involved. Hamilton could pull off their second upset in a row.

Ultimately, I think Toronto will find a way to win. But they are going to have to play at a higher level defensively than they’ve shown in their last two outings.

Toronto Argonauts 23 Hamilton Tiger-Cats 19

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