There are a lot of great storylines in this cross-over game. Can the Tiger-Cats win at home? Do the Lions have enough to push another game? Also, this game could mark the last game ever coached by the winningest coach in CFL history. Everything will be decided on Nov. 11.
Hamilton is no stranger to hosting post-season games. This is the fifth time in six years that Hamilton will do just that. For the Lions, this is the fifth time that they have crossed over into the East division. The last time was during the 2014 season. The teams actually met in the cross-over game in 2009 where the Lions knocked off the Tiger-Cats 34-27 in overtime. During the regular season, the teams split the two-game series, each winning on home field. The last time they met, the Cats roasted the Lions 40-10 in the game made popular for all the wrong reasons – the Lions danced on the Tiger-Cats logo during a pre-game practice. That didn’t sit well with the home-side Ti-Cats.
As expected, the Lions used their game with the Stampeders this past weekend as a tune-up for this important one against the Tiger-Cats. The Leos used both quarterbacks and a combination of starters and backups in the loss to the Calgary Stampeders. This Sunday in Hamilton, Travis Lulay will lead the Lions onto the field looking for a win. Lulay has played well at times, but the biggest concern for the veteran quarterback is staying healthy. Once again, the 35 year-old did not play the full season, but the good news is he’s healthy right now. The team did themselves a favour by strengthening some key positions via trade during the season. Defensive end Shawn Lemon has been monster on the line since coming over from the Argos, recording 11 sacks, good enough for third in the CFL. Later in the season, Tyrell Sutton was acquired from the Alouettes to improve the team’s running game and he did just that. Of note, defensive backs Anthony Orange and Winston Rose have combined for 10 interceptions this season making opposing quarterbacks think twice before throwing in their direction.
The Tiger-Cats stumbled into the post-season, losing their last three games and five of their last seven to wrap up the year 8-10. It’s also the third straight season the Tabbies are sub .500 at home (4-5). Here’s the positive: Jeremiah Masoli is well-rested and ready to lead this team. Masoli was the team’s MOP (Most Outstanding Player nominee) for a reason. He was second in the league in passing yards (5209 yards) and third in the league in touchdown passes (28). Masoli will have to rely on Luke Tasker to be his go-to flanker. Tasker had a great 2018 season, fourth in league receiving (1104 yards) and tied for first in touchdown catches with 11. He’ll be missing the services of the league’s top receiver Brandon Banks (injury) and the team will need some secondary help. Look for players like Mike Jones or Terrell Sinkfield to step up – secondary options are a must if this team plans to participate in the East final in Ottawa the following weekend.