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CFL Week 9: Hamilton Tiger-Cats @ Toronto Argonauts Preview/Prediction

Week 9 of the CFL season sees the 2-5 Hamilton Tiger-Cats and 3-3 Toronto Argonauts square off in the first of four head-to-head clashes over the next five weeks. The Argos and Ti-cats are looking to change the fortunes of their seasons at the expense of one another.

CFL Week 9: Hamilton Tiger-Cats @ Toronto Argonauts Preview

  • Location: BMO Field, Toronto, Ontario
  • DateSaturday, August 6th, 2022
  • Kickoff7:00 p.m. ET
  • Spread: Argonauts favored by 2.5 points. Over/Under: 46
  • Mostly clear skies. Low near 70F. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph.

As Heath Ledger’s Joker famously told Batman in The Dark Knight. “I think you and I are destined to do this forever.” By the time Hamilton and Toronto’s quartet of games against each other conclude on Labour Day a month from now. It will feel like the nearly 150-year rivals have played each other for 150 years straight.

Save for a brief hiccup in Week 11 when Hamilton takes a detour and heads to Montreal, while Toronto stays at home to play Calgary. The infamous Battle of the QEW will consume the lives of all Toronto and Hamilton supporters for the next month. And when the bell finally rings on this four-round fight, the victor could earn the spoils of the East by knocking the other out of contention.

In some respects, the 2022 version of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts are mirror images. Two teams with lofty aspirations whose seasons haven’t gone exactly as planned.

After making it to the Grey Cup two seasons in a row, Hamilton is 2-5 after seven games. But the Ti-Cats can start to turn their entire season around by besting the Boatmen this Saturday.

Despite their struggles, playing in their favor is that Hamilton is 2-0 within the division. But they have yet to win on the road this year. A victory over Toronto at BMO could finally put the Ti-Cats back on their elusive championship path.

The East-Leading Argos’ hold on the division is a tenuous one. Notwithstanding their 3-3 record, Toronto has dangerously flirted with disaster every week. Save for a game-saving interception for a touchdown in Nova Scotia, a late rally in Regina against a depleted Riders team, and a missed chip shot field goal in their home opener. Toronto could easily be 0-6 at this point.

A year ago, the Argos were effectively undefeated at home during the regular season for all intents and purposes. But the Argonauts haven’t been the same at home since their East Final loss to Hamilton last December, and they are currently 1-2 at BMO Field.

Last year’s East Final loss at the hands of Hamilton set off a chain of events that would shape the current version of the Boatmen. The Argos took to heart their demoralizing defeat and tried to change the soul of their team. The goal was to get to where Hamilton has been competing for a CFL Championship for the last two seasons.

Despite all their high-profile acquisitions in the offseason, which coincidentally included two prominent Ti-Cats in DE JaGared Davis and Brandon Banks. The Argonauts haven’t played like a championship contender this season, and it’s now or never for them.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats Week 9 Depth Chart

Superstar LB Simoni Lawrence returns to Hamilton’s lineup right on cue to play the archrival Argos. Despite dealing with a knee injury, dynamic returner Lawrence Woods is good to go for Saturday’s game.

Hamilton is relatively healthy coming into this game. However, they are missing arguably their best linemen, former Argonauts OL Chris Van Zeyl. Another former Argo, DB Alden Darby, is out and will not face his former team, at least until next week.

Toronto Argonauts Week 9 Depth Chart

Toronto has a handful of players who had been listed as questionable ahead of Saturday. But defensive back Shaquille Richardson (shoulder), offensive lineman Justin Lawrence (shoulder), defensive lineman Shane Ray (quad), linebacker Wynton McManis (neck), and receiver Cam Phillips (wrist) will be suiting up for the Double Blue against Hamilton.

However, RT Dejon Allen is out this week with a back injury. He has been placed on the one-game injured list. Shane Richards will replace him. Without Allen, Trevon Tate, and Isiah Cage, Toronto is very thin on their offensive line. Rookie C Braydon Noll has been elevated from the practice roster and will team with Theren Churchill in reserve.

WR DaVaris Daniels returns to the lineup after missing week 8 with a head injury. He will be joined by Eric Rogers, who is making his 2022 debut for the Boatmen. The last time Rogers was in uniform for the Argos was the East Final against Hamilton, where he went down to injury.

