The Calgary Stampeders remain betting favorites to win the 2018 Grey Cup. The odds for the Stamps moved to +265 from +280 after their week one victory over the Hamilton Tiger Cats and the league’s most talked about backup, Johnny (three down football) Manziel. Calgary have been the betting favorites since losing the 2017 Grey Cup in November on an untimely late turnover.
Bo Levi Mitchell returns for his seventh year in Calgary and his fifth as the team’s number one pivot. He threw for just under 300 yards in Week 1 and will eclipse 20,000 career passing yards early this season. With Mitchell at the helm, Calgary are aiming for a third straight Grey Cup appearance. Mitchell was the Grey Cup MVP the last time the Stamps won the CFL’s top prize in 2014, tossing for 334 yards in a 20-16 win over the Ti-Cats at BC Place.
Don’t Over Value The Ti-Cats
Hamilton, while a little sexy with two top flight QBs, are a weak bet at +600. It takes a village, and there are parts of the Tiger Cats village that are still under construction. The offensive line gave up 136 QB pressures last year which was second worst in the CFL. Management did nothing to upgrade this unit and, in fact, lost two members of last year’s O-Line that have yet to be replaced. With two athletic, mobile quarterbacks to protect and an inefficient, unproven offensive line, it could spell disaster for their offensive game as the season progresses.
Hamilton do not play an Eastern Conference opponent until Week 7 vs Ottawa. This means the first part of the schedule will be tough sledding against a powerful Western Conference. Last year, Hamilton was 2-8 against the West, including a combined 0-4 against top teams Calgary and Edmonton.
Maas’ Eskimos Intriguing at +600
Speaking of Edmonton, the Eskies are also 6-1 odds to win the Grey Cup, offering better value than their season opening odds of +500. This team brings value to bettors as not only are they a perennial threat to their southern neighbors in Calgary, there’s extra motivation as the Grey Cup will be played at Commonwealth Stadium in November. The Eskimos are “Grey Cup or Bust” and have returned an almost identical roster that lost to Calgary in the 2017 Western Conference Final. Eskimos’ Head Coach Jason Maas is haunted by the loss and his entire focus for 2018 is on redemption.
Edmonton have the league’s undisputed top quarterback and reigning Most Outstanding Player in the form of Mike Reilly. He has averaged over 5700 yards in the air and 29 touchdowns during his tenure as the Eskimos’ number one guy. The Eskimos also boast one of the top offensive lines in the league, giving Reilly those extra few moments to ensure precision.
A pre-season CFL media poll saw the Edmonton Eskimos voted as most likely to win the Grey Cup in 2018. 56% of respondents said “Mike Reilly” when asked, “who is the one player you would choose if you were starting a franchise today?”
Here’s a look at Grey Cup odds entering Week 2:
|Winnipeg Blue Bombers||+700|
Odds as of June 21 at Bovada
Johnny Manziel heading north of the border to play in the CFL was one of the biggest gets for the league in terms of pure exposure. And while the “Johnny Football” train is picking up plenty of steam, bettors need to wonder: does Manziel really help the Ticats win a Grey Cup?
The Tiger-Cats, who have the third-best odds to win the Grey Cup after the Manziel signing, went 6-12 last season. And – surprisingly – it wasn’t quarterback play that sunk the team. Starter Jeremiah Masoli completed 63.7 percent of his passes for 15 touchdowns and five interceptions in 12 games.
What really caused the downfall of the Tiger-Cats in 2017 was their dreadful rushing offense and less-than-average defense. Hamilton had the second-fewest rushing yards in the CFL last season, which resulted in the team being one of the lowest-scoring teams and posting one of the worst times of possession.
Defensively, the team was all-or-nothing. Despite finishing third in sacks, fourth in interceptions and first in forced fumbles, the Tiger-Cats allowed the second-most points in the league. The gambling mentality of their secondary was fun to watch but caused far too many big plays.
Manziel has always been more of a scrambler than a run-for-yards type of quarterback but the added size of the CFL field could help give the former Cleveland Browns signal-caller more room to run. If Manziel can prove that he can get it done with his feet while still being a competent, accurate thrower, then playing him in a situational role with Masoli could be a boon for the Tiger-Cats offense.
Manziel can’t fix Hamilton’s defense but relieving some of the pressure on his defensive teammates could go a long way to boosting the Tiger-Cats into contention – at least in the weak Eastern Conference.
Grey Cup Favorites: Calgary Stampeders
The Tiger-Cats and the rest of the CFL are chasing the Calgary Stampeders, who are +280 favorites to claim their first Grey Cup since 2014.
The Stamps return the bulk of an offense that paced the CFL in points and time of possession while allowing the fewest sacks and turnovers. Star quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell was unstoppable at times in 2017 but replacing running back Jerome Messam will be a difficult task.
The Stampeders rushed the ball 333 times for 1,663 yards in 2017. Messam accounted for over 60 percent of those two numbers. Who steps up and fills that void is uncertain, which could cause a bit of a drop-off for the Calgary offense.
Even if the offense falters slightly, the Stampeders had one of the best defenses in the CFL last season. Calgary finished in the top two in the league in points allowed, sacks and interceptions. Losing Tommy Campbell from the secondary hurts a bit but the Stampeders were able to keep their stud defense intact for the most part.
|Winnipeg Blue Bombers||+650|
Odds as of June 14 at Bovada