With the exception of a blip in Week 4, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have mostly cruised to a 4-1 record in 2019.
The only team to have a winning record going into a matchup with Hamilton this season was the Calgary Stampeders on July 13 — a game that ended in a 30-23 Tiger-Cats win at Tim Hortons Field.
However, not only does Hamilton’s Week 7 opponent have a winning record, they haven’t lost at all.
The 5-0 Blue Bombers have beaten their opponents by an average of nearly 18 points per game this season. They’ve given up just 80 points all season, including a minuscule eight total first-quarter points.
That doesn’t bode well for a Ticats offence that has had notoriously slow starts this season.
Despite being the highest-scoring team in the CFL through six weeks (187 points), Hamilton has been outscored 21-12 in the first quarter — and has outscored opponents 175-79 across the other three.
“We’re aware of the records and that nobody has beaten them,” says Hamilton Tiger-Cats head coach Orlondo Steinauer. “But it doesn’t motivate us more. We prepare the same way each week. It really wouldn’t matter who was on the schedule. We’re just trying to be five-and-one.”
WATCH (July 22): Blue Bombers Mike O’Shea media briefing
The Tiger-Cats won’t have their leader on defence as linebacker Simoni Lawrence sits out the first game of a two-game suspension.
Lawrence failed in his appeal of the suspension after he hit quarterback Zach Collaros in the head as Collaros was sliding at the end of a run during Hamilton’s season-opening 23-17 home win over Saskatchewan on June 13.
Lawrence received a 25-yard roughing-the-passer penalty on the play.
Collaros didn’t return and went on the six-game injured list shortly afterwards.
“We have a team of leaders, and Simoni is a huge part of our defence and vocal leader,” said Hamilton Tiger-Cats defensive back Rico Murray. “But we have other guys that have been able to lead, and this is a great opportunity for them.”
The Ticats will be facing the league’s most accurate passer. Through five games, Bombers QB Matt Nichols has completed 73.2 per cent of his passes for 1,150 yards, 12 touchdowns and one interception.
Hamilton and Winnipeg split their two meetings last season, with each team winning on their home turf.