Week 6 of the CFL season kicks off on Friday night with an immediate rematch from Monday’s Labour Day Classic. The Toronto Argonauts (2-2) look to bounce back at home from a humbling loss to their hated Eastern rivals, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2-2).
Hamilton Tiger-Cats @ Toronto Argonauts Week 6 Preview
Monday’s measuring stick game in the East for the Argos didn’t go as planned. The Ti-Cats sunk the Boatmen’s ship in a decisive 32-19 victory in the LDC. Hamilton sent an emphatic statement that the East is still theirs to win until further notice.
The Tiger-Cats and Argonauts are currently in a three-way tie with Montreal at 2-2. But Hamilton’s back-to-back victories over Montreal and Toronto have given them an early edge in the division. The Ti-Cats sweeping through this home and home series with Toronto would do some serious damage to the Argos hopes for this season.
The Argos get a chance for revenge at BMO Field Friday at 7:30 pm ET. The LDC rematch will air on TSN and ESPN Plus.
BetRegal, the CFL’s sponsored sportsbook, has Hamilton as 3.5 point road favorites in the Six. That line could change with the recent news that Hamilton superstar receiver Brandon Banks will be missing the contest. (More on that later). The over/under total for the Argos-Tiger Cats game is 44.5 points.
In recent times, Hamilton has dominated Toronto in the regular season, winning all seven of their previous meetings. Hamilton leads the all-time series record over Toronto. In 314 games played between the two long-time rivals. The Tiger-Cats lead the series 168-137, with 9 ties.
This is the second of four meetings between the Argonauts and Tiger-Cats this season.
Toronto Argonauts Week 6 Depth Chart/Injury Report
- The good news is that Starting WR Ricky Collins returns to the Argos lineup after missing Monday’s game due to COVID protocol issues.
- The bad news for Toronto is that they will be missing three key starters in Friday’s game.
- WR/KR Daniel Braverman is out with an ankle injury. Kurleigh Gittens Jr. will remain in the starting lineup after an impressive Labour Day showing with six receptions for 88 yards. No word yet on who will replace Braverman returning kicks and punts. The team has inserted Ricky Collins and Chris Edwards in those roles at points during this season. WR Chandler Worthy is back on the active roster. So the assumption is that he could assume those duties.
- C Philip Blake will miss Friday’s game because of a hamstring injury he sustained in Monday’s game. Rookie Peter Nicastro will slide over from guard and make his first start on the pivot. 2019 First-round pick Shane Richards makes his first start in a long time at left guard. Theren Churchill has been called up from the practice roster to provide depth along with Dylan Giffen.
- DB Crezdon Butler is out against Hamilton. Replacing him on the back end of the defense will be Josh Hagerty. The rookie struggled last week. So he will be someone to monitor closely during the game. Hamilton will target him.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats Week 6 Depth Chart/Injury Report
- Hamilton has two significant players missing Friday’s game.
- WR Brandon ‘Speedy B’ Banks has officially been ruled out for the LDC rematch in Toronto. The Ti-Cats haven’t specified Banks injury but he is currently listed on their 1-game injured list. Hamilton is already missing CFL standout Bralon Addison. So the team has inserted Papi White into the starting lineup. He will line up with fellow CFL rookies, Tim White and Steven Dunbar at receiver. Both White and Dunbar have made quite an impression in their early CFL careers but more will be expected of them pushing forward.
- Starting DB Ciante Evans is also out of Friday’s contest with Toronto. The Ti-Cats will have Frankie Williams at HB. And former XFL defensive backs Anthoula Kelly and Channing Stribling will be in the lineup after being out on Monday.
- RB Don Jackson is out. Sean Thomas-Erlington will continue to carry the mail in Hamilton’s backfield.
The Argos Offense Versus The Ti-Cats Defense
On Monday, Hamilton’s defensive coordinator Mark Washington had all the right answers for Ryan Dinwiddie and Jarius Jackson’s offense. Facing the same opponent twice in a five-day span creates an interesting dilemma for both sides. For Hamilton, the decision is to go with what worked in the first meeting or change up their calls and looks to throw Toronto off.
Going into the LBD, each coaching staff prepared an install for both games, as Ryan Dinwiddie told me on Wednesday, because of the short time to prepare for round two. Any alterations would be a mini-reset at best.
