2015 CFL Preview: Early Grey Cup Outlook

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The season has yet to start but it is time to look ahead to November when two teams travel to Winnipeg for the 103rd Grey Cup.

Three of the last five years the West has ruled this game in that constant battle among the two divisions.

For two years the west has been the better division and for two years the east sent in the same representative.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are quickly becoming the Buffalo Bills of the CFL. The Bills were the most dominant team of a weaker conference in the 1990s and from 1990 until 1993 they were the AFC champions and made the Super Bowl.

Every year the Bills lost the Super Bowl in one of the worst showings in big games in the history of sports.

So far the Tiger-Cats are halfway to that mark going to two Grey Cups and losing both. Last year was particularly tough as a Brandon Banks kick return for a touchdown was called back due to an illegal block.

That touchdown was the winning score for the Ticats and when it was called back the game was essentially over with Hamilton getting little time to march down the field and score another to win the game.

So far the Ticats are not having a great time in the biggest game while they continue to be the best team in the East.

They may have a shot of making another Grey Cup this year and will hope to figure things out in the biggest game to take their first Grey Cup since 1999.

Then again the west is still there with some very good teams as the Calgary Stampeders return for another year this time trying to become the first repeat champion since the Montreal Alouettes won in 2009 and 2010.

Both of the teams that faced off in BC last year will look to get back but like every season that is easier said than done.

The east looks to be better than last year as a year of instability for every team gives way to a much sturdier group of teams.

The Ticats themselves will enjoy some stability with a quarterback that will enter his second year as the head of the offence.

Meanwhile the Argos head into the season relatively healthy and hope no more injuries can hurt them.

The Alouettes enter the season without a change at coach for the first time in two years while they seem to have found their starting quarterback.

The REDBLACKS are entering a second season where things are a little more figured out than their expansion year.

In the west it is another strong contingent as Calgary will have to fend of challenges from an Edmonton team that seems ready to take another step this year and a Saskatchewan team that has consistently challenged the top teams.

Meanwhile Winnipeg looks to take another step after rebuilding last year but falling short at the end of the season and the Lions hope a new coach and the return of their quarterback can put them into the hunt for the top of the division this year.

The battles should be better this year and it will all get even more intense when the payoffs start and everything is on the line.

CFL East

The East was a mess last year with so much uncertainty throughout the year with injuries and changes dominating the headlines in the division. There was the expansion team that couldn’t figure things out, the team with a new coach and new quarterback, the team with injuries to every major player, and the team who lost their biggest addition for the first half of the year. It was an interesting year where teams had to figure out how to win without some of their best players and that had some negative effects. Three teams tied with a 9-9 record and the tiebreakers put Hamilton just ahead of Montreal. Meanwhile Toronto was eliminated in the least week giving way to the Lions in the crossover. The East returns this year clearly looking for a better showing and from the looks of it they should get that better showing. Hamilton looks like the better team in the division as they enter the year with fewer questions than any other team. They have still been hurt by injuries but seem to be the most put together team to start the season. The Toronto Argonauts have a team full of top talent and are always a threat to win the grey Cup but have had issues keeping that talent healthy. They start the season with Ricky Ray on the Injured List leaving a big gap at quarterback but they still have some great talent. Recent additions after training camp may prove to be a big boost for both offence and defence giving them just enough to stay alive until Ray’s return. The Montreal Alouettes are a team with little injuries heading into the season but there is still concern over whether or not Jonathan Crompton can be the starting quarterback that they need to win the Grey Cup. Meanwhile the Ottawa REDBLACKS are a much more stable team than last year with another off-season under their belt and a full season to figure out how to do things as a team. They will be better than last year but they are still an expansion team and will still struggle. With Hamilton looking more stable than they rest they seem to be headed for first place while the Argos and Als slot in behind them. The Argos look like they are better but need to be good without Ray while the Alouettes must prove that they are truly a playoff team. They will all be good enough to avoid the crossover this year as they go to an all east playoffs. When it comes down to the end of everything the Alouettes do not seem to have the talent needed to get past the Argos with Ricky Ray leading the way in the playoffs. The finals will come down to the oldest rivalry in the CFL as the Ticats and Argos face-off. Looking at it now it will be a tight battle but Hamilton, being together for the entire year as opposed to Ray still returning from surgery, will come out on top to represent the east for the third time in as many years.

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East Division Champion:
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CFL West

The West has been the dominant division through last year but that doesn’t mean life is simple in the west. The competition is huge and to be a winning team in the west is a major challenge let alone to win the division. Teams in the west must be completely put together with little to no weaknesses or they will be exposed. That was the case last year when the Saskatchewan Roughriders showed that they had little to no passing game. They fell fast with the loss of Durant and nobody else to hold the passing game together. Meanwhile the Calgary Stampeders had everything put together and only lost three games for a very dominant season. The story of the year was the rebound of two teams that sat at the bottom of the league the year before. Edmonton and Winnipeg had great years with new coaches and a new sense of commitment to a rebuilding plans. Although Winnipeg fell off at the end of the year Edmonton stayed strong throughout everything and proved to be another contender. This year all of these teams return looking for a better chance at getting a very tough western division crown. The Stampeders are back with a relatively unchanged team and are strong as ever. With John Hufnagel in his last year as head coach they are not short of motivation to win the west and another Grey Cup. The Edmonton Eskimos will be hoping to prove that last year was no fluke and that they are ready to compete year after year. The defence remains great and if the offence can improve they could be challenging the Stamps for first. The Roughriders return with a new offensive mindset and a heathy Durant I what should be a better full season. If they can play up to their potential and avoid injures they may compete for the top spot. Meanwhile Winnipeg and BC will be looking to figure things out and just make the playoffs. The Blue Bombers will be better but might not be good enough while the Lions are in for a transition with their new coach. Heading into the end of the season either could compete for the crossover but neither will likely get that far. Instead the top three will gain move into the playoffs and again will put together a very tough playoff run. The Riders and Eskimos will face off again this year and with the same result as the Riders will fall to the better defence in Edmonton. The Battle of Alberta will decide the western division for a second year in a row but it may come out differently. Another year under their head coach gives the Eskimos a better chance this time around and they will take it to win the west. The Eskimos will return to the Grey Cup for the first time since 2005 as they hope to continue the dominance of the west in Winnipeg.

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West Division Champion:
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103rd Grey Cup
The Grey Cup will be an interesting game as Winnipeg is one of the coldest and windiest cities in Canada. So the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Edmonton Eskimos will need to deal with the weather at Investors Group Field along with dealing with the issues that their opponents present. Both will bring a good defence and a good offence into the game but the better defence will be the Eskimos. As everyone knows defence wins championships and for Edmonton as that is good news as the Ticats will once again drop a Grey Cup and creep ever closer to that mark set by the Bills as they will lose their third straight Grey Cup while Edmonton takes their first since 2005.

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Comments
2 Responses to “2015 CFL Preview: Early Grey Cup Outlook”
  1. Oscar says:

    Where did the REDBLACKS come from and how do they stack up against the Eskimos?

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