LIVESTREAM PPV: CFL – Winnipeg Blue Bombers @Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Friday, July 26, 7p EDT (1a July 27, CEDT)

HAMILTON – The Winnipeg Blue Bombers look to cement themselves as the best team in the CFL on Friday Night Football when they take on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Tim Hortons Field.

The teams enter Friday at the top of their respective divisions with a combined record of 9-1. A matchup in which both teams have played at least five games and have one loss combined is extremely rare, a scenario that’s unfolded only five times since 1958.

There is nothing to separate the Tabbies and the Bombers statistically. Hamilton has the most points-per-game, while Winnipeg has the second-most. The Blue Bombers have the fewest points allowed per game and the Tiger-Cats have the second fewest.

» Depth Charts: WPG | HAM

The Blue and Gold defence could get even better with Adam Bighill returning to the lineup. The reigning CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player hasn’t seen any action since Week 3, but his addition makes the Bomber defence even more of a threat.

“It’s going to be a great battle. They’re a fantastic team,” Bighill told BlueBombers.com. “They pose a handful of unique challenges on offence with all the explosive plays they’ve had and [Brandon] Banks leading the charge. You’ve got [Jeremiah] Masoli who can throw the ball all over the field and extend plays.”

Bighill re-entering the lineup will only improve an already stingy Winnipeg run defence. The Bombers have given up a mere 59.2 rushing yards per game, unsurprisingly the lowest in the league.

Hamilton is still without starting running back Sean Thomas Erlington, so if they are unable to establish the ground game early, it could be a long night for the Ticats. The three backs listed on the Hamilton depth chart – Maleek IronsAnthony Coombs and Jackson Bennett – have 35 carries between them this year.

Should the Tabbies struggle on the ground, expect a big game from Masoli. The seasoned quarterback already has two games of 400 passing yards or more and has thrown more than 30 passes in four of his five games this year.

“We’re going to do what we do – try to stay as balanced as possible,” Masoli told Ticats.ca when asked about facing the Bombers defence. “Just stringing success together, that’s the biggest thing we can do; keep their offence off the field, help our defence and try to play the field position battle.”

His counterpart at quarterback is winning ball games, despite not lighting up the stat sheet. Matt Nichols has only tossed one pick in 2019, despite averaging 9.1 yards per completion. Remarkably, Nichols has not thrown for over 300 yards yet, but his team is nevertheless 5-0.

“The thing I’ve liked most is the lack of satisfaction in the locker room,” Nichols said. “Even after our last win it didn’t totally feel like a winning locker room. It’s just one of those things where everyone feels like we can be better, feels like we can’t wait to get back to work for the next week.”

Hamilton will get a boost on the offensive line, as dependable tackle Chris Van Zeyl will see his first action since July 4. The Tabbies boast one of the finest pass protection units in the league, having allowed only seven sacks over their five games. But with Van Zeyl out of the lineup last game, the Calgary Stampeders got to Masoli four times.

The Bombers have nine sacks this season, with Jackson Jeffcoat having three to his name. Masoli has been leaned on by the Ticats, and the Bombers cannot afford to let him get comfortable in the pocket, especially if the Hamilton run game fails to get going.

Friday’s matchup will pit two long time teammates against one another as head coaches. Mike O’Shea and Orlondo Steinauer played on the same defence for nine years; in 2000 with the Tiger-Cats and from 2001-2008 as members of the Toronto Argonauts, winning the Grey Cup together in 2004.

The duo were both on the Argos coaching staff for a number of years after their retirement, before leaving for opportunities with other franchises.

“I think we’re both cut from the same cloth,” Steinauer told Ticats.ca. “I actually pictured us coaching together – which happened. Going against each other never really crossed my mind until he took the path to Winnipeg. I’m happy for him, but when the ball’s kicked off, what’s it going to be like? Just the next game.”

BY THE NUMBERS

100 – Hamilton offensive lineman Mike Filer is slated to play in his 100th career game on Friday.

0 – The number of rushing touchdowns by Andrew Harris this season. He does have three receiving TDs.

4 – The Ticats are looking to make it four straight victories at Tim Hortons Field for the first time since they opened the stadium with an eight-game winning streak in 2014.

5 – Offensive plays ran by the Ottawa REDBLACKS in Winnipeg territory last week.

– With files from BlueBombers.com/Ticats.ca

AFI, Yare Media and the CFL

American Football International is collaborating with Yare Media and the Canadian Football League to present 2019 CFL games live. This is more than a livestream. This is a stream of the top flight TSN network television broadcast.

LIVE STREAM PPV: CFL –Winnipeg Blue Bombers @Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Friday, July 26, 7p EDT (1a July 27, CEDT)

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