Betting picks for Hamilton Tiger-Cats vs. B.C. Lions

Photo courtesy: Paul Yates/B.C. Lions

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats head to Vancouver on Saturday night for a feline fracas with the B.C. Lions. The Lions enter the game as a point favourite.

The Ticats suffered their most humiliating loss of the season last Thursday when they became the first team to fall to the Edmonton Elks, doing so in embarrassing fashion by a score of 24-10.

Hamilton’s offence was once again horrendous, only finding the end zone once and scoring just a single point in the entire second half. The defence was not much better, allowing three Edmonton majors in the first 30 minutes before stiffening and holding them to three points following an extended weather delay.

The Lions also lost a week ago, falling 34-29 to the Saskatchewan Roughriders last Sunday. The Leos staged a furious fourth-quarter rally, scoring 16 points to get the deficit down to two but could not complete the comeback.

These two teams have not played one another since last July when the Lions won 17-12. In that game, B.C.’s current backup quarterback Dane Evans started for the Tiger-Cats while Ticats’ running back James Butler was starring for the Leos. Barring injury, Evans will not play against his former club but Butler should see plenty of work against his old team.

This matchup will see the resistible force that is the Ticats’ offence going up against an immovable object in the Lions’ defence. The Tiger-Cats are near the bottom in most statistical categories, including points per game, where they sit eighth. The Lions meanwhile, have the league’s stingiest defence, allowing a league-best 18.7 per contest.

The Tabbies also pair their moribund offence with a sieve-like defence, another nightmare matchup as the Lions have one of the league’s most potent attacks. The Tiger-Cats allow the most points per game at nearly 28 a contest, while the Lions have scored the third-most points this season, averaging over 26 per game.

The Lions also have the league’s best passing attack, averaging over 300 yards through the air while the Ticats have been horrendous against the pass, allowing 272 yards per game — the third-worst mark in the CFL.

This game does not look to be one that will be particularly close. While some season-long trends do work in the Tiger-Cats’ favour, such as them being the better-rested team with three extra days off, you do not have to dig that deep to see how big of a mismatch this game truly is.

B.C. is one of the elite teams this season, neck and neck with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Toronto Argonauts as the top contenders for the Grey Cup, while Hamilton has barely scraped by Ottawa and Edmonton for their three wins.

The Lions have feasted on the league’s lightweights this season, a category the Tabbies fall in, shutting out the Elks twice and twice beating the Calgary Stampeders by double digits. Meanwhile, the Tiger-Cats have been absolutely obliterated by the league’s elite, going 0-5 against teams with records above .500 and losing by double digits in all five games.

Any way you slice it, I see no way the Tiger-Cats keep this one close, let alone win it. Even with that big spread, the Lions should cover it and then some. Take the home side against the spread and on the moneyline.

Deciding on total points is hard because we know the Lions can score and the Ticats can’t. There is every chance that the Leos will flirt with another shutout victory and while they could put 50 up on Hamilton, I don’t see them blowing them out by that much. Even if this is a comfortable 30-point win for the Lions, that might not be enough to hit the over on points. I will play it cautious here and take the under.

Spread: B.C. -10 (-110)
Moneyline: B.C. (-470)
Total points: under 46 (-110)

Josh Smith has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.