CFL Week 1 Odds, Betting Preview: Blue Bombers Favoured In Season-Opening Grey Cup Rematch

Montreal Alouettes quarterback Cody Fajardo (7) scrambles as the Montreal Alouettes beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 28-24 in the 110th edition of the Grey Cup at Tim Horton's Field in Hamilton, November 19, 2023

Football bettors don’t really kick into high gear until the fall, but if you can’t wait to wager on some pigskin, the CFL’s regular season kicks off Thursday with a Grey Cup rematch between the Montreal Alouettes and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Three other games are slated for the Week 1 schedule, including the Hamilton Tiger-Cats visiting the Calgary Stampeders on Friday, the Edmonton Elks hosting the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Saturday, and the Toronto Argonauts doing battle with the BC Lions at BMO Field on Sunday.

Alouettes to repeat as Grey Cup champions


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Week 1 is always difficult to predict as bettors get their first looks at meaningful games and each team’s new players and personnel. It’s probably wise to start slow and not blow your bankroll early in the season until you get a feel for how these teams plan to operate.

Here’s a look at the latest CFL Grey Cup outright odds, followed by our Week 1 betting preview:

Teambet365Sports InteractionNorthStar Bets
Winnipeg Blue Bombers+210+200+220
Toronto Argonauts+300+550+500
Montreal Alouettes+600+500+550
BC Lions+600+550+500
Saskatchewan Roughriders+1000+1200+1500
Ottawa Redblacks+1000+2000+2000
Hamilton Tiger-Cats+1100+800+900
Edmonton Elks+1500+1600+1800
Calgary Stampeders+1800+1600+1800

Montreal Alouettes @ Winnipeg Blue Bombers – June 6

Best moneyline odds: Bombers -275 (Betway), Alouettes +270 (NorthStar Bets)
Best spread odds: Bombers -6.5 (-110 @ Sports Interaction), Alouettes +7.5 (-118 @ 888)
Best over/under odds: Over 47 points (-111 @ Pinnacle), Under 48.5 points (-115 @ theScore Bet)

The Blue Bombers will be out for revenge after falling 28-24 to the Alouettes in the Grey Cup last season. Winnipeg was favoured by 8.5 points in that contest, but the Alouettes scored 21 points in the second half to snatch the victory away.

Now, the Blue Bombers are seeking a fifth consecutive Grey Cup appearance after a turbulent offseason that saw several key pieces move on. They lost three-time All-Star offensive lineman Jermarcus Hardrick, veteran receiver Rasheed Bailey, cornerback Winston Rose, linebacker Malik Clements, returner Janarion Grant and linebacker Thiadric Hansen. An even bigger blow was the retirement of defensive lineman Jackson Jeffcoat, the heartbeat of the defence for years. However, the team retained the services of reigning Most Outstanding Canadian Brady Oliveira and receiver Dalton Shoen. The Bombers are still the team to beat again this year, according to the sportsbooks, even with the roster shakeup.

Head coach Jason Maas transformed the Alouettes from pretenders to champions last season and now the challenge will be to defend the title, which is entirely plausible given the team managed to keep several key pieces from the championship run with plans to run it back. The team extended quarterback Cody Fajardo and receiver Tyson Philpot and re-signed top linebackers Darnell Sankey and Tyrice Beverette, two instrumental pieces in Montreal’s stout defence.

There is some change, though, as top wideout Austin Mack left for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, and veteran tailback William Stanback is now with the BC Lions, clearing the path for Walter Fletcher to be the lead back. Some off-field drama surrounding defensive lineman Shawn Lemon’s retirement and then his potential return after being suspended for gambling on games is shrouding the team, but that should be resolved in the coming weeks.

Pick: The Bombers will want to send a clear message that they’re still top dogs in the league and last year’s Grey Cup loss will only help fuel them to a victory at home in the season opener. Take the Bombers -6.5 while it’s still on the board before it moves to the key number of seven.

Bet on Alouettes vs. Blue Bombers

MTL +6.5
WPG -6.5

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Hamilton Tiger-Cats @ Calgary Stampeders – June 7

Best moneyline odds: Tiger-Cats -102 (Betano), Stampeders +102 (FanDuel)
Best spread odds: Tiger-Cats -1 (-104 @ BetRivers), Stampeders +1.5 (-110 @ FanDuel)
Best over/under odds: Over 47 points (-106 @ Pinnacle), Under 47.5 points (-115 @ Betway)

The Tiger-Cats overhauled their roster on defence ahead of the season following the retirement of beloved linebacker Simoni Lawrence, who is staying on with the team as a brand and community ambassador. Lawrence formed quite the duo with Jameer Thurman at the linebacker position last season for Hamilton, but Thurman also elected to move on, joining the Saskatchewan Roughriders. The Tiger-Cats did bring in one of the top corners in the league in Jamal Peters, and Dewayne Hendrix to bolster the defensive line.

Offensively, Hamilton is hoping veteran quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell can stay on the field and put his lengthy injury history behind him. Taylor Powell is waiting in the wings ready to take over, and he proved last year he’s more than capable of being a viable starter. James Butler is back to solidify the backfield, and the team re-signed the league’s top receiver last year, Tim White. Despite the widespread changes, Hamilton still looks no better than a .500 team and making the playoffs will be the goal this year.

