CFL Futures: Stampeders Remain Grey Cup Faves Despite Chokejobs
Stampeders Remain CFL's Cream of the Crop
Sure, they choked their second consecutive Grey Cup game and are just 1-3 in their last four Grey Cup appearances but the Stampeders have consistently owned the regular season finishing first in four of the last five seasons and losing no more than four games.
Finishing first means the Stamps are only a win away from the title game. It's no wonder they enter the 2018 season as +300 favourites to win (Odds courtesy of Sports Interaction).
John Hufnagel has created a team worthy of being a dynasty with the league's most prolific quarterback in Bo Levi Mitchell and with nine all-stars in 2016 and seven in 2017. Jerome Messam is still a top running back, Charleston Hughes is one of the premier defensive ends, and Ciante Evans is an elite corner. Provided there are no significant subtractions to the team, the Stamps will be winning 14-16 games in 2018.
Calgary Must Get over Grey Cup Shortcomings
It was the longest five minutes of the Stampeders' season as they painfully watched as their 24-16 lead quickly turned to a 27-24 loss and their second consecutive defeat in the title game. A fumble led to the Argos tying the game and when Mitchell and the offence drove to the end zone, his potential game-winning touchdown pass was intercepted.
The Grey Cup loss encapsulates just how cruel Canadian football can get when the Stamps practically played flawlessly for most of the 19 games preceding the title game.
Fans were calling for head coach Dave Dickenson's head but that is just a kneejerk reaction to the back-to-back "choke jobs". Sure, Dickenson and his coaching staff made questionable calls but they're also the reason the team got this far.
Calgary management also made an emphatic move choosing not to renew defensive backs coach Kahlil Carter's contract. Cornerback Evans is a free agent and could be headed to the NFL. The 25-year-old has played three CFL seasons but has earned back-to-back All-Star honours. He'll leave a big hole in the secondary but the Stamps have enough talent to make-do without him.
Messam is in the twilight years of his career but he proved naysayers wrong with a strong outing in the Stamps' two playoff games and was named the top Canadian during the Grey Cup. He could use some help in the back and it needs to start next season. The running game has been a boon for the Stamps and greatly aids Mitchell. Speaking of, Calgary needs to secure their main man.
Mitchell has two more seasons left on his contract and stated he still wants to play in the NFL. The Stamps' window for winning Grey Cups begins and ends with the triggerman. Mitchell's numbers took a dip from his 2016 Most Outstanding Player form but he's primed to bounce back in 2017 with this excruciating loss as added motivation.
For Calgary, there isn't much to change. They'll get back to working and getting better and these losses only serve to motivate them. When the 2018 CFL season rolls in, one thing will be for certain: the Stampeders will be on top of the heap and will be gunning to return to the Grey Cup for the third consecutive season.
CFL Grey Cup Futures: Largely Unchanged from 2017
When bookmakers opened the 2018 Grey Cup odds, it remained largely similar to 2017. The Stamps, as mentioned, are the favourites to win at +300. Their conference rivals, the Edmonton Eskimos and Saskatchewan Roughriders are tied for second-place at +500 each.
The Eskis lost to the Stamps in the Conference Finals but still have the reigning Most Oustanding Player and 2015 Grey Cup MVP Mike Reilly leading the offence.
The largely improved Roughriders benefited from the stability of Kevin Glenn at quarterback and the league's second-best defence behind only Calgary. Despite being 10-8, the Roughriders also had the CFL's second-best point differential at +80.
The Bombers had the CFL's top-scoring offence and the Lions dealt with injuries to several of its key offensive players namely quarterback Jeremiah Johnson. The Argos finished 9-9 in the regular season and benefited from a first-round bye due to playoff seedings.
Betting On The 2018 CFL Season
Call us biased but the CFL is a better brand of football than the NFL. Sure, the top football talent are still south of the border but the CFL consistently produces come-from-behind victories, high-octane offence, and a faster paced game perfect for this generation of football fans. Fans head to online sportsbooks to bet while availing of the many signup promotions offered for all new players.
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