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CFL Preview - Hamilton (6-7) at Toronto (9-4)



From The Sports Network

By Gregg Xenakes, CFL Editor

DATE & TIME: Friday, October 4, 7:00 p.m. (et).

GAME NOTES: With a spot in the postseason already secured, the Toronto Argonauts now turn their attention to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as the two teams get together on Friday night at Rogers Centre.

The Argonauts, even without key performers like Ricky Ray and Chad Owens, have been tearing it up as of late, winning four straight in order to put considerable distance between themselves and the rest of the East Division. In fact, the team has even established league records by winning four straight games in as many weeks away from home, thanks to a 34-22 triumph over Edmonton last week at Commonwealth Stadium.

Toronto had just a single point at intermission and trailed 22-1 in the third quarter before mounting the comeback bid, putting up 33 unanswered in the team's fourth straight come-from-behind victory.

Toronto running back Chad Kackert scored a pair of touchdowns, accounting for 155 yards on the ground. Quarterback Zach Collaros threw for just 152 yards and a major on 17-of-32 passing, while Marcus Ball returned an interception 57 yards for a score in the final minute to put the game out of reach.

Toronto has won a franchise-record six road games this season and is 9-0 when scoring at least 30 points. The team can clinch a home playoff game with a win this week and should the Argos come out victorious and Montreal also fall to Edmonton, the team would capture first place in the division with several weeks of action still to come.

As for the Tiger-Cats, a team which is sitting in second place in the East Division, but six points behind Toronto, there is still hope for the postseason, but the squad will need a little bit of help.

In order for Hamilton to sew up a spot in the playoffs, it must not only defeat Toronto, but at the same time have both Winnipeg and Edmonton bow to their opponents in Week 15 action.

The last time out, Hamilton scored the first points of the meeting against visiting Calgary, but then saw the Stampeders rip off 17 straight and eventually lead by a 17-4 score at the break, en route to a 35-11 victory on the road over the 'Cats.

Alternating wins and losses over the last five games, Hamilton saw both Henry Burris and Dan LeFevour get considerable time under center, combining for five interceptions and less than 250 yards through the air. Neither signal caller threw a touchdown pass, although LeFevour did make it into the end zone on a one-yard run in the third quarter.

Burris, who was sacked twice, entered last week's contest with 50,367 career passing yards and needed just 169 more to move past Ron Lancaster (50,535 yards) to become the fourth-leading passer in CFL history, but he ended up with just 134 yards before heading to the bench in the third quarter.

C.J. Gable, a rookie running back out of USC, had his best game yet for the Ticats as he carried the ball 13 times for a career-high 132 yards, but still that wasn't nearly enough to offset all of the turnovers suffered by Hamilton. With 569 yards on 92 carries here in 2013, Gable currently sits fifth on the leader board for rushing yards in the CFL.

As well as Gable ran the ball last week, Hamilton is still a team that takes its cues from Burris, although his mounting mistakes are beginning to overshadow his league-leading 3,899 passing yards and .659 completion percentage. Burris is third in the league in TD passes with 20, but at the same time he has 15 INTs, most among regular starters.

While the Tiger-Cats operate with a seasoned veteran at the helm, Toronto continues to go to battle with Collaros calling the shots, while Ray remains on the injured list. Collaros, who has four rushing TDs this season, is connecting on about two-thirds of his pass attempts and has an efficiency rating of 100.3, reducing his mistakes along the way in order to push the Argos to the top of the standings.

This is the first of back-to-back meetings for the teams, with another encounter set for 10 days from now in Hamilton. The 'Cats own a 123-91-2 advantage in the all-time, regular-season series dating back to 1950, but it was Toronto that captured a 39-34 victory in the most recent matchup when the teams kicked off the 2013 slate against each other in late June.

Toronto has won four straight and five of the last six battles in the series.

With so much still to be playing for, the Tiger-Cats can not get ahead of themselves on Friday night, but if Burris tries to force the issue and is handled by the Toronto defense, expect yet another victory for the Argonauts.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Toronto 30, Hamilton 26

10/02 10:44:54 ET