The 2019 Canadian Football League season kicks off Thursday, giving avid football fans and bettors the chance to watch and bet some football in the summer months before the another NFL and college season gets underway.
The Calgary Stampeders will look to repeat as Grey Cup champions after defeating the Ottawa Redblacks in last year’s title game. The CFL once again this season has a national TV contract in place with ESPN in the United States, which means every CFL regular season and playoff game will air on either ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN News or ESPN+ with the vast majority of games being available on the ESPN+ subscription platform.
The West Division has been the superior division in the CFL from top to bottom for the last several years. To illustrate that point in 2018, the two teams tied for last place in the West (BC and Edmonton) had 9-9 records while only the Ottawa Redblacks in the East Division had a record above .500 last season and they were the division champions.
It is looking like we could have a similar disparity between the two divisions in the 2019 season. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are clearly the team to beat in the East entering the season with the Toronto Argonauts and Montreal Alouettes both rebuilding and Ottawa in for some decline after significant personnel departures in the off-season.
In the West, the defending Grey Cup champion Stampeders have won the division five of the last six seasons. But they will face a greater challenge to repeat as Calgary’s defense has been largely rebuilt due to personnel losses. Meanwhile, every other team in the division — Edmonton, Winnipeg, Saskatchewan and British Columbia — look to be improved from a season ago and each of those teams except Edmonton made the playoffs last season.
The Stampeders are the favorite to win the Grey Cup, currently listed at 11-4 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook and the top three favorites to win it all reside in the West Division (Calgary, BC at 3-1 and Winnipeg 5-1). Montreal is at the bottom of the Grey Cup futures board as the Alouettes are 20-1 to win the title and enter the season as a franchise filled with turmoil after the unexpected firing of head coach Mike Sherman just a week before the season.
I like the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who are 6-1 in the SuperBook’s future book, to represent the East in the Grey Cup under the guidance of new head coach Orlondo Steinauer as they have the best roster in that division on paper.
I’m going to call for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to win the West and face Hamilton in the Grey Cup. Calgary has owned the West Division but they’ve lost a lot of talent and experience on defense. Winnipeg has gotten better with each season under their current head coach Mike O’Shea and QB Matt Nichols. I think the Blue Bombers have it in them to take that final step and at least get to the Grey Cup.
In the Grey Cup game which takes place in Calgary on Nov. 24, I’ll go with the Tiger-Cats to lift the trophy at McMahon Stadium behind one of the best QB’s in the league, Jeremiah Masoli, leading a very explosive offense to go with a vastly improved defense entering the season.
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