CFL Friday: What bettors need to know

Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Toronto Argonuats (-4, 56)

The Toronto Argonauts return from their four-game road trip to host the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Friday as part of back-to-back games between the East Division rivals. Toronto clinched a playoff spot with its sixth straight road victory last week and hopes to translate some of that away success to Rogers Centre, where it is 3-3. Argonauts running back Chad Kackert was named offensive player of the week after recording 155 rushing yards and two touchdowns in his return from injury against Edmonton.

The Tiger-Cats were dismantled at home by the Calgary Stampeders last week as starting quarterback Henry Burris threw three interceptions and backup Dan LeFevour tossed two. Without an effective passing game, Hamilton was held to its lowest point total since being shut out by the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Week 4. The Tiger-Cats trail the Argonauts by six points for the East Division lead, meaning the next two games will go a long way toward determining who earns a bye in the opening round of the playoffs.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, TSN

ABOUT THE TIGER-CATS (6-7): Burris leads the league with 3,899 passing yards, while running back C.J. Gable has 569 rushing yards as part of 1,047 from scrimmage. Wide receiver Andy Fantuz has 678 receiving yards in an injury-shortened season, but on pace for his second career 1,000-yard campaign. "I think I'll continue getting better,” Fantuz told the Hamilton Spectator. “I feel like a lot of subtle parts of my game have already got a lot better and have been fine-tuned this year." Hamilton added another speedy wide receiver in Brandon Banks, who spent three seasons with the NFL’s Washington football team.

ABOUT THE ARGONAUTS (9-4): Kick returner Trent Guy was named special teams player of the week after returning four kicks for 131 yards, including a 65-yard return in the first quarter. Slotback Chad Owens and quarterback Ricky Ray remain out with injuries, but quarterback Zach Collaros is gaining confidence with every game, leading a 21-point rally against Edmonton in the second half last week. "It just goes to show the kind of character we have on this team," coach Scott Milanovich said. "Nobody here believes a game is over until there are zeros on the clock.''
 
TRENDS:

* Tiger-Cats are 4-0 ATS in their last four road games.
* Argonauts are 1-4 ATS in their last five home games.
* Over is 5-0 in the last five meetings.
* Tiger-Cats are 7-18-1 ATS in their last 26 meetings in Toronto.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. Toronto DB Pat Watkins leads the league with five interceptions.

2. The Argonauts have allowed a league-high 296.1 passing yards per game, while the Tiger-Cats have allowed a league-high 28 passing touchdowns.

3. The Argonauts defeated Hamilton 39-34 at home to open the season.


Saskatchewan Roughriders at BC Lions (-3, 52.5)

The Saskatchewan Roughriders are in a tailspin after their franchise-record start to the season, dropping four straight games and sitting third in the West Division. The Roughriders will have a chance to make up some ground on a team that passed them when they visit the BC Lions on Friday. Saskatchewan’s offense has looked lost without league-leading running back Kory Sheets, who was on pace to break the CFL record for rushing yardage in a season before suffering a knee injury three weeks ago.

The Lions defeated the Roughriders 24-22 in Week 13 as part of a perfect two-game road swing to bring a three-game winning streak back to BC Place, where they are 6-0 in 2013 and have not lost in 12 regular season games. BC scored three defensive touchdowns in last week’s victory against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, which took the pressure off backup quarterback Thomas DeMarco. DeMarco completed 15-of-21 passes with one touchdown starting in place of Travis Lulay, who will miss at least two more weeks with a shoulder injury.

TV: 10 p.m. ET, TSN

ABOUT THE ROUGHRIDERS (8-5): Saskatchewan has been held to 34 points in two full games without Sheets. Quarterback Darian Durant completed 59-of-98 passes for 665 yards over that span, throwing three touchdowns and three interceptions, but the Roughriders running game was non-existent, totaling 54 yards. The defense is hurting as well without linebacker Renauld Williams, who led the team in tackles and sacks before being placed on the nine-game injured list. Slotback Chris Getzlaf is on pace for a career year with 861 receiving yards and seven touchdowns.

ABOUT THE LIONS (9-4): Linebacker Adam Bighill was named defensive player of the week after recording 10 tackles, one sack and forcing two fumbles against the Blue Bombers. Bighill returned one of those fumbles for a touchdown. Cornerbacks Dante Marsh and Cord Parks also scored touchdowns off turnovers. Lulay expressed confidence in DeMarco’s abilities Monday and said he hopes to resume throwing soon. "The swelling and inflammation stuff needs to go down and that's kind of where we're at,'' Lulay said. "We're getting to the tail end of that where I'm getting my range of motion back. Now it's a buildup to the strengthening and the throwing again.''

TRENDS:


* Roughriders are 0-4 ATS in their last four road games.
* Lions are 4-0 ATS in their last four vs. West.
* Under is 17-5 in the last 22 meetings in BC.
* Roughriders are 2-7 ATS in their last nine meetings.

EXTRA POINTS:

1. Saskatchewan signed DB Rod Williams to shore up its secondary after Williams failed to make the roster of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. Williams played three seasons with the Edmonton Eskimos.

2. BC has 17 interceptions and allows a league-low 247.7 passing yards per game.

3. Saskatchewan SB Geroy Simon broke the CFL record for all-time receptions last week with five catches to bring his career total to 1,020.

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