Expectations are low in Calgary for the second straight season. The Stampeders edged into the playoffs with an awful 6-12 record, but they were more competitive than their record indicated, as five of those losses were by three points or less. A little better fortune and some more luck could mean the Stampeders are more like a .500 team instead of one of the worst in the league this time around.

Last year, the Stamps ranked last in the league in touchdowns (36) and average offensive yards per game (335.5) under quarterback Jake Maier in his first full season as a starter. Maier led the league with 363 completions, but he didn’t have anyone competent to throw to besides Reggie Begelton. Malik Henry has shown promise at receiver, but his bad luck with injuries will keep him out this season with a patellar tendon problem.

Defensively, the Stampeders should be around the middle of the pack again, but the addition of Demerio Houston, who led the league in interceptions with Winnipeg last season, should drastically help the secondary.

Most sportsbooks have set Calgary’s season win total at 6.5, but that could be a little low, given the existing talent on the squad and the bad luck this team experienced in close games last year.

Pick: Take the Stampeders outright in their season opener at home.

Saskatchewan Roughriders @ Edmonton Elks – June 8

Best moneyline odds: Elks -128 (Pinnacle), Roughriders +120 (Bet99)
Best spread odds: Elks -1.5 (-108 @ Pinnacle), Roughriders +2.5 (-110 @ TonyBet)
Best over/under odds: Over 46.5 points (-105 @ Pinnacle), Under 46.5 points (-110 @ bet365)

The Roughriders have a new head coach (Corey Mace) and a new lead tailback (A.J. Ouellette), but their success this year really hinges on a healthy season from 38-year-old quarterback Trevor Harris, who is coming back from a serious knee injury. The addition of Ouellette should help the Riders establish a solid running game (something they failed to do last year as one of the league’s worst rushing teams) and protect Harris in the pocket. Harris has some excellent receiving options in Shawn Bane and Kian Schaffer-Baker, so this team should be able to put some points on the board.

Defensively, the Roughriders allowed a league-worst 30.6 points per game last season, but their defensive line is solid with the addition of Malik Carney in free agency, and Thurman should fill the void at linebacker left by the retired Larry Dean. Questions remain in the secondary, and their success this season could hinge on how well they protect against the pass.

The Elks have been the league’s laughingstock in recent years, but the return of McLeod Bethel-Thompson to the CFL should help stabilize this young group. After a brief hiatus in the USFL, the two-time Grey Cup champion gives the Elks a legitimate gunslinger to complement and mentor the speedy Tre Ford at quarterback. Bethel-Thompson led the USFL in passing yards in 2023, and he was formerly one of the best quarterbacks in the CFL during his tenure with the Argonauts. He’ll have a pair of elite receivers – Eugene Lewis and Kurleigh Gittens Jr. – to throw to, so the Elks’ aerial attack should be fun to watch this season.

The major question marks heading into the season are on defence after the Elks allowed a league-worst 136.6 rushing yards per game last season. There wasn’t much done to address the defensive side of the ball in the offseason, so Edmonton could be involved in several shootouts this season.

Pick: Over 46.5 points.

Roughriders/Elks over 46.5 points


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BC Lions @ Toronto Argonauts – June 9

Best moneyline odds: Lions -250 (BetRivers), Argonauts +240 (Betway)
Best spread odds: Lions -5.5 (-106 @ PROLINE +), Argonauts +6 (-110 @ Betway)
Best over/under odds: Over 46.5 points (-112 @ PROLINE +), Under 47.5 points (-110 @ FanDuel)

Is this the year the Lions finally break through and dethrone the Bombers in the West Division? It certainly could be, and there’s added incentive this year with the Grey Cup being played in British Columbia.

Offensively, this team is in great shape. Stanback has been brought in to stabilize the running game, and quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. still has several solid receiving options despite the departures of Lucky Whitehead and Dominique Rhymes. Scoring won’t be a problem for this unit.

Defensively, the Lions lost standout Mathieu Betts to the NFL’s Detroit Lions after he amassed 18 sacks last year, but the group did gain former NFLer Christian Covington and Pete Robertson to wreak havoc on the defensive line. The Lions ranked in the middle of the pack in most defensive stat categories last year, and that’s likely where they’ll end up again.

The Argonauts opened with a season win total in the double digits, but now their total has fallen to around 8.5 after quarterback Chad Kelly was suspended for at least nine games for violating the league’s gender-based violence policy. Additionally, the team lost several key pieces from its 16-win season last year, including Adarius Pickett, Jamal Peters, Ouellette and Javon Leake, among others. Kelly’s suspension means Cameron Dukes will be QB1 in Toronto out of the gate, with veteran Nick Arbuckle waiting in the wings should he falter.

The vibes surrounding the Argos out of training camp aren’t good, but they could be a force to be reckoned with in the second half of the season, if and when Kelly returns. For now, they’re fade material.

Pick: Lions -5.5.