Betting picks for Hamilton Tiger-Cats vs. Calgary Stampeders

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym/RFB Sport Photography

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will look to get back to their winning ways when they take on the Calgary Stampeders at Tim Hortons Field on Saturday night. The Ticats enter the game as slight point favourites.

Both teams come into this game off a loss, with the Tabbies falling to the Toronto Argonauts a week ago while the Stamps were thoroughly beaten by the Montreal Alouettes at home. Both sides will also want to get a win on Saturday as it would help their playoff chances, with a Tiger-Cats victory ending any hopes the Stampeders have of crossing over into the East Division side of the Grey Cup bracket.

Stampeders’ quarterback Jake Maier leads the CFL in passing this year with 3,581 yards but he has also tossed 15 interceptions to just 15 touchdowns and has a league-low 7.6 yards per attempt. Reggie Begelton has been Maier’s No. 1 target, catching a league-high 78 passes for 1,028 yards in 13 games. With the Ticats having some inexperience in the secondary with Tunde Adeleke and Javien Elliott missing Saturday’s game, this could be a matchup the Stampeders try to exploit.

The Tiger-Cats have seen an offensive uptick of their own over the last few weeks, increasing their scoring average from 20 points under former coordinator Tommy Condell to 27.6 points under Scott Milanovich. The former Argos’ bench boss has also unlocked rookie quarterback Taylor Powell, who has averaged 298 yards passing over his last four games while also throwing eight touchdowns to four interceptions.

Both of these defences have given up the exact same amount of points, with teams averaging 27 per game against them. They have also been susceptible along the ground, with the Tiger-Cats ranking sixth in the league in rushing yards allowed and the Stampeders ranking seventh in that category. That means it could be a big night for each team’s running backs, Calgary’s Ka’Deem Carey and Hamilton’s James Butler.

The pass defence for Calgary has been better than Hamilton’s, giving up over 40 fewer yards per game in the air. Hamilton has also turned the ball over a league-high 36 times but shares the same minus-one turnover differential as their opponent on Saturday.

This has the feel of a game that is going to be a bit ugly. Big plays will be at a premium and both quarterbacks have shown to be somewhat erratic in their decision-making. While the Tiger-Cats’ offence engenders a little more confidence following the change at play caller, they still feel tough to trust entirely. Calgary’s offence is a mess, and if Begelton or Carey don’t take over a game, the Stamps have had an incredibly hard time looking like a functional unit. Neither team’s defence is all that trustworthy either, which makes this game so difficult to handicap.

Given that Hamilton is at home with the possibility of clinching a playoff berth with a win and given Calgary’s struggles all year on the road — winning just twice in seven road games and not since Week 6 — I lean slightly towards the Tiger-Cats.

I also do not expect either offence to light the scoreboard up and could easily see this game ending with neither team crossing the 24-point mark, let alone both. I think the under 47.5 total points is the play here as well.

Spread: Ticats -1.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Ticats (-125)
Total points: Under 47.5

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.