Hamilton visits Toronto in East Division showdown

Oct 22, 2014 - 3:52 PM Toronto, ON (SportsNetwork.com) - The battle for postseason action remains a heated debate for a couple of East Division members, as the Hamilton Tiger- Cats clash with the Toronto Argonauts at Rogers Centre on Saturday afternoon.

While games are still decided on the field, there have been some predictions made based on statistical simulations with respect to how likely it is Hamilton or Toronto will win the division title. Heading into Week 18 action the Tiger-Cats, who are currently tied with Montreal for first place with a record of 7-8, have a 51.65 percent chance of winning the crown in the division, while the Argos are at 8.55 percent, having seen their prospects dwindle after losing to the Alouettes last weekend.

Against Montreal, the Argonauts saw their three-game win streak come to an end in a 20-12 final at home. Now two points behind the Als and Ticats, Toronto failed to reach the end zone last week and had to rely on kicker Swayze Waters to give them even the most remote chance of survival, as he knocked through all four of his field goal attempts.

Quarterback Ricky Ray threw for 202 yards on 25-of-39 passing, his favorite target again being Chad Owens who caught seven balls for 77 yards. Owens added another 74 yards on six punt returns as well, but it made little difference in the end.

The Argos finished with 290 yards of total offense and handcuffed themselves by being flagged 13 times for a loss of 133 yards. Then again, those penalty numbers were actually better than Montreal (18 for 165), which should have given the hosts at least a fighting chance.

Meanwhile, Hamilton is a squad that won only once through the first seven games of the campaign, and still the Tiger-Cats are in a position to represent the East Division in the postseason. Since the sluggish start, Hamilton has won six of the last eight, one of those being a 16-6 triumph over Ottawa at home last week.

Defensively, the 'Cats limited the RedBlacks to only 201 yards of total offense and kept the visitors out of the end zone. Hamilton held Ottawa to just 11 first downs and watched the newest addition to the league suffer through 15 penalties for a loss of 100 yards.

Quarterback Zach Collaros wound up going 17-of-31 for 171 yards and a score, but he was also picked off once and sacked four times. Thankfully, kicker Justin Medlock, who gave away two points when he conceded in the end zone, contributed a pair of field goals in order to give the hosts some breathing room.

Just 1-6 in road games this season, Hamilton has relied on Medlock quite a bit in recent weeks and as a result the kicker is second in the league in scoring with 154 points, trailing only Waters who has produced 161 points. These two teams are tied for the most field goals heading into action this week with 39 apiece. At the same time, Hamilton is one of two teams (Winnipeg) that has yet to record a single in 2014.

With one of the top quarterbacks in league history at the helm, one would think that Toronto would not need to rely so much on kicking points, but that just happens to be the case right now even with Ray leading the CFL with 4,063 passing yards and 27 aerial majors. Taking almost every one of his team's snaps, Ray has completed 68.3 percent of his passes and owns an efficiency rating of 95.6.

As a unit, Hamilton is second in the league in passing with 4,087 yards, but has almost as many INTs (14) as TDs (15) currently.

The teams have split the first two meetings of the season, with Hamilton slipping by in a 13-12 decision at home back on Sept. 1, while Toronto returned the favor in Week 16 action by pulling out a one-point win as well, 34-33.

In that latest matchup, Toronto scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter as the Argonauts completed their biggest comeback of the season in front of the hometown crowd at Rogers Centre.

The Argos trailed by double figures for much of the night before outscoring the visitors, 21-3, in the final frame. Ray converted 34-of-46 passes for 431 yards and logged three touchdowns through the air, as well as a short major on the ground.

Owens, who was averaging more than 100 yards receiving heading into the meeting, caught six balls for 109 yards, including the game-winner which measured 69 yards in the final minutes.

Collaros gave everything he had for the Tiger-Cats, throwing for 302 yards, converting 23-of-32 pass attempts, and two TDs of his own, not to mention a rushing score in the second period, but the team still saw a four-game win streak come to an end.

With the victory earlier this month, Toronto snapped a three-game slide in the series, but still the Argos trail Hamilton by a count of 126-92-2 in regular- season battles dating back to 1950.

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