Football north of the border continues to gear up for the 2019 season. Since football up north gets a jump on the NFL with a game schedule that starts in mid-June, the CFL free agency period and other player signings during the offseason are in full swing.
The nine-team league features four teams in the East Division and five teams in the West Division playing as extended 18-game regular season schedule. The top team in each division along with the next four best teams in the overall standings qualify for the Grey Cup Playoffs. The winning team from each division after two rounds of postseason play then square off against one another in the annual Grey Cup Championship towards the end of November.
With Intertops online sportsbook posting the CFL futures odds to win the 2019 league title, the following is a closer look at the value in the numbers.
Going Chalk With Calgary
Following back-to-back heart-breaking losses to the Ottawa RedBlacks and the Toronto Argonauts in the previous two Grey Cup title games as favorites, the Calgary Stampeders finally sealed the deal as CFL Champions in 2018 with a 27-16 victory over Ottawa in last year’s title game as 4.5-point favorites.
Calgary could be considered the New England Patriots of the CFL with three-straight trips to the championship game. The Stampeders have posted the best straight-up record in the league over the past three campaigns and everything points to another title run this season as +250 favorites to repeat as champs on the CFL Grey Cup futures board.
Turnover in the CFL from team to team remains high, but the stability at the quarterback position in Bo Levi Mitchell does give Calgary the leg up on the competition. He finished third in the CFL last season in total passing yards (5,124) and Mitchell topped the list in touchdown throws with 35 against 14 interceptions. Another big plus was his ability to spread the ball around to a number of different targets. The top receiver for the Stampeders in 2018 was Kamar Jorden and he was ranked 15th in the league with 55 receptions for 944 total receiving yards.
RedBlacks Still Lead the Charge in The East
Ottawa came into the CFL as an expansion team ahead of the 2014 season and it went on to post two SU wins in 18 games in its inaugural campaign. The turnaround was quick with a 12-6 mark the following season to win the East Division. The RedBlacks won the East again in 2016 on its way to that stunning 39-33 upset against Calgary as 9.5-point underdogs in the Grey Cup title game.
While they slipped backwards to second place in the East in 2017 with an overall record of 8-9-1, last season’s 11-7 mark was good enough to secure the division title for the third time in four years.
Heading into 2019, the RedBlacks join the West Division’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the British Columbia Lions as a trio of +550 second-favorites to win the CFL title. The value in Ottawa’s odds is the highest of the three as the clear favorite to win the East again this season. However, getting past Calgary in a rematch of last season’s Grey Cup Championship would still be a tall task.
Edmonton is Ready to Bounce Back Out West
The CFL’s West Division has been far more competitive than the East in recent years and that should be the case again this season. Four of the five teams qualified for the playoffs with Edmonton the odd man out at an even 9-9. The Eskimos stumbled to a 3-6 record over the second half of the 2018 season and they lost a tiebreaker against BC for that final postseason spot.
The betting odds that Edmonton bounces all the way to a league title in 2019 have been set at +900 as the top value pick on the board. With Mike Reilly at quarterback as the most prolific passer in the CFL (5,562 passing yards and 30 touchdown throws), he gives his team a fighting chance.