Hamilton Tiger-Cats (10-8) at Toronto Argonauts (11-7)
Sunday, November 17 at Noon et/9am pt on TSN
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|Once rivals in Alberta, now rivals in Ontario, Ricky Ray and Henry Burris faceoff with a trip to the Grey Cup on the line.
Two off-seasons ago it was that future Hall of Famers Ricky Ray and Henry Burris moved to the East Division for the first times in their careers.
Ray, a nine-year veteran with the Edmonton Eskimos was traded to the Toronto Argonauts while Burris, a veteran of 12 CFL seasons was sent to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats by the Calgary Stampeders.
The two couldn’t escape each other however, as they traded seven years in the Battle of Alberta for a similarly fierce rivalry in Ontario.
The move East looked good on each QB. In Ray’s first campaign with the Double Blue the 34-year-old led a last-place team to the 100th Grey Cup in their own backyard.
He followed that effort up with 2013 that saw him set the CFL record for completion percentage (77.2%) and be named the East Division nominee for Most Outstanding Player despite missing eight games due to injury.
Hamilton’s offence lost some of its explosiveness this season – in large part due to the Chris Williams contract squabble – but remained one of the most potent units in the league. The Tiger-Cats’ return to the post-season was in large part due to an improved offence. The secondary was much better with newcomers Delvin Breaux, Evan McCollough and Courtney Stephen joining the only returning member Dee Webb in totally revamping the back end. Torrey Davis and Brian Bulcke led a strong defensive line while even the shakeup at linebacker proved effective, with Simoni Lawrence and Rico Murray playing productive roles in Hamilton this season.
Chad Owens couldn’t match his Most Outstanding 2012 season but still put together a fairly solid – if not much quieter – 2013 campaign. The 31-year-old was 21 yards shy of eclipsing 1,000 yards receiving on the year and his return yards were cut in half this time around, but the all-purpose threat still managed more than 2,000 yards on the season. While his numbers decreased, the Argos as a whole appear a more complete team in 2013. Injuries sapped a number of players from larger stat lines but key players like Andre Durie, Robert McCune, and Pat Watkins were still recognized with East Division All-Star nods.
Burris meanwhile, felt a similar rejuvenation in the Hammer. The 38-year-old led the league in passing both seasons with a career-high 5,367 yards in 2012 – to go along with another career high in touchdowns with 43 – and 4,925 this year.
The QB matchup highlights a great East Division rivalry that will determine the division’s representative at the 101st Grey Cup in Saskatchewan.
At this time a year ago the same two teams, the Toronto Argonauts and Montreal Alouettes, were preparing under the same circumstances – about to faceoff with a trip to the Grey Cup on the line.
This Week3Last Week3Toronto Argonauts11-7
Ricky Ray finishes the regular season with the highest completion percentage among qualifying quarterbacks of all-time at 77.2 percent. Had injury not cost the veteran QB seven games midway through the season he may have put up one of the best seasons in CFL history.
This Week4Last Week4Hamilton Tiger-Cats10-8
Known in recent years for their penchant to finish at or around .500, the Tiger-Cats finished with their best record since 2001 at 10-8. Their next step will be navigating through the playoffs and advancing to the Grey Cup, something they haven’t done since winning the trophy in 1999.
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