The Canadian Football League wraps up today with the championship game from BC Place in Vancouver, British Columbia and we’ve got analysis and a winning selection for you to consider. Get ready for the Stamps and Ti-Cats, 102nd Grey Cup!
The 2014 CFL season comes to a close on Sunday Nov. 30th with the conclusion of the league championship, otherwise known as The Grey Cup. The game matches the best in the West versus the best in the East. This year, the Calgary Stampeders are big favourites to take home the championship against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The Stampeders are currently favoured to win by -9 points and the total is set at 52.5 points.
The Stampeders have been the class of the CFL all season long dominating every other team, especially those in the Western Division, which was comprised of much stronger teams compared to the East. Calgary boasts a league leading record of 16-3 SU compared to the Tiger-Cats at 10-9 SU. Both teams actually enter this game with identical 7-2 records in the final half of the season and the Ti-Cats were a dog three times, going 3-0 ATS.
These teams met twice during the regular season with Calgary winning both games SU but finishing only 1-1 ATS. Calgary was favoured by 9.5 points in the Week 4 matchup and only won by three points. In Week 8, these teams met again and Calgary was favoured by three points. Worth noting is that in both regular season matchups, Hamilton was missing their starting QB in Zach Collaros as well as their leading punt returner in Brandon Banks. Calgary was missing their All-Star running back Jon Cornish.
In the 2nd matchup, Hamilton backup QB Dan LeFevour had to fill in for Collaros and the game was tight with Calgary holding a three-point lead with 10 minutes to play in the fourth. Unfortunately, Hamilton’s third stringer QB Masoli had to enter the game late in the fourth quarter to fill in for LeFevour who went down with an injury. Instead of driving his team for a game tying or game winning drive, Masoli threw an untimely pick deep in his own zone, which sealed the victory for Calgary by essentially gifting them a TD. The other intangible to consider for the second matchup is that it was considered a Hamilton “home” game even though it was played at a replacement field where there were only 6500 fans. Tim Horton’s Stadium, the new home field for the Tiger-Cats wasn’t ready until their Labour Day game.
NEED TO KNOW
Aside from the head-to head matchups, here are some other key performance indicators to consider when handicapping this game.
1) Both of these teams were 7-2 in the second-half of the CFL season.
2) Both teams were missing key players during their regular season matchups – Cornish for the Stamps and Collaros and Banks for Hamilton.
3) Over the course of the CFL season, Calgary had the highest red zone percentage for scoring TD’s at 70% while Hamilton was last in the league at only 40%.
4) Calgary gave up the fewest number of QB sacks, whereas Hamilton gave up the highest number of QB sacks.
5) Calgary was #1 in points per game (PPG) and rushing yards per game all season long.
6) Calgary was the least penalized team in the CFL this year and Hamilton was the most, although during both of their matchups the number of penalties was essentially even.
7) Both teams are coached by accomplished CFL veterans. Hamilton’s Kent Austin is enjoying his third consecutive Grey Cup game winning his first one in 2012 and then losing last year to the heavily favoured Saskatchewan Roughriders.
HOW TO PLAY THIS GAME
Pick Sixty Sports is on the “dog” in this matchup. Hamilton has been playing better football than Calgary down the stretch factoring in the strength of their victories, the potency of their offense and the confidence that this team has achieved. Calgary will definitely try to control the line of scrimmage from the start in order to establish their run game but Hamilton has been best in the league this year defending the rush by allowing only 77 YPG. Calgary will have a tough time dealing with the speed of the Ti-Cats offense and the mobility of Collaros.
Given that the game is being played indoors at BC Place in Vancouver, both teams should put up points. However, we lean towards a well-oiled, perfectly humming, Hamilton offense to outscore Calgary and shock the CFL by winning its second Grey Cup Championship in three years. The moneyline is paying back at a generous +310 for the dog in this matchup and that’s worth a look. This line may not hit double-digits but getting more than a touchdown, we like the dog.
Play Hamilton +9