The Hamilton Tiger-Cats head to the nation’s capital on Friday night to take on the Ottawa Redblacks at TD Place. The Redblacks enter the game as point favourites.
The Ticats come into this game fresh off having lost their biggest regular season game of the year to their biggest rival, falling 41-28 to the Toronto Argonauts in Monday’s Labour Day Classic. The score of that game actually flattered the Tabbies as they were thoroughly outplayed from start to finish, only making it close when the outcome was already decided.
The Tiger-Cats also dealt with some off-field distractions this week after receiver Duke Williams posted on social media that he was done with the team after being informed he would not play this week. Williams was placed on the six-game injured list on Thursday when the team’s depth chart was released.
Losing Williams is not a massive blow to the Tiger-Cats’ offence but it is still a noteworthy subtraction from the roster. Williams had not been a featured player on offence despite the team needing veteran players to step up to help rookie starter Taylor Powell. The first-year Ticat caught 36 balls for 510 yards and one touchdown in 11 games this season. Rookie Omar Bayless will take Williams’ spot in the starting lineup.
Meanwhile, the Redblacks sat back and enjoyed a nice week off as they watched the two teams ahead of them in the East Division standings, the Ticats and Montreal Alouettes, both lose over Labour Day weekend. The last-place Redblacks will need to go on a mini-run beginning on Friday if they hope to make the playoffs for the first time since losing in the Grey Cup to the Calgary Stampeders in 2018.
Hamilton has had a lot of success against the Redblacks in recent years, winning nine straight games between the two teams with the most recent Ottawa victory taking place in the 2018 East Final. That playoff loss was also the last time Hamilton tasted defeat in Ottawa, as they have won in each of their last four trips to the nation’s capital.
Hamilton’s current winning streak over the Redblacks includes two victories earlier this season, with the Ticats winning 21-13 at Tim Hortons Field on July 8 and 16-12 in Ottawa on July 28. Thanks to those two wins, the Tabbies have secured the season series over the Redblacks. A third win on Friday would give some renewed life to Hamilton’s playoff hopes and bury the Redblacks even further in the standings.
One thing going in Ottawa’s favour that was not present in the previous two meetings is the all-important rest advantage. While it has been a hot topic for debate, there is no denying the numbers. So far this CFL season, teams are 11-3 straight up and 10-4 against the spread in the game following their bye week. Ottawa is 1-0 in that situation, having defeated the Edmonton Elks 26-7 following their Week 4 bye. The Ticats are 0-2 against teams coming off their bye, having lost in Week 2 to the Toronto Argonauts and in Week 3 to the Alouettes.
With Hamilton seemingly embroiled in some locker-room drama as well as coming off a short week, the smart money is to ride with the Redblacks to cover the spread and win outright when these two teams lock horns on Friday night.
This game also figures to be a low-scoring affair. The previous meetings between these two this season have finished with total points of 34 and 28, respectively. Given that these two sides sit sixth (Ottawa) and eighth (Hamilton) in points per game, I see no reason to believe this matchup will be any different from their previous encounters. Take the under on total points.
Spread: Ottawa -3.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Ottawa (-170)
Total points: Under 47.5 (-110)