Ottawa Redblacks vs Calgary Stampeders 2018 Grey Cup Pick - Odds and ATS Predictions
The major story-line is of course, can the Stamps right the wrongs of 2016 (and 2017) and finally take the Grey Cup they so seemingly deserve. Calgary has dominated league play for years, but have fallen short late in the fourth quarter in back to back championship matches. This line will not have much bearing on the game's outcome, sometimes "revenge" can play a factor and a certain team can be more "amped" up than usual, but not here, both teams are coming to play.
The conditions they might be playing it in could be a little uncertain. Right now, the weather forecast calls for about 10 F and not much wind, but it's Edmonton in late November so there is always a chance the game is played in a blizzard, which would seem to benefit Ottawa rather than Calgary based on recent history. The grass was finally swapped out in 2010 for field turf, so the surface conditions shouldn't be a factor this time around (previous Grey Cups in Edmonton featured some horrific field conditions). Who is in the stands and who they are cheering for might play a small role in the game though. Edmonton is only a two-hour drive North of Calgary, I think it's reasonable to expect the stadium to be full of Stampeder fans on Sunday. Commonwealth is not really known as one of the louder stadiums to play in, so I'm not sure the crowd noise can disrupt the opposing offense, but it will undoubtedly feel like a home game for Calgary and could really feed into any momentum they make with their play. There is a small counter-point to this line which is Head Coach Dave Dickenson's somewhat disparaging comments towards Canadians getting picked up by the microphones during the West final. I couldn't believe it when I heard it live, but he actually yelled at a referee "Hey! Why don't you call some of those on O'shea (Winnipeg HC), ****ing Canadian!". The media picked up on the story and Dickenson apologized, but it will be interesting to see on game day if this story still has any steam and the other mostly Canadian fans start cheering loudly for the Redblacks just to spite Calgary.
When I look at the Calgary offense over the past five games, I'd have to give it a grade of competent. The team as a whole has only scored about 24 points per game, in the CFL that's not very good. Granted, they played mostly tough western division opponents. Still some of those defenses were beatable. I don't see any reason for that trend to be different this Sunday. Noel Thorpe (Ottawa DC) won several championships with Mark Trestman and AC in Montreal in the Glory days. Everyone remembers Anthony Calvillo and that offense but seldom do they recall the incredibly stout defense of Noel Thorpe. Jonathon Rose (Ottawa star DB) has been suspended for pushing an official in the Eastern final so that definitely hurts the Redblacks a bit, but they're relatively healthy and experienced in the back end, and I expect them to maintain their standard of coverage.
Where Calgary might find an advantage in the passing game is in the trenches. Ottawa has not done a great job putting pressure on the QB lately, and they're going up against an excellent O-line.
If the coverage can't hold Bo Levi Mitchell Reads deep ball first and has the potential to score quickly on any down anywhere on the field. That hasn't happened as much lately, the lack of Calgary offense has been attributed to the injuries they've suffered in their receiver core, which was basically everyone.
Calgary has got some guys back, and they added Chris Mathews (still a big target but seems to have lost a step), but they're still missing K. Jordan> He and Bo were literally unstoppable earlier in the year, but since Jordan has been out, Bo seems to be forcing the ball downfield expecting the other receivers to be as open as Jordan, but they're just not as good as him and lately those plays have ended up as incompletions.
Luckily for the Calgary offense, they're on the same team as the Calgary defense which has been playing lights out all year. The most formidable task in front of Ottawa is scoring on this defense and avoiding turnovers. The last time they met Ottawa only managed 3 points and obviously, they'll need to substantianly improve on that mark if they hope to keep this game competitive. I do like the underrated receiving core of the Redblacks though, especially 83 Feoli-Gudino. He's always clutch in big-time situations. I'd be very surprised if he doesn't make at least one big play for a crucial first down or maybe even a major.
The last time these teams met Calgary obviously got the better of the Redblacks downing them at home 27-3; however, these teams historically play each other fairly tight. In the last ten games, they've tied twice and had some 3-4 point games as well. The game earlier in the year in Calgary was much closer than the final scoreboard showed, Ottawa had a legitimate shot of winning that game up until the last half of the fourth quarter.
Ottawa will need to at the least stop the Calgary offense from lighting it up. The Stamps offense has been quiet lately, but they could explode at any time. If the RedBlacks can keep the Stampeder offense in check and hang around until the end, I think they have enough grinders and play-makers of their own to give themselves a shot at the upset in the fourth.
2018 Grey Cup Prediction ATS
It's not as easy to kneel out the clock in the CFL, and therefore the back-door potential is often huge. I've seen teams get 5-6 possessions in under 3 minutes. Ottawa will be hard to stop playing three-down football, for that reason, I'm going to take the +4.5 points and bank on the score being close one way or the other. Calgary is the better team, but Ottawa is a dangerous team, and I don't like spotting points to dangerous teams.