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CFL Odds to Win Grey Cup: Team Betting Preview

grey-cup-celebration-2013The CFL regular season kicks off on Thursday, the 26th of June and the Grey Cup odds are already out at 888 Sport. While the RedBlacks are getting the short end of the stick as the new kids in town, the Lions, the Roughriders, and the Stampeders are all gracing the top of the odds table as the most likely contenders for the 2014 Grey Cup. Even though the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are the defending Eastern Division champions, a dramatic change in their offensive roster has relegated them to the middle of this year’s odds standings.

The odds in this preview are all provided courtesy of 888 Sport Canada. They offer their new Canadian customers up to 8 free wagers that add up to $88 in risk free betting. They are also one of the few sportsbooks that puts a real focus on CFL football. They offer odds on every regular season and playoff CFL game throughout the season and include outright winning odds as well as futures and props. Visit 888 Sport and receive up to $88 in Free Bets. Deposit using Canadian Visa or Mastercard, Instadebit, Ukash, Bank Wire or Entropay.

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BC Lions @ 4.50 – Great expectations are once again looming over the 2011 CFL Champions as they are pegged as the preseason favorites to win the 2014 Grey Cup. The BC Lions were plagued with some inconsistency as well as some injuries last season. More particularly they were stricken with an inability to win on the road. The Lions took their 8-1 home record for the season and accompanied with a losing 3-6 road record. According to the Lion’s coaching staff, there will be a bigger focus on pumping up their offense this year. The only issue is that Lulay, who’s health kept him to just 2800 passing yards last year still appears to be suffering from a shoulder injury. Himself and three others will be missing the first game of the season. The good news for the Lions on offense is that they do now have Kevin Glenn. Glenn managed quite well last year and put together 2700 passing yards as a backup qb. He also threw fewer interceptions than Lulay and finished the season with a higher QB rating. The Lions have the kind of defense necessary to win the Grey Cup ten times over. If they can start to get the forward game moving at a better pace, there will be little that can stop them.

Saskatchewan Roughriders @ 5.00 – The Roughriders are the defending Grey Cup Champions and naturally they are near the top of the odds table, but there has been a change to their roster that could mean these odds are not as enticing as they appear. Kory Sheets, the man whose running game kept the Roughriders plowing through the first half of the 2013 CFL season has moved on to greener NFL pastures. That means that the Roughriders will need to find some way to fill the 12 touchdown and 1500 yard gap that he is leaving in their offense. Fortunately the Roughriders did not lose Darian Durant. Durant managed to rank third amongst the CFL quarterbacks once the 2013 season was all said and done and he did so without even playing a full seasons worth of games. The man who’s never worn another team’s uniform played only 16 games and was responsible for 12 touchdowns and nearly 4200 passing yards. We’ll need to see just how well newcomers like Keith Toston and Anthony Allen perform on the ground before this wager becomes a yes or no.

Calgary Stampeders @ 5.00 – Unlike the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Calgary Stampeders will not be losing their offensive force in the running game. Jon Cornish will be making a return to his position with the Stampeders after breaking his own rushing record and adding 12 touchdowns to the Stampeder’s offensive onslaught. Drew Tate will still be at the helm of the team that lead the league in points scored per game last year. Tate, unfortunately, is still having health issues and the Stampeders will likely be relying on his backup quarterbacks Moniz and Mitchell. What went largely overlooked last year because of their incredible offense was just how impressive the Stamps were on the line last year. Only the Roughriders were able to keep their opponents to fewer points than Calgary last year and the next closest to them was nearly a full 50 points behind. Charleston Hughes, who was responsible for a league leading 18 sacks last year, will be back in a Calgary uniform this season. As long as the Stampeders can stay healthy and keep it together in the quarterback department, they should be a very real threat to win the Grey Cup.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats @ 7.00 – Like the Saskatchewan Roughriders, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are a really tough call. They were nearly forgotten about when the season started last year, as their 2012 campaign left them in the lower depths of the CFL regular season standings, but they surprised all of us and made a 2013 run that nearly resulted in a Grey Cup victory. The Ti-Cats, unfortunately, have had some roster adjustments that give us some pause. The most notable of those roster changes is in the quarter back department. Henry Burris has left for the Ottawa RedBlacks and since he was such a large contributing factor to their successful season in 2013, it’s tough to back them without his assistance. Zach Collaros seems to be the man that will take the lead at center for the foreseeable futures at least. The former Toronto Argonaut did more than a satisfactory job filling in for Ricky Ray last year when the Argonauts top offensive weapon was injured. The Ti-Cats are also losing some of their edge on defense which will prove troubling for a squad that allowed their opponents to score more points than themselves during the regular season. Linebacker and team tackle leader Jamall Johnson has headed to BC for the 2013 season.

