CFL Preview - Hamilton (10-8) at Toronto (11-7)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor
DATE & TIME: Sunday, November 17, 1 p.m. (et).
GAME NOTES: The Toronto Argonauts take the field at Rogers Centre this weekend
in an effort to get back to the Grey Cup Championship, as they clash with the
Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the East Division Final.
Last season, Toronto was lucky to be in a position to just make the playoffs,
but the Argos are a perfect example of what can happen once the new season
begins, as they went from defeating Edmonton in the semi-finals (42-26), to
taking down Montreal in the division finals (27-20) in order to earn a berth
in the 100th Grey Cup. From there Toronto rolled over Calgary in a 35-22 final
in order to earn its 16th crown.
This time around the Argonauts made it a little easier on themselves by
winning the division title and earning a bye into this round of the playoffs.
Although, it should be noted that the division wasn't all that great in 2013,
as Winnipeg posted a mere three victories in 18 chances and Montreal had
difficulty keeping the same quarterback under center.
Speaking of the Alouettes, they were the ones who took on Hamilton in the
division semi-final last weekend at Alumni Stadium in Guelph under less than
perfect weather conditions. The Als led at halftime by a score of just 2-0,
leaving plenty of opportunity for the 'Cats to come out on top.
Hamilton produced just 291 yards of offense in the meeting, but somehow that
was enough to get the group to overtime where Dan LeFevour scored on a two-
yard TD run to give the visitors the 19-16 win. LeFevour, who stepped in for
Henry Burris during the most crucial part of the game, ended up being the
leading rusher for Hamilton with 61 yards on 18 carries. LeFevour also
converted three of his six pass attempts for 36 yards.
Meanwhile, Burris was rather ordinary in extraordinary conditions as he
connected on 23-of-36 passes for 204 yards and a score, as well as one
interception. The scoring strike went to C.J. Gable who caught four passes for
38 yards, while becoming less of a factor in the running game with only two
carries for minus-six yards.
Gable turned out to be the best option in the running game this season,
despite his lackluster performance last weekend, as he produced 782 yards and
scored seven times on 130 carries. The fourth-best ball-carrier in the regular
season, Gable was just as valuable if not more so as a receiver as he caught
another 55 balls for 600 yards and two TDs as well.
Even with his struggles in the first playoff game of the season, Burris was
still the most productive passer in the league in terms of yards (4,927)
during the regular season, and while his 65.8 percent accuracy ranked among
the best, his 19 interceptions was more than anyone else. Then again, could
you blame Burris for the latter after letting fly a CFL-high 568 pass
While Hamilton is coming off a rigorous and challenging playoff bout with the
Alouettes, Toronto has had the luxury of sitting back and watching the action
while awaiting its next opponent. However, with that said, not all is perfect
in Argo country right now.
Toronto was dealt a huge blow earlier this week when it was announced that
running back Chad Kackert underwent surgery to repair a broken ankle and is
now done for the year. Kackert, the 2012 Grey Cup MVP, suffered the injury in
practice last week, just another hit during an injury-filled campaign that saw
the running back miss game time due to a knee injury, shoulder problems and a
With Kackert out of the mix, the Argos will turn to Jerious Norwood and Curtis
Steele to pick up the slack.
But no matter who is filling the void, the main man on the field will still be
Ricky Ray who himself missed considerable time this season with an injury.
Despite the time off the field, when he was in the huddle and in the pocket
there was no one who had as much control as Ray as he completed a staggering
77.2 percent of his passes and tossed a mere two interceptions on 303
As an offense, Toronto ranked third in the league this season in scoring with
28.2 ppg, tallying a league-best 36 touchdowns, but the unit will also need
the defense to stand up and perform just as it has all season long in
permitting just 25.4 ppg.
These two teams should be familiar with each other after playing a total of
three times during the regular season, with the Tiger-Cats winning the last
two of those encounters. Hamilton bowed in the first clash in Week 1 by a
score of 39-34 in late June, but then bounced back with a 33-19 victory the
first week of October, followed 10 days later by a 24-18 triumph.
In the most recent battle, Hamilton controlled the clock for more than 37
minutes as Burris threw for 350 yards and three touchdowns and Gable carried
the ball 17 times for a game-high 118 yards and a major. Over on the other
side, Ray was back in the saddle for the Argos by then and connected on 26-
of-34 passes for 303 yards and two scores, but while Toronto was generating a
mere 349 yards of total offense, Hamilton was coming up with a whopping 545
yards on 21 more snaps.
The winner of this meeting will be back in action next weekend with the
opportunity to take home the 101st Grey Cup, matching up with the survivor of
the Saskatchewan/Calgary bout at Mosaic Stadium.
Hamilton's recent history in the Grey Cup Playoffs hasn't been all that great.
In fact, the team has not been to the title tilt since 1999 when it defeated
Calgary (32-21) for its eighth championship, and given that Toronto knows the
road quite well and earned some much-needed time off, expect to see the Argos
moving on to defend their title from last season.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toronto 28, Hamilton 24
11/13 11:22:07 ET
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