CFL Pass

Who wins the 106th Grey Cup game? Early odds and our picks

With regard to odds on the 106h Grey Cup, online sportsbooks are holding their collective cards close to their collective chests. Logical enough: Consider that the CFL is a nine-team league that has seen just two repeat champions since 1983, and remember who’s the reigning champion.

(Who is it, again? O, yeah, that’s right. Weird!)

Nevertheless, knuckleheads like CFLpass believe certain truths may be glimpsed with an early look at the odds. Right now, the odds table shows the league’s nine teams clustered into four distinct groups, as described below, along with an early recommended play.

The perennial favourite
Calgary Stampeders, 2/1
. For the sixth consecutive season, Bo Levi Mitchell (the Tom Brady of the CFL) and the Calgary Stampeders (the New England Patriots of the CFL) are preseason favourites going into the CFL season, but unlike the AFC in general, the CFL West has been keeping pace and adapting to the Cowtown monsters. Winnipeg and Saskatchewan have slowly built up teams of quality players at every position, while Edmonton has remained a top-3 or -4 time during Calgary’s run as favourites, even having won a Grey Cup more recently than the Stamps.

Plus, look at it this way: If the Stampeders once again boast that machine-like precision going into the playoffs and if you believe this could be the ’Cup in which the Stamps somehow avoid the fluky and/or clutch play, just hedge on individual playoff games. Covering Calgary with some combination of money-line and pointspread bets could easy net you those 2/1 odds.

The up-and-comers. (or, CFLpass’s favourites)
Winnipeg Blue Bombers, 6/1
Saskatchewan Roughriders, 7/1
Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 7/1
. The argument to pute one’s money, et cetera et cetera on these three teams is each simple.

•  Winnipeg has steadily built a competitor through a CFL-style Process, has lost in the semi-finals twice by a combined 8 points and had a good 2018 free-agency period.

•  For his third season as Saskatchewan head coach, Chris Jones appears to have slowed the revolving door of players and well stand firm with a starting lineup he likes for more than a few games. The Riders have been, prior to the draft, winners of this CFL preseason in addressing the roster’s weaknesses while also adding more star power in Jerome Messam and Zach Evans.

•  Hamilton turned around a disastrous 0-8 start with a 6-4 finish after a bye week. Even better for the Ticats, in those 10 weeks did Jeremiah Masoli (not Zach Collaros) awaken a slack offense to average 29.5 points per game over that run. Combine the momentum with the faltering East, and the Ticats would appear to be set for a solid 12-6 season, plus the bye and home game in the playoffs.

So here’s the bet: Bet 6x on the Bombers for every 5x on both the Riders and Ticats. This way, if one of the three wins the Grey Cup, you’ll pocket 35x or 36x.

The (relative) longshots
Edmonton Eskimos, 8/1
Toronto Argonauts, 8/1
. CFLpass can’t recall when the Eskimos were this far down a preseason CFL odds table (it was certainly before Mike Reilly’s sophomore season), nor when any champion in any football league was. Nevertheless, the defending champion Argos (bizarre!) spent much of the remaining budget on signing prize QB James Franklin but otherwise did little more than walk back some of Jim Popp’s more overenthusiastic signings. Edmonton’s offseason was, once again, mostly blah while most of the rest of the West dropped off.

The real longshots
BC Lions, 10/1
Ottawa Redblacks, 10/1
Montreal Alouettes, 12/1
. Most CFL followers could easily envision these three sides as the non-playoff teams in 2018 – though the bottom three seems this certain every year. Heck, two teams that played in the last three Grey Cups – the 2015 Ottawa RedBlacks and the 2017 Toronto Argonauts (insane!) – were forecasted as bottom-feeders. Surely unforeseen difficulties will strike one of the top-tier foursome, and one of these squads could well capture lightning in a bottle … but we certainly wouldn’t bet money on it.