CFL Week 9: Hamilton Tiger-Cats @ Toronto Argonauts Keys

Statistically, Toronto and Hamilton have virtually the same numbers on offense and defense.

Dane Evans has had an up and down season thus far, throwing nine touchdowns and nine interceptions. And committing several costly mistakes along the way. But seeing Double Blue could revive his season.

Arguably, Evans’s most outstanding moment in the CFL came at the expense of Toronto the last time these two teams met. Evans rallied Hamilton to another Grey Cup by coming off the bench, going 16/16 for 249 yards, and scoring three touchdowns.

Corey Mace’s defense would love to avoid the hero version of Evans and face the mere mortal that has been on the pivot for Hamilton in 2022.

The Ti-Cats offensive line has played better in recent weeks after struggling earlier in the season. They have allowed only one sack in their last two outings.

Toronto has the horses up front with the emerging Shane Ray and CFL All-Star Shawn Oakman. But the player who has yet to make his presence felt is former Tiger Cat JaGared Davis. The Argos brought him on for games like this. Perhaps Davis can be the same difference maker he was last December, only this time while wearing Double Blue.

Hamilton is starting to show some signs of life in their dormant ground game with a healthy Don Jackson slowly returning to form. The Argos will need to key on him, especially coming out of the backfield.

Another Ti-Cat who is slowly making his way back is Bralon Addison. He hasn’t been the type of player he was in 2019. But he hasn’t had to be with the emergence of Steven Dunbar and Tim White. Dunbar has emerged as one of the CFL’s best playmakers at receiver. The Argos secondary needs to do a better job of keying in on an opponent’s best target a week after former Ticat Jaelon Acklin embarrassed them.

Toronto’s offense has had issues finishing drives and scoring in enemy territory. A recurring theme carried over from last year’s East Final against the Ti-Cats. Hamilton defensive coordinator Mark Washington gave opposing teams the blueprint for playing Ryan Dinwiddie’s offense in close quarters. Will Dinwiddie finally crack the code?

Andrew Harris is fourth in the CFL in rushing. But his numbers have fluctuated from week to week. Harris has yet to score a TD this season. Expect Hamilton to employ the same run blitzing strategy that Ottawa had a week ago to force Toronto into second and long plays.

Toronto needs to win at WR in the passing game. Especially because of their injuries on the offensive line. It’s something that Hamilton will try and exploit, as Ottawa did last week with four sacks.

The Argos have reinforcements back in their lineup at receiver. Specifically, Eric Rogers, who could provide a boost in the red zone. But if there ever was a week for Brandon Banks to make a difference, this is it. It’s worth noting that Banks is not in the starting lineup against his former team. But he should have a role on offense and the return game.

Hamilton has a different look on special teams than in years past, with Craig Butler as their special teams’ coordinator. But the Ti-Cats are still getting big plays from their return game despite departures on their staff and roster. Conversely, Toronto has arguably the worst return game in the CFL, and this area could provide Hamilton a decided advantage on Saturday.

CFL Week 9: Hamilton Tiger-Cats @ Toronto Argonauts Prediction

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have had to scratch and claw their way through every game. Nothing has come easy for them in 2022. Primarily because of inconsistencies on offense.

Hamilton lost games early in the year in questionable fashion. See Edmonton and Calgary. But the Ti-Cats have played better in recent weeks. They have won two of their last three games. And their lone defeat in that stretch was a five-point 17-12 loss on the road against BC, where they kept the Lions’ potent offense in check.

Toronto is the most challenging team to comprehend. You never know what to expect from them every week. Despite their talent level, something’s been a miss all season long. The Argos have the tendencies of a bad team that runs hot and cold in every game they play. They consistently beat themselves with self-inflicted errors. Until that trend gets resolved, there’s very little reason to believe that they will flip the switch and change their identity.

Hamilton has the psychological edge over Toronto. And the Argos have very little to zero home-field advantage. Barring turnovers and special teams scores. I expect a low-scoring affair, but when push comes to shove. The Ti-Cats will take round one in the 2022 version of the Battle of the QEW.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats 19 Toronto Argonauts 17

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Mike Mitchell Reporter
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