Toronto Argonauts @ 7.00 – After searching long and hard we’ve finally found a CFL team with a stable quarterback that will be starting the 2014 season the same way he did the 2013. Former Edmonton Eskimo Ricky Ray had a substantial and immediate impact on the Argos when he switched to a blue jersey back in 2012 and they immediately won a Grey Cup for the first time in 8 years. Even though the Argos were forced to vacate their season a bit early after they lost the division finals to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2013, they are still easily one of the best teams in the CFL. Before you start to count your eggs though, there have been some major changes to the Argonauts roster outside of the quarterback department that may make you second guess a wager on Toronto’s pride. Two members of Toronto’s offense have retired following the 2013 sesaon. Jerious Norwood, who only came to Toronto from the NFL in 2013, made some good contributions as a running back, but has chosen to leave the game. As well, Chad Krackert has finally succumb to his leg injury and decided that professional football in no longer an option. We’ll need to see how Ricky Ray performs with his new offense to be certain, but if there’s one thing you learn betting on CFL football, Ricky Ray is not the kind of guy you want to bet against.

Montreal Alouettes @ 9.00 - The Alouettes are yet another CFL team making changes in the quarterback department and surely Anthony Calvillo will enjoy his retirement a lot more than he enjoyed the Alouettes’ 2013 CFL season. Montreal got off to an extremely rocky start last year that resulted in their head coach and general manager Dan Hawkins being fired after just five games, but they did manage to right the ship somewhat and just barely make their way into the post season. They now have a permanent leader in Tom Higgins who coached for both Saskatchewan and Calgary previously, but the big concern is over who will be replacing Calvillo. All signs point to Troy Smith right now, but as you know, a starting position on a CFL roster can be a fleeting thing. The Alouettes have two other quarterbacks on the roster with CFL experience under their belts. Smith’s biggest competition for the position will be Alex Brink. The former Winnipeg Blue Bomber has improved in every season he’s played and he managed to contribute 8 touchdowns to Winnipeg’s dismal season last year. This is another team that we really need to see in action before the value of the odds become apparent. There are just too many radical changes to their roster to be sure of how they’ll perform.

Edmonton Eskimos @ 11.00 – The Edmonton Eskimos are starting over in a lot of ways after their disappointing season last year that saw them unable to participate in the post season. They have done away with their head coach Kavis Reed and called upon Chris Jones to take the reins for them. Jones has spent a decade on the CFL sidelines as a defensive coordinator, but this will be his first crack at the head coaching position. The strategy behind hiring Chris Jones really has to be an attempt to clean up the Eskimos’ defense. Edmonton was only outdone by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers when it came to points against last season and their grand total for 2013 was a mind boggling 519. The Eskimos didn’t bring that much heat in the offense department last year either. They barely eclipsed the 400 point mark in their four win season. The bit of glimmer at the end of Edmonton’s dark tunnel is their receiving roster. Fred Stamps and Nate Coehoorn will be returning to the field for Edmonton in 2014. They combined for nearly 120 successful receptions last year. There’s a lot of cleanup work for the Eskimos to do before they once again become a threat in the CFL. Odds of 11.00 are pretty enticing, but they might be a better bet for 2015 at this point.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers @ 17.00 – The Winnipeg Blue Bombers may not be the first team that comes to mind when you mention the Grey Cup, but they have started to make some serious changes to their organization that could result in a much better season this time around. First and foremost, they’ve changed up the coaching staff. Mike O’Shea will be taking over the position of head coach and his experience as a player in the CFL as well as his time helping out behind the bench in Toronto should serve the Blue Bombers well. The Bombers also cut nearly a dozen players towards the end of preseason including their quarterback Max Hall. They have ended up with Drew Willy as their number one at center for this year. The former NFL member and Saskatchewan Roughrider has had a difficult time seeing the field despite his rampant ability to get signed by different teams. We’re not sure how he’ll perform for Winnipeg, but it would be difficult for him not to outshine their previous performances. The most important addition to the Bombers’ roster is an acquisition from the BC Lions. The Lions gave up Nick Moore to the Blue Bombers in what can only be described as an act of charity. Moore contributed more than 1,000 yards to the BC Lions’ offence last year.

Ottawa RedBlacks @ 22.00 – Although this won’t be the first time that Ottawa has hosted a CFL franchise, this will be the first season for the brand new Ottawa RedBlacks. They’ve taken over the bottom spot in the odds table, giving the Winnipeg Blue Bombers a much needed break, but there are quite a few sports bettors in Canada that think making these guys the underdog is a big mistake. They managed to add two really key people to their organization. The first, and likely most important, of those is Henry Burris. The veteran CFL quarterback singlehandedly brought the Hamilton TigerCats into the mix last season after he put up nearly 5,000 passing yards. The RedBlack also have something going for them on the sidelines. Rick Campbell is taking on the role of head coach. This will be the former Stampeder’s first time in that role, but he has personally been on two Grey Cup winning teams himself and that kind of experience will serve this newly assembled roster well.

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