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CFL Preview - Calgary (2-3) at Hamilton (3-2)

From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Thursday, August 9, 7:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: The top team in the East Division of the CFL matches up with the last place club over in the West Division on Thursday night, as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats entertain the Calgary Stampeders in week 7 action at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

In just a few short weeks the Tiger-Cats have gone from a winless team after two games to taking control of the division thanks to a three-game win streak. Since dropping the season opener to Saskatchewan, 43-16, the offense for Hamilton has been on a tear, the team scoring no less than 35 points in any one outing. Because of that, the Ticats are currently the top scoring team in the league with an average of 32.4 ppg.

During the first month of the season, Calgary was also scoring at an alarming rate, putting up at least 32 points in each of the first four contests, but even then the team was just 2-2. In the most recent outing, the squad went from posting a season-best 41 points in an overtime victory against Saskatchewan on July 19 at home, to tallying a season-low 8 points in a 26-point setback versus British Columbia nine days later.

Even with the lackluster effort the last time out, Calgary is still second in scoring with 31.0 ppg.

More than anything against BC in Week 5 action, it was the defense of the Stamps that let them down, allowing the Lions to produce 161 yards on the ground and another 315 yards through the air.

While the offense has been putting up solid numbers more often than not for Calgary, the defense has been slacking, giving up 30.8 ppg and that, on average is simply cutting it too close.

Also a key issue for the Stampeders has been their turnover margin, which currently stands at minus-seven due to being tied for the second-most giveaways in the league with 14.

Going up against his former team in this meeting will be Calgary quarterback Kevin Glenn, who had been on the Hamilton roster since 2009 before being traded in the offseason. Glenn, who threw for more than 12,000 yards and 70 touchdowns in three years with the Tiger-cats, has the best completion percentage (.703) of any active starter in the CFL heading into the seventh week of action.

Making Glenn look good has been Nic Lewis as he ranks third in the league with 444 yards receiving on 38 catches, and he is easily first in the CFL in receiving touchdowns with 6.

While he may not get as much press as some of his teammates, having caught just 6 passes for 73 yards and a single major, Larry Taylor is making a huge statement of his own with 1,132 combined yards which is second only to Toronto's Chad Owens who has played an additional game.

A bit further down on the list for the most combined yards in the league is Hamilton's Chris Williams, who has delivered 906 yards through five games as well. An import from New Mexico State, Williams already has 30 catches for 387 yards and 3 touchdowns which isn't bad considering he finished last season with 70 grabs for 1,064 yards and just 6 majors through the air.

As part of the deal that sent Glenn to the Stamps, Hamilton quarterback Henry Burris also has good reason to be pumped up for this meeting against his former club. A league MVP while on the Calgary roster a few years back, Burris has thrown for more than 700 yards and a total of 8 touchdowns, without a single interception over the last two games. Burris is also now the CFL leader in passing scores with 15, all of them coming in the last four outings after being shut out in the opener against Saskatchewan.

During the first week of August last season Calgary delivered a 32-20 triumph at home over the Ticats, and then in late September Hamilton returned the favor with a lopsided 55-36 final in Moncton.

The Stamps have now won 4 of the last 5 in the series and 6 of the last 8, leading them to a 51-30 edge over Hamilton dating back to the 1950 campaign and taking into account only regular-season meetings.

The squads are set to clash once more during the 2012 regular season on October 20 in Calgary.

The incentive for Burris to play well against his former team is more than enough to propel him and the 'Cats into the win column once more this week, and having the home crowd backing him certainly won't hurt either.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Hamilton 39, Calgary 27

08/08 13:09:48 ET

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