The Hamilton Tiger-Cats will look to close out their regular season on a winning note when they head to Montreal to take on the Alouettes on Saturday afternoon at Percival Molson Stadium. The Alouettes enter the game as a small 2.5-point favourite.
These two teams have met twice before this season with Montreal winning by double digits in both matchups at Tim Hortons Field, 38-12 in Week 3 and 27-14 in Week 9. A lot has changed for the Ticats since then. That Week 9 defeat was Hamilton’s final game with Tommy Condell as offensive coordinator, replacing him the following week with Scott Milanovich.
Since Milanovich took over, the Ticats have begun scoring more, eclipsing the 27-point mark six times in nine games, and winning four of their last six to clinch a spot in the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year.
This game might also be a little different from previous meetings as both teams will be without a number of veterans, with the Ticats opting to rest running back James Butler, receiver and team Most Outstanding Player Tim White, defensive linemen Casey Sayles and Malik Carney, defensive back Richard Leonard and backup quarterback Matthew Shiltz.
The Alouettes will also be without the services of defensive lineman Almondo Sewell and running back Walter Fletcher. Quarterback, and noted Tiger-Cats killer, Cody Fajardo will start for the Als but is not expected to see much more than a quarter of action before giving way to backups Caleb Evans and Davis Alexander.
The Ticats will start Bo Levi Mitchell for the third straight game as he continues to work his way back from injury. Mitchell returned to his starting role in Week 18, playing the first quarter in Hamilton’s victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The 33-year-old followed that up by playing the entire first half against the B.C. Lions in Week 19. How much Mitchell will play is up in the air but it is fair to assume he won’t play much more than a half with Taylor Powell, who started nine games during Mitchell’s midseason absence, coming in after.
This has been a bit of a one-sided rivalry of late, with Montreal winning five of the last six contests, including a 28-17 victory in last season’s East Semi-Final. These two teams will hook up again in a week for another East Semi-Final matchup, the third straight season these two teams will meet in the first round of the CFL playoffs.
Handicapping this game is incredibly difficult due to the uncertainty of how long the veterans on both sides will play. This game likely comes down to which team you think has better depth. I like Hamilton’s backup Taylor Powell’s ability to pilot the Tiger-Cats’ offence more than I do Montreal’s tandem of Caleb Evans and Davis Alexander, so because of that I will take the Ticats to cover the 2.5 points and also take them at plus-money to win the game outright and finish the regular season on a winning note.
The total of 47.5 that has been set for this game has only been eclipsed in three of the last 10 meetings between Hamilton and Montreal dating back to their final meeting in 2019. Given that both teams will see backups playing prominent roles, I do not expect either team to score a ton. Take the under.
Spread: Ticats +2.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Ticats (+120)
Total points: Under 47.5