Hamilton has been playing must-win games since Labour Day, so using that term for tonight's contest against the BC Lions is as meaningless as it is accurate. Despite the numerous must wins the team has had over the last month and a half, they are still in the playoff hunt and, even more miraculously, still in the race for a home playoff date.
But before we get ahead of ourselves and start talking about playoff games, the Ti-Cats will need to beat the Lions tonight if they hope for any of the above to occur, and doing that will not be easy.
The Lions are once again the class of the league and are the favourites to take home their second consecutive Grey Cup. But last year, when the Lions went on their ridiculous run after starting 1-6, their one loss during their next 13 games (including the playoffs) was a 42-10 drubbing at the hands of the Ti-Cats at Ivor Wynne Stadium. No one thought the Ti-Cats would win that game, but they did. The plot is very similar for this week's game.
Perhaps the biggest key for the Ti-Cats is to limit turnovers. I know it sounds simple, but not turning the ball over has been an issue for the Ti-Cats. They have been careless with the football far too often, with Henry Burris being one of the worst offenders. The guy has played great for many stretches, but the team goes as he goes and when he goes bad, throwing picks and fumbling the football like he did last week in Edmonton, so does the team.
But these two teams often play each other very competitively. In their last eight games (including their 2009 playoff encounter), the Ti-Cats have won five and the Lions have won three, and only twice (both Tiger-Cat wins) have been decided by more than eight points. These two teams just seem to play their best against one another and it could be another close affair in the final meeting between the two teams at Ivor Wynne Stadium.
And don't forget that tonight's game is the annual CFL Pink game for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The team will be selling plenty of pink merchandise and the players will be wearing pink accessories on the field. Interestingly enough, last year's pink game was also against the Lions.
So can the Ti-Cats do the unexpected again and beat the Lions? We'll find out when the game kicks off at 7:30PM tonight.