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CFL Preview: British Columbia Lions (3-1-0) vs Hamilton Tiger-Cats (0-4-0)

HAMILTON – Two teams trending in different directions meet on Sunday night as the BC Lions pay a visit to Tim Hortons Field to take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The Lions have won three in a row since dropping their season opener.

On the other sideline, the Ticats are looking for their first win of the season, sitting on a 0-4 start.

One of the biggest reasons for the Lions’ early season success has been the play of its offence and it starts at quarterback with Vernon Adams Jr. One doesn’t have to scroll far on the offensive leaderboard to see the impact he’s made, as he ranked first in passing yards with 1,369 and was tied for second in touchdown passes with seven after four weeks of play.

With the help of star receivers Alexander Hollins, who has 457 yards, and Justin McInnis (338 yards), there’s plenty for Hamilton’s group of defensive backs to focus on. As if those two weren’t enough to worry about, Ayden Eberhardt has burst onto the scene in his second season, catching eight of nine passes thrown his way for 164 yards.

Hamilton’s secondary is allowing 281.3 yards per game and has just one interception on the year, courtesy of Jamal Peters.

It’s going to take a team effort to slow down the Lions’ air attack, led by Peters and Stavros Katsantonis. Kenneth George Jr. aids in filling out the defence downfield that’s responsible for smothering Hollins, McInnis and Eberhardt.

The Lions’ potent offence isn’t limited to the pass, as William Stanback has experienced a resurgence and provides an option on the ground they haven’t had since the Ticats’ James Butler called BC Place home.

Stanback is among the league leaders in rushing yards with 229 but can’t sleep on a Ticats’ defensive front surrendering 80 yards per game, a mark that ranks them fourth in the league.

Active linebacker Kyle Wilson brings with him 27 defensive tackles and linemen Brandon Barlow and Casey Sayles have combined for five sacks. Disrupting Adams Jr. is one way they are going to try and foil the Lions’ play calling.

Adams Jr. is anticipating a tough defence and lots of pressure.

“They have a really good d-line,” he told reporters.

Head coach Rick Campbell’s crew can’t take the Ticats’ offence lightly when they trot on the field.

Bo Levi Mitchell has been neck-and-neck with the best pivots in the league. Sporting 1,297 passing yards and eight touchdowns, the Ticats’ pass game is the ticket to turning things around.

Shemar Bridges, Steven Dunbar Jr. and Tim White are all among the top 15 in receiving yards and allow Mitchell to spread the field, something he’ll need to do against a BC defence that ranks third against the pass.

Defensive backs Garry Peters and Ciante Evans both had an interception in the team’s win against Edmonton last week and flank a talented secondary.

On the ground, Butler returns to carry the bulk of the handoffs for Scott Milanovich’s offence after spending time on the one-game injured list, just in time to see his former team.

It’s been a relatively slow start by Butler’s standards but what better time to break out than against a defence he should know well?

The Lions’ defensive front ranks seventh against the run, averaging 95.3 yards against, but it’s a physical one.

Defensive linemen Joshua Archibald, Marcus Moore and Pete Robertson provide necessary experience, while linebackers Ben Hladik and Bo Lokombo help create a cohesive unit that makes life tough for opposing offences.

Ticats’ head coach Scott Milanovich knows it’ll take a complete effort to compete with one of the west’s best.

BC can move its road record above .500 for the first time this season with a victory.

For Hamilton, the path back into the East Division race starts with win No. 1.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET. Fans can watch on TSN in Canada, while American viewers can tune in on CBS Sports Network. International viewers have the game available to them on CFL+.

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