Not counting this year’s preseason tilt between Toronto and Hamilton. Friday’s game is the fifth time the Argos have played the Ticats in their last 13 contests. (regular season/playoffs).
CFL Week 12: Hamilton Tiger-Cats @ Toronto Argonauts Preview
- Location: BMO Field, Toronto, Ontario
- Date: Friday, August 26th, 2022
- Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
- Spread: Argonauts favored by 3 points. Over/Under: 48
- TV: TSN/ESPN+
- Weather: Early forecast on Friday calls for rain and gusty winds during the day. But the weather is supposed to clear up by evening kickoff. Mostly clear skies. Winds N at 10 to 20 mph.
This year, the home team has prevailed in this rivalry. In an eerily similar fashion.
On August 6th, the Argonauts overcame a two-score deficit at home and stormed past the Tiger-Cats 34-20. Thanks to big plays from Toronto’s special teams and an 18-point fourth quarter.
A week later, Hamilton gave Toronto a dose of their own medicine. The Ticats clawed their way back from behind at home, aided by big plays on special teams, and scored 17 fourth-quarter points to top the Argos 34-27.
Toronto and Hamilton feel like they are in the same position when this four-week season series started. Both teams are coming off tough losses last week, and their seasons are in flux. But a lot can change between the Ontario rivals in the next set of back-to-back games, especially if Hamilton or Toronto avoid another home and home split.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats Week 12 Depth Chart
The big news is that Dane Evans is back at QB after missing the last affair with Toronto. Matthew Shiltz will back him up. But expect the Ticats to deploy the same two-headed quarterback scheme they have had for quite some time.
Center Alex Fontana, who started last week against Montreal, will miss Friday’s game with a knee injury. The Toronto-born Coulter Woodmansey will take Fontana’s spot in the middle.
The Ticats are missing some critical pieces on the defensive side of the ball and special teams.
Defensively, Hamilton is without DB Ciante Evans and LB Simoni Lawrence. Rodney Randle Jr. and Kyle Wilson will replace Evans and Lawrence in the starting lineup. DT Dylan Wynn is penciled into the Ticats lineup but is a game-time decision.
The Ticats have two different starters at cornerback than they did a week ago against Montreal. Randle Jr. and Jumal Rolle are replacing Alden Darby and Des Lawrence on the outside.
Dynamic kick returner Lawrence Woods, who contributed over 200 return yards against Toronto two weeks ago, is sitting this game out due to a knee injury. Papi White will replace Woods on returns.
Toronto Argonauts Week 12 Depth Chart
RT Dejon Allen is suiting up despite dealing with an ongoing back injury. Toronto has only two linemen dressed in reserve. Shane Richards and Theren Churchill.
Toronto will not dress a fullback for Friday’s game as both Declan Cross and Joe Carbone are out of action. It will be interesting to see who the team deploys in tight formations. Reserve linemen or even a defensive player could be called upon to fill the lead blocker role in those sequences.
Former Ticat Ja’Gared Davis has been placed on the six-game injured list with a meniscus injury. Robbie Smith takes his place at DE. Recently signed Brandon Barlow is up from the practice roster to back him up.
Maurice Carnell IV will make his second straight start at boundary halfback in place of Robert Priester, who will be out again this week.
Keys To A Hamilton Victory
The last time these two teams met, the Tiger-Cats averaged seven yards per run play. Hamilton rushed 21 times for 149 yards and two touchdowns. Hamilton caught Toronto’s defence off guard and sprung large gains on the ground.
The Ticats have been at their best this season offensively when they stay committed to their ground attack. In wins against Montreal and Toronto, the Ticats have used a diversified run game to eclipse over 100 yards in each of those contests.
Slotback Tim White is coming into his own in the Ticats passing game. Since Bralon Addison went down against Toronto three weeks ago, White has led his team with 18 receptions for 222 yards and three touchdowns in the last two weeks. He went 7-77 with a score against the Boatmen in Week 10. The Tiger-Cats need to ride the hot hand and continue to feature White.
Defensively, Hamilton did a great job slowing down Toronto in Week 10 by consistently putting pressure on McLeod Bethel-Thompson. The Argos’ offensive line has allowed 16 sacks in their last four games played. Expect plenty of blitzing on early downs and man coverage.
Because of their poor play from a taped-together offensive line. Toronto is a one-dimensional team that can’t run the football. Getting a lead early would play into the Ticats favor. The Argos have struggled in obvious pass situations on second and long.
Special teams coordinator Craig Butler would love to repeat his unit’s efforts from two weeks ago against Toronto. He will have to do it without Lawrence Woods this time. But the Argos coverage units have shown many flaws that can be exploited again.
Keys To A Toronto Victory
The #1 key for Toronto is having their wide receivers win their matchups against man coverage. It’s an area where the Argos receiving corps has struggled for several weeks.
The Argonauts have to form some semblance of a running game to ease the burden on obvious passing downs. Ryan Dinwiddie needs to switch things up on offence. The team has become very predictable in its alignments and play-calling. Hamilton is seeing this offence for a third time now. The book is out on how to stop Double Blue.
The quick passing game has been a crutch out of necessity for weak line play. However, Toronto needs to find ways to make plays down the field. It will free up the underneath passing game and the rushing attack. Facing a team for the third time requires introducing new wrinkles.
Corey Mace’s defence has also lacked creativity. Opposing teams have found flaws in Toronto’s vanilla defensive alignment and have exploited them. Particularly on the ground gashing the Argos for long gains.
Toronto’s high-profile defensive linemen Shane Ray and Shawn Oakman need to make their presence felt against the run and pass. Both players have been invisible in their games against the Ticats. The Argos are last in the league in sacks. Dewayne Hendrix and Shawn Oakman match up well physically on the interior against Hamilton’s front. But the production hasn’t been there.
Both of the Ticats pivots have the ability to extend plays in the pocket. Toronto’s pass rush has to get home and finish plays in the backfield.
Mickey Donovan’s special teams were primarily responsible for Toronto’s meltdown in Hamilton two weeks ago. Especially the coverage units. Both Toronto and Hamilton have played primarily close games this season. Against each other, special teams are what won the day in the first two meetings. With a struggling offence, the Argonauts’ ST units can’t afford to repeat what they did in Hamilton.
CFL Week 12: Tiger-Cats @ Argonauts Prediction
After an 0-4 start, the Ticats are 3-3 in their last six games. They don’t have the feel of a team with the arrow pointed upward. Perhaps their trajectory is sideways right now. But facing a slumping Toronto team can change that.
On the flip side, the Argonauts feel like a team on a downward spiral. With each passing week, they continue to regress. A significant reason for that is the mounting losses of key players from their lineup every week, like Eric Rogers, Shaq Richardson, Andrew Harris, Ja’Gared Davis, etc.
Even though the home team has won each of these outings. Conventional wisdom based on how both squads are playing is that Hamilton will break from that trend and finally win their first road game of the year against a reeling Argonauts squad.
Typically in pro sports, your enemies tend to bring out the best in you. Toronto desperately needs to win this game at home against Hamilton to inject positivity into their fading season. All would be right in their world if Toronto got to 5-5 and gained a two-and-a-half-game lead over Hamilton heading into Labour Day.
But things feel very wrong right now for the Argonauts. Hamilton may not be all the way right yet, but they are catching Toronto at the right time. And they will inevitably catch the Argos in the standings simply because they are playing them.