The triumphant return of the Canadian Football League culminates with the Grey Cup on Sunday. The league shutdown last season due to COVID without a championship game played for the first time in over 100 years. The wait was worth it for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who set up a rematch of the 2019 Grey Cup by winning their respective division finals. Winnipeg made its record 25th Grey Cup appearance two years ago beating Hamilton 33-12 for its 11th CFL championship. The Bombers posted the best record in the league this season going 11-3 and hit the board as a 4-point favorite to repeat as Grey Cup champs.
The Grey Cup final will take place on Sunday, December 12, 2021 at 6 p.m. ET at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, ON and will be televised on ESPN2.
CFL Odds to win Grey Cup
Hamilton Tiger-Cats +4
Winnipeg Blue Bombers -4
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Winnipeg was the best team during regular season going 11-3 and the Bombers overcame six turnovers to beat Saskatchewan 21-17 in the West final. Led by quarterback Zach Collaros, who led the league with 20 touchdown passes, the Bombers averaged a CFL best 25.8 points and also allowed the fewest points with only 188 conceded.
If there is a downside to this matchup it’s that the Bombers are playing a road game. The 108th edition of the Grey Cup will be played on Hamilton’s Tim Hortons Field. The Bombers were a perfect 7-0 at home during the regular season but just 4-3 on the road with two of those setbacks coming against East foes Toronto and Montreal.
There were some anxious moments for Winnipeg fans at the end of the season. The Bombers dropped consecutive games to Montreal, 28-14, and Calgary, 13-12, to end the season with the offense going stagnant. And five first half turnovers in the West Final was more cause for alarm. But like they did throughout the season, the Bombers controlled the second half and especially the fourth quarter to get by the Rough Riders.
Having Andrew Harris back in the lineup was a welcome sight. Out for nearly two months, Harris enjoyed his return with 136 yards and a TD on 23 carries. Winnipeg scored the only points in the fourth quarter and controlled the ball for over 11 minutes to overcome their mistakes. Collaros completed 81 percent of his passes in the game with three of his four errant throws resulting in interceptions. Defensively the Bombers came up with five sacks, none bigger than the strip-sack by Jackson Jeffcoat with Saskatchewan deep in Winnipeg territory and leading by three at the time.
Unlike their opponent Hamilton had to play an extra playoff game. The Ticats finished a game behind Toronto in the East standings and were forced to play Montreal in the East semifinals. Jeremiah Masoli threw for 184 yards and a TD and the defense recovered three fumbles, intercepted a pass and forced a turnover on downs while also recording six sacks in a dominant performance leading to the 23-12 victory.
The Tiger-Cats earned a return trip to the Grey Cup by knocking off Toronto in the East Final. And they did it behind Dane Evans, who replaced an ineffective Masoli in the first half. Evans completed all 16 of his throws for 249 yards and a touchdown and added two more scores on the ground to salt away a 27-19 victory.
The teams met in the first week of the regular season with Winnipeg prevailing 19-6 behind a stellar defensive effort. Hamilton scored on its first possession but was blanked the rest of the game. Winnipeg controlled the contest running for 149 yards while possessing the ball for over 33 minutes. The Ticats turned the ball over three times and failed to register a takeaway.
Free ATS Pick
Much like the Tampa Bay Bucs last NFL season, Hamilton gets the championship game in its home stadium and that’s certainly worth something. However, the Bombers chiseled off some of the rust from their late-season swoon and they are the best in the CFL. I don’t see the Ticats mustering up enough offense to win the game, but it should be close. As much as I want to take the points I have to stick with the better team winning by at least a touchdown.
CFL Pick: Winnipeg Blue Bombers -4 / UNDER 45.5
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