Bettors Like Calgary Stampeders' Odds as Big Grey Cup Favourites

Ricky Rothstein | Updated Jun 20, 2017

Stampeders

The Calgary Stampeders almost had a historic 2016 regular season in the CFL, but they not only came up short of a league record but also were victims of one of the biggest-ever upsets in the Grey Cup. Sometimes losses like that can ruin a team. Other times, they can bring a club together. Which will it be in 2017 for the Stampeders? They are +260 Sports Interaction favourites to win the eighth Grey Cup in franchise history.

Calgary Stampeders Grey Cup Odds

Calgary finished the 2016 regular season at 15-2-1, by far the best mark in the league. The Stamps had a chance for the best record in league history, simply needing a win in the finale against at a bad Montreal team. However, Calgary coach Dave Dickenson didn’t want to risk injury, sitting star quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and leave leading receiver Marquay McDaniel at home. The Alouettes, as 15-point underdogs, won 17-8 to snap the Stampeders’ 14-game winning streak and 16-game unbeaten string. Members of the 1989 Edmonton Eskimos no doubt were celebrating that day as they retained the best mark in CFL history at 16-2.

The Stamps shrugged off that defeat to rout BC 42-15 in the Western Final, and they were 9.5-point favourites in the Grey Cup against Ottawa, which was just 8-9-1 in the regular season to win the weak East Division. However, the Redblacks pulled off the 39-33 overtime stunner. Henry Burris hit Ernest Jackson on an 18-yard TD on Ottawa’s first possession of OT, with Jackson first juggling the ball. Calgary then went three-and-out on its possession. The Redblacks’ defense intercepted Mitchell three times.

Calgary Stampeders’ Grey Cup Hangover?

In the NFL these days, losing in the Super Bowl is a death knell for the following season. No Super Bowl loser has returned to that game the following year since the 1993 Buffalo Bills. The Seattle Seahawks lost Super Bowl XLIX a few years ago in about the worst fashion possible to the New England Patriots. Many around the NFL believe the Seahawks still haven’t recovered from that crushing defeat and they haven’t come close to returning.

There are also examples of teams finding plenty of motivation from a gutting championship loss. Ottawa lost the 2015 Grey Cup 26-20 to Edmonton before pulling the 2016 surprise. Mitchell recently referred to the NBA Finals as inspiration. The Golden State Warriors won a league-record 73 regular-season games in the 2015-16 campaign but lost in the Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers, becoming the first team to ever blow a 3-1 series lead in the Finals. The Warriors got redemption in this year’s Finals by knocking off the Cavs in five.

“I do draw parallels, because that’s us as far as understanding that it doesn’t have to go the other way. You don’t have to spiral down, you don’t have to spiral down,” Mitchell recently told the Calgary Herald.

Most of the key Stampeders are back, led by Mitchell. He was the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player in 2016. Mitchell was second overall in passing with 5,385 yards and threw a CFL-high 32 TD passes. Teammates Jerome Messam (Most Outstanding Canadian), DaVaris Daniels (Most Outstanding Rookie), Derek Dennis (Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman) and Dickenson (CFL Coach of the Year) also took home honours. Messam led the CFL in rushing with 1,198 yards and had 11 TDs.  Daniels had 51 catches for 885 yards and nine TDs in 11 games. Dickenson’s 15 victories were a CFL record for a first-year head coach.

Who Backs Up Mitchell?

One big question is at backup quarterback after the Stamps traded Drew Tate to Ottawa for a 2018 fifth-round draft pick. In 2014, Tate helped the Stampeders capture the 102nd Grey Cup with a win over Hamilton where he had two rushing touchdowns. The battle in camp and the preseason to replace Tate as the No. 2 was between Andrew Buckley, Mitchell Gale and Ricky Stanzi. Buckley, last year’s No. 3, is expected to be the guy.

Last year, the Stampeders used 11 different players on their offensive line and led the league in points scored (586) and fewest sacks allowed (20). There are a few questions there after Dennis signed with Saskatchewan in free agency and former first-round draft pick Karl Lavoie retired. A few other guys are recovering from serious injuries.

On defense, lineman Cordarro Law could miss the season with a broken ankle. After signing with the team in early-October, Law had five sacks in the Stamps’ final six contests of 2016.  Middle linebacker Deron Mayo is recovering from a major knee injury. Calgary traded up in this year’s draft to take defensive tackle Randy Colling at No. 6 overall. He was born in the U.S. but recently obtained his Canadian citizenship, qualifying for national status. Fellow lineman Junior Turner is recovering from surgery and will start season on the injury list.

Calgary Stampeders CFL Predictions

Calgary didn’t miss much of a beat in finishing the preseason 2-0 (not that it matters as the team was 1-1 in the 2016 preseason). The Stamps open the season with payback on their minds at Ottawa on June 23. As long as Mitchell stays healthy, Calgary should be the favoured Grey Cup champion.

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