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CFL Preview: Calgary Stampeders (4-10-0) at Hamilton Tiger-Cats (6-8-0)

HAMILTON — The Hamilton Tiger-Cats welcome the Calgary Stampeders in the back half of a Saturday doubleheader to close out Week 17.

It’s the first and only meeting between the two teams this season and both are aiming to rebound from losses as Hamilton fell 29-14 to QEW rival Toronto and Calgary dropped a 28-11 decision to Montreal.

Quarterback Taylor Powell threw for 334 yards but was picked off twice in the loss. He’ll need to be more precise in his throws as the Stamps defence has been outstanding against the pass, ranking second in opposing yardage.

A passing game that’s primarily run through Tim White and Terry Godwin has seen some support of late. Kiondré Smith pulled down 156 yards in a losing effort to the Argos and Tyreik McAllister has also performed when called upon.

Awaiting those four downfield are Jonathan Moxey, Nick Statz and Kobe Williams. Statz is the latest Stampeders’ defensive back to step up, picking off a pass in last week’s game.

Facing a stiff pass defence, the Ticats can turn to running back James Butler to go up against a defensive front that’s coughing up over 125 yards a game. Butler should be motivated after a down performance that saw him rush for 32 yards on 13 carries. He also sits 150 short of 1,000, a milestone he’s looking to achieve for the second straight season.

The play of linebackers Micah Awe and Cameron Judge is critical in defending the run for Calgary. Awe leads the CFL with 102 defensive tackles while Judge has 68.

In front of those two is a defensive line led by Mike Rose with seven sacks.

When it comes to moving the ball on offence, the Stampeders head into Tim Hortons Field right in the middle of the pack averaging 336.3 net yards per game but coming off a performance where they scored just 11 points against the Als a week ago.

Quarterback Jake Maier led all passers with 3,581 yards heading into the week but has also thrown 15 interceptions, an issue that needs to stabilize if the Stamps hope to make a run down the stretch. His first order of business is going up against a Ticats secondary that’s picked off 17 passes in 14 games.

Receiver Reggie Begelton has been, and will likely continue to be, Maier’s top target. Marken Michel and Tre Odoms-Dukes are the obvious next targets and need to step up to move the ball in the air. They’ll go against a talented group of Tabbies’ defensive backs in Stavros Katsantonis and Richard Leonard.

Options aren’t an issue on the ground as Ka’Deem Carey and Dedrick Mills are tasked with exploiting a Ticats defensive front giving up 119.4 yards per game. Carey however was added to the injury report on Thursday with an illness and was listed as questionable for the game but has been featured as the starter on the team’s depth chart.

Hamilton’s head coach Orlondo Steinauer will turn to linemen Malik Carney and Casey Sayles along with linebackers Jameer Thurman and Simoni Lawrence to plug holes and cause issues for Carey and Mills.

Thurman, who will be facing his former team, is excited to go up against so many familiar faces.

With the playoff picture taking form, Stampeders head coach Dave Dickenson doesn’t want his team getting ahead of themselves as they head into the final weeks.

Hamilton can improve to 7-8 on the season with a victory as they try to keep pace with the Alouettes for second place in the East Division.

The Stampeders can move two points ahead of the Edmonton Elks with a win while also trying to catch the Saskatchewan Roughriders for third place in the West.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET. International and U.S. audiences can watch the game on CFL+ and Canadian viewers can catch the action on TSN.

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