Grey Cup Best Bet
November 24, 2017
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105th Grey Cup Betting Preview
This may be a huge week for college football fans with the regular season ending and rivalry games littered across the entire board, but football fans north of the border are getting prepared for a champion to be crowned in the 105th edition of the Grey Cup.
For those that don't know, Grey Cup week is treated in a similar fashion to Super Bowl week in the NFL (on a much, much smaller scale). There are Fan Fest events all week, a nationally televised halftime show (it's Shania Twain this year in true Canadian fashion) and a big silver trophy that looks similar to the NHL's Stanley Cup handed out to the winner.
This year's matchup pits the dominant Calgary Stampeders (14-4 SU and 29-6-2 SU since the start of 2016) against a Toronto Argonauts team that is 10-9 SU on the year and has a familiar face on the sidelines to Chicago Bears fans in HC Marc Trestman. Calgary is looking to redeem themselves after losing in the Grey Cup a year ago in what was one of the better championship games ever played in the CFL, and just like 2016, Calgary comes into the game as a healthy favorite.
Sportsbetting.ag Odds: Calgary (-7); Total set at 53
Calgary was a 9.5-point favorite in last year's game against Ottawa and after a very sluggish start by the Stampeders (down 20-7 at halftime), the best team in the league stormed back late to force OT, only to fall short in the extra frame – CFL OT is basically the same as NCAAFB OT with both teams getting a possession.
So 2017 has been all about redemption for the Stampeders who have looked like the Golden State Warriors of the CFL the past few years with just how dominant they've been. They've already beaten Toronto twice this year – both times by at least 16 points – but just like the Warriors in the NBA, Calgary often gets saddled with lofty point spreads because they've been so good, and have failed to cover the number in five straight games. So is this point spread to lofty for the Stampeders again?
Well for one, this is a championship game meaning motivation will be at an all-time high for both sides. Calgary learned quite a few lessons in last year's defeat – most notably to try not to come out flat – and this has been the game the Stampeders have been waiting to get back to all year. Those recent ATS slip ups to end the year came when they had already locked up the West Division and were simply trying to stay healthy, so putting too much weight into that 0-5 ATS run may not be the smartest idea, but it also shouldn't be completely ignored.
QB Bo Levi Mitchell has proved that he's one of the best ever at the position this league has ever seen, as he's led the Stampeders to a 58-13-2 SU record since becoming the full-time starter in 2014. And not all of those losses were on his watch as a handful of them have come late in the season when he was resting up for the playoffs and didn't play. There are quite a few things pointing to Calgary getting their redemption this season, but there is one minor hiccup in that plan.
With Calgary returning to the Grey Cup for the 2nd consecutive year – not all that rare given the CFL is a nine-team league – it's important to note how returning Grey Cup participants like the Stampeders have done in this situation.
Well, since 2005 alone, we've seen three different occurrences (not including Calgary this year) where the team that lost the Grey Cup make it back to the big game the following year. Montreal did it in 2005 and 2006, Saskatchewan did it in 2009 and 2010, and Hamilton did it in 2013 and 2014. In those return trips the second time around, the word “redemption” was thrown around quite a bit like it is with Calgary this year, and wouldn't you know it, all three times in that span that the team made it back to the big game, they came up short once again. That's the type of history that is working directly in the face of Calgary this week and that's not something I'd prefer to go against.
Whether it's the pressure of the moment, or the overwhelming desire for redemption causing these teams to “force” things, history tells you that this is not the greatest spot for the Stamps to be in, despite all of their recent dominance. And just like last year against a 40-year-old QB Henry Burris who had multiple Grey Cup titles under his belt previously, Calgary is up against Toronto QB Ricky Ray this time around who is 38 years old and has three Grey Cup titles on his resume already.
Toronto also has the double-revenge angle working in their favor for this game after losing both meetings with the Stampeders this year, and Ray, knowing his career is on it's last legs, may pull a Henry Burris if he wins this game and retire on top when all is said and done. The Argos defense is a much different unit then the one that faced Calgary earlier this year – their last meeting was way back at the end of August – and the four turnovers they forced Saskatchewan into last week was a big reason why the Argos played the majority of that game with the lead. Adversity struck late with Toronto scoring the game-winning TD with under a minute left, but even putting together a drive like that when it's an absolute must has to have this Argos team brimming with confidence heading into the Grey Cup.
So with Calgary's struggles ATS the past month, Toronto looking for revenge, and history definitely not on Calgary's side regarding Grey Cup losers making it back to this stage, I'll be grabbing the points with Toronto (who has to travel a much shorter distance for this game in Ottawa) and looking for another close Grey Cup game that comes down to the wire.
Odds per - Sportsbetting.ag
Best Bet: Toronto +7
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