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CFL Preview - Hamilton (5-10) at Calgary (9-6)



From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 20, 7:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: Still fighting for a spot in the postseason, the Hamilton Tiger- Cats find themselves matched up against the Calgary Stampeders on Saturday night at McMahon Stadium.

The chances of Hamilton making it into the playoffs remain slim, given the team's mere 5-10 mark after 15 games, but it is not completely out of the realm of possibility at this stage. However, the team needs to finish strong these final few weeks in order to turn that dream into a reality.

Unfortunately, Hamilton hasn't done itself any favors in recent weeks by losing two straight and three of the last four contests, pushing it to third place in the East Division standings with a mere 10 points.

Over on the other side, Calgary already knows that a spot in the playoffs is secure, thanks to a 9-6 mark and a second-place spot in the West Division standings behind only British Columbia. Last week the team took out the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 32-21, for their second victory in the last three outings.

The Stampeders opened with a 16-point burst in the first quarter at Winnipeg and led by a 26-14 score at the break, en route to the double-digit triumph as quarterback Kevin Glenn converted 21-of-29 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns, shaking off three sacks along the way. Marquay McDaniel caught a total of six passes for 73 yards and a score, while Nik Lewis turned his four receptions into another 71 yards and a major as well.

Jon Cornish bulled his way to a game-high 87 rushing yards and crossed the goal line once on 22 carries for a team that managed to survive a total of 10 penalties that set them back 98 yards.

While Calgary was able to get off to a quick start last week on the road, the same could not be said for the Tiger-Cats who managed just three points through the first three quarters in front of their hometown fans, eventually leading to a 37-17 setback versus British Columbia which is not on the verge of securing the best possible position for the playoffs.

The biggest problem for Hamilton was the team's defense having to spend so much time on the field, just under 40 minutes, as it allowed 476 yards to the visitors, limiting the opportunities quarterback Henry Burris may have had. Burris finished the meeting 22-of-31 for 225 yards and a touchdown, an 11-yard effort to Bakari Grant in the fourth quarter.

Running back Avon Cobourne, who reportedly had questioned the efforts of some of his teammates just a day earlier, logged a team-best 56 rushing yards and scored once on his seven carries in the losing effort. Oddly enough, while Cobourne is seventh in the league in overall rushing with 620 yards, averaging 6.5 yards per attempt, his touchdown last week was just his second of the season so perhaps he needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror before putting his pads on for this week's encounter.

While Cobourne has been a stranger to the end zone for the most part in 2012, the same cannot be said for Cornish who leads the league with 10 rushing scores and is also first in the CFL in yards with 1,275, just one of two players to have eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark through 15 games. While he hasn't been utilized nearly enough in the passing game, Cornish is also third in the league in yards from scrimmage with just under 1,500.

While Cornish has been a serviceable receiver, considering how much time he spends on the field, the real spark in that department continues to be Lewis who is tied for the most catches in the league with 88, his 1,095 yards and nine touchdowns placing him second in both categories as Week 17 action approaches.

A member of the Stampeders since breaking into the league back in 2004 after being a standout performer at Southern Arkansas University, Lewis has never failed to register at least 1,000 yards receiving in a season and needs just one more touchdown grab to tie his career high set back in 2008. With six more catches he'll also establish a new career best for receptions in a season as well.

In terms of the all-time series between these two squads, Calgary is ahead by a count of 52-30, when taking into account only regular-season matchups dating back to 1950. The Stamps won the most recent battle in early August by a score of 31-20 on the road which means they have now taken five of the last six encounters overall versus the 'Cats.

Obviously the pressure is mounting on the Tiger-Cats to finish the regular season strong, but it appears the team may have run out of inspiration some time ago and now it is time for the big boys of the CFL to take over.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Calgary 35, Hamilton 20

10/17 11:50:06 ET

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