2019 Grey Cup Odds - Pick ATS
There is no shortage of storylines heading into the 107th Grey Cup when the 16-3 Hamilton Tiger-Cats meet the 13-7 Winnipeg Blue Bombers at McMahon Stadium in Calgary. Chief among lines is Bomber’s QB Zach Collaros facing off against his former team, as well as MLB Simone Lawrence, who sidelined Collaros for 16 weeks with a helmet to helmet hit in Week 1. As usual, the line we're most interested in is the one that presently has the Blue Bombers as +3.5 "home dogs"; the total of 51.5, is about what the sum has been nearly every game this season.
Hamilton’s success this year shouldn’t really be that much of a surprise. The Johnny Manziel experiment aside, the Ti-Cats were pretty good under HC Jude Jones and in recent memory, has not been the dysfunctional, perennial losers of old that they were for about two decades. Under HC Orlando Stienhuer, they've taken a step up, and the only surprising thing is that they are doing it with a rookie QB. In Week 7 QB1 Jason Masoli tore his ACL and in comes ex-Tulsa QB Dane Evans who wins that game and eight of the next ten he starts, not including the East division final, which he also won. Evan’s first win was against the undefeated (at the time) Blue Bombers, and I thought the Cats were done in that game when Masoli went out. Still, Evans played better than Masoli, the Ti-Cat defense produced seven turnovers, and the previously undefeated Bombers went down in flames. My angle on that game was that Hamilton hadn’t beaten anyone good, and Winnipeg would cover, I was wrong, but when I look through their body of work this year, for the most part not much has changed. Let’s look at what I think is some of their most impressive wins. Number one for me is when they beat Winnipeg 33-13 in the ‘Peg Week 16, backup QB Chris Streveler started for the Blue and Gold, but it's still a quality win in my books. The week before, they went into Edmonton and won SU 30-27, which is a decent W and on par with their 23-30 victory over the Calgary Stampeders at home Week 5. The rest of their wins were, for the most part, against bad teams, but they won handily, and beating teams you should is the mark of a good team. I have a lot more respect for the Tabbies now than I did Week 7, but they did have a "cupcake schedule" to be sure, including perfectly timed bye weeks at 6, 18, and before the Division final. They dominated the Eskimos 16-36 last week at home where they went 9-0 SU on the season, so there is no doubt the Ti-Cats are a force to be reckoned with, but it’s difficult to use recent history to gauge precisely how good they really are because they haven’t been tested much. Their 1-2 tally on the road against Western teams with winning records doesn’t look great, but if you compare it to Winnipeg’s, it’s actually better (in the regular season).
The Bombers went 0-3 on the road against Saskatchewan and Calgary until the playoffs, where they won in McMahon and Mosaic Stadium, arguably the two toughest places to play in the CFL (tied with Tim Horton's field in Hamilton of course). Winnipeg took a completely different path to the dance. If Hamilton took the elevator, then Winnipeg took the stairs. In the West semi-final against Calgary, the Bombers utilized a dual QB system with starter Zach Collaros representing the throwing threat and Chris Streveler running for big chunks, together with some big turnovers created by the defense, Winnipeg went on to win 35-14. Finally, beating Calgary in the playoffs and earning them a spot in the West Final against Saskatchewan. In some regards, Winnipeg was lucky to leave Mosaic with the win. Saskatchewan QB Cody Fajardo played with a torn oblique muscle that didn't hamper his short to intermediate throws, but you could see he didn't have the strength to throw the long ones. The Riders still found ways to get into the red zone, but thanks to a bizarre play call on second and goal, which had back up QB Bryan Bennet line up in Shotgun where he would inevitably be sacked, as well as a last-second throw to an open receiver that hit the uprights, the riders went 1-3 in scoring position and ultimately went down 20-13. Nonetheless, two impressive victories by the Bombers.
This will be the third time this year these two rivals of recent memory meet (Winnipeg was in the East division before Ottawa came back). The first meeting was the game I mentioned earlier in Hamilton when Masoli went out, and Evans came in, and the Tiger-Cats surprised some folks, including myself, as they won and covered as dogs 15-23. The second meeting between these two was even more shocking when they went into Winnipeg and blew them out of their own barn 33-13. Chris Streveler started that game, and teams were beginning to adjust to his heavy run, sometimes pass, option a lot style of play, but it still stands out to me as an impressive win.
Hamilton is favored for a reason. They have the best overall record, the best head to head record, the number one scoring offense in the league, their defensive line is unstoppable. If this is a regular-season game, I'm probably backing them. The fact that it's a championship game changes things a bit when you consider the HC has only coached one CFL playoff game, and the Starting QB has only played in one playoff game. Football is a game of inches, and in the playoffs, those inches are shorter. If the HC and QB can execute their game plan without their lack of experience tripping them up, the Ti-Cats should do fine.
The Bombers, or should I say the “new look” Bombers now that one-time league MOP QB Zach Collaros is at the controls, have some momentum heading into Sunday’s showdown. Often teams that take the long route to the big game end up losing because they put everything they have into getting there and then don’t have enough left in the tank to finish. I don’t sense that with Winnipeg here, they haven’t suffered a bunch of injuries and will be fielding a "battle-hardened" group that will be healthy and ready come game time. Winnipeg will probably need to win the turnover battle to come out on top because even with Collaros bringing the quick-strike offense back, I don't think it can keep up with Hamilton. The front four for the Bombers have to generate pressure on the QB without much help as Evans has been torching teams that try to blitz him. For me, in terms of X's and O's, it's the most crucial match up. The Bomber's secondary can cover Brandon Banks, but not forever. The Bombers need to find a way to get to Evans, as well as create at least one turnover, and they can win the "Drought Bowl".
Both teams are surprisingly healthy, considering they've just finished an entire season of football plus playoffs. Hamilton has been on the bye week basically since the beginning of October, so maybe no surprise there. Winnipeg's starting center went down a few weeks ago, but Replacement Cody Speller has been doing a bang-up job so far, and I expect that to continue. Bomber MLB Adam Bighill injured his wrist in last week's tilt, and no one knows how bad of course, but he might have a club for a hand this week.
The weather on Sunday is expected to be nice for this time year with light winds and a temperature of around 36. It is in Calgary, though, so you never know, they have a saying there; "if you don't like the weather, wait 20 minutes", it really can be sunny there one minute and then start snowing the next, seriously.
- Winnipeg is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games
- Winnipeg is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
- The total has gone OVER in 4 of Winnipeg's last 5 games
- Hamilton is 7-1 ATS in its last 8 games
- Hamilton is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
- The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Hamilton's last 6 games
- Get more details: 2019 Grey Cup Match-up Stats