Toronto made some adjustments last week in the second half and scored two late touchdowns. But it’s hard to gauge whether or not it was the product of the game already being decided.
Playing at home should help Toronto, and they must get back to running the football as well as they did in weeks 2 and 3. Expect a heavier dose of John White and DJ Foster than Hamilton received on Monday.
The loss of Philip Blake for Toronto could be problematic. The Argos had their fair share of issues on Monday when he left the game due to injury. Peter Nicastro needs to play better at Center than he did last week.
The Argos offense has gone through long stretches in games of inactivity. The team needs to get off to a better start at home. They can’t afford to go through lulls. The forecast calls for minimal wind at BMO; on Monday, the swirling wind in Hamilton played a significant factor. So Toronto might be able to air the football out, provided that the offensive line gives Arbuckle time to throw.
The Argos Defense Versus The Ti-Cats Offense
All season long, Toronto’s defense has been their most consistent and best overall unit. The team has played without several key players on their defensive line. Defensive Coordinator Glen Young has played a bend but don’t break style on defense. What’s been missing from Toronto’s defense is forcing turnovers and getting to the quarterback.
Toronto has only six sacks in four games and has forced only three interceptions. Playing at home could assist Toronto’s defense. In Week 5, Dane Evans played a very composed game, completing 72 percent of his passes with 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Hamilton is 2-0 with him as the starter. The Ti-Cats won 15 games in 2019, with Evans going 10-3, including the playoffs.
Many thought that perhaps, Evans was a product of the talent around him and the system. But in 2021, he has been without a key starter on the offensive line like Chris Van Zeyl, WR Bralon Addison, and will now be without Brandon Banks. Evans is getting the job done with CFL rookie receivers like Tim White and Steven Dunbar. Next man up, Papi White.
Toronto needs not to let Evans sit in the pocket and find time to throw deep. With Crezdon Butler out, Hamilton will challenge rookie Josh Hagerty. It’s a big week for Toronto’s defense. They need to eliminate the big play and produce some big plays of their own.
Toronto’s Special Teams Matchup With Hamilton
The Argos special teams were outclassed and outcoached by Jeff Reinebold and his elite special teams unit this past Monday. In close games, it’s the Ti-Cats special team’s units that usually tilt the scale of victory into their favor.
Toronto’s special teams’ units made mental and physical mistakes in the Labour Day Classic. 7 of the team’s nine penalties came from their ST unit. Hamilton doesn’t beat themselves in this area. Toronto has.
Frankie Williams is the most dangerous returner in the CFL. And last week, he put the nail in Double Blue’s coffin with a back-breaking 67-yard punt return for a major. The Boatmen need to keep him at bay.
Toronto’s return game was anemic in week 5, specifically on punts, averaging 0.8 yards on five returns. It must’ve been hard for Michael ‘Pinball’ Clemons to watch. This week, it appears that Chandler Worthy could be in line to return some kicks. The Argos need to flip field position in their favor with positive returns and by limiting penalties.
LDC Rematch Prediction
This is a must-win game for Toronto. The pressure is clearly on them to hold serve at home. The result could significantly change the complexion of the Argos season. A victory will place Toronto on top of the East at 3-2. It will also show the character that the Boatmen are made of, to be able to bounce back from a humbling loss at the hands of Hamilton.
However, a loss could significantly damage not only the team’s psyche but also its playoff hopes in 2021. The Argos are headed to Saskatchewan in week 7 and then follow that up with a home game against Montreal. Toronto could be coming back home at 2-4, staring at the possibility of 2-5 when they face Vernon Adams and the Alouettes.
Despite the oddsmakers favoring Hamilton on the road. All signs point to a Toronto victory at home. The Double Blue will be highly motivated with something to prove after the bitter taste left in their mouth from Monday’s loss. The absence of Brandon Banks will change how the Argos defense plays Hamilton’s offense. Banks, even when he doesn’t have the ball in his hands, is a game-changer because opposing teams do everything in their power to slow him down. Freeing up opportunities for other players to shine.
Hamilton is fully capable of beating Toronto. Even without Banks. They have done it a lot in recent years. And there’s no doubt that they have the psychological edge over the Argos. It won’t be easy. But for at least one day, Toronto will finally get the better of their rivals at home. We will see what happens when both rivals meet again on October 11th.
Finals Score: Toronto Argonauts 22 Hamilton Tiger-Cats 21
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