TORONTO — New faces at quarterback are getting the chance to shine this weekend, as Week 4 kicks off in the Canadian Football League.
It begins in Montreal on Thursday for the Alouettes’ home opener against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats beginning 7:30 p.m. ET. Montreal will be looking for its first victory on the season, while attempting to even the home-and-home series with the Tiger-Cats. Hamilton will be looking to start 4-0 for the first time since 1989. As part of the Thursday Night Football Concert Series, Zach Zoya, an up-and-coming singer/rapper/songwriter from Montreal, will take the stage at halftime.
Friday Night Football features two undefeated teams in the nation’s capital with kickoff at 7:30 p.m. ET. Winnipeg last opened a season 3-0 in 2014 during Mike O’Shea’s first year at the helm of the Blue Bombers. Likewise, Ottawa will be looking to start 3-0 for the first time since re-joining the league.
Week 4 wraps up with a double-header on Saturday – first up, Toronto plays host to the BC Lions at 7 p.m. ET with both teams in search of their first victory of the year. With James Franklin injured, the boatmen will look for McLeod Bethel-Thompson to lead the way at BMO Field. BC is hoping to bounce back from a late loss to the Calgary Stampeders last week.
The Calgary Stampeders will visit the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Week 4 finale. Calgary is coming off a furious late-game comeback win versus the Lions, while Saskatchewan looks to carry forward momentum following its first victory – a Canada Day win over the Argonauts at Mosaic. The Roughriders took the 2018 season series versus the Stampeders 2-1.
All games this week will be on ESPN+.
With a win over Montreal, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats will begin 4-0 for the first time since 1989.
In team history, the Tiger-Cats have started 4-0 on five occasions; 1951, 1958, 1959, 1961 and 1989.
The team’s best start came in 1961 when the Tiger-Cats began the season 7-0.
In their past two games, Hamilton has scored 106 points with a differential of 82 points – which is the largest combined margin of victory over the course of two games since 1999, when they notched back-to-back wins by 46 points each against Edmonton and Saskatchewan.
Hamilton sits first in the following categories:
Sack allowed (1)
Points for (42.7)
Touchdowns scored (15)
Fewest points allowed (13.7)
Average yards per play (8.4)
The Tiger-Cats are averaging 9.2 yards on first downs this season.
Defensively, Hamilton leads the CFL with 12 quarterback sacks; seven different players have registered a sack.
Hamilton has made six long gainers more than the next best team.
TEAMS LOOKING TO REMAIN PERFECT IN OTTAWA
The Winnipeg and Ottawa game features the No. 1 and No. 3 ranked offensive teams in the league with Ottawa at 37.5 and Winnipeg at 30.5.
Winnipeg has allowed just one offensive touchdown in two games so far this season.
This game also features the No. 1 and No. 2 run defences in the CFL.
In his first start, Dominique Davis recorded four interceptions and no touchdowns; in his second start, he tallied three touchdown passes and zero interceptions.
In Week 1, Davis went for 0-for-4 on deep throws, before going 6-of-9 for 176 yards and two TDs in Week 2.
Matt Nichols has started the season with three TD passes in each game and is tied for the CFL lead with six.
THE YEAR OF THE BIG PLAY
Winning teams this year have averaged 7.6 yards on first downs.
Winning teams have 40 ‘big play’ long gainers compared to 23 by losing teams
The gap in net offence from winning to losing teams is nearly 100 yards (425 vs. 334)
Winning teams are converting on 56% of second downs, while losing teams average 48%.
Winning teams have allowed a combined 11 sacks, while losing teams have allowed 34.
This has helped overcome the six occasions where the losing team had more time of possession than the winner.
Charleston Hughes has registered a sack in 81 of his 167 career games, including two each in the last two games. He now has 118 career sacks and sits 9th all-time (eight behind John Bowman and Stewart Hill).
Calgary is 0-2 in its last two games without Bo Levi Mitchell.
Calgary overcame a 21-point deficit against the BC Lions last week. It was the team’s largest comeback since September 13, 2014 when they erased a 26-point difference against Toronto.
McLeod Bethel-Thompson will start for the Argos this week. He was 2-6 as a starter last year, including 1-1 against the Lions
Mike Reilly owns a career mark of 3-6 against the Argonauts. Toronto is the only East team to have a winning record against the 2018 MOP.
Montreal’s BJ Cunningham has 189 yards and 15 receptions in his first two games. At this point last season, he had seven catches for 66 yards.
Despite sitting 0-2, the Montreal Alouettes lead the league in turnover ratio at +4; Toronto and BC are last with -4.
Edmonton leads the league with 422 penalty yards – nearly 200 yards more than the No. 2 BC (239).
Through three games, Edmonton and Hamilton have allowed only one sack each.
Home teams are 8-3 this season.
Teams leading after the first quarter this year are 4-6. BC has led after the first quarter of each game and lost.
55% of games have been decided in the final 3 minutes.
64% of drives in which teams make a ‘big play’ result in a touchdown. Without making a ‘big play’, only 12% of teams’ drives end in a major.
Teams are converting 82% of two-point conversions (18/22). Of the 22 two-point converts, only two have been rushes.
Both Brandon Banks and Greg Ellingson are averaging more than 100 yards a game.
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