CFL West Division Odds: Expert Predictions and Analysis
The CFL's West Division has been dominated by Calgary over the course of the last handful of seasons, with the Stampeders claiming the crown in four of the last six seasons. Saskatchewan in 2013 and Edmonton in 2015 were the other two teams to win the division, and they are the two teams I believe have the best chance to dethrone the Stampeders once again. Both teams come into the season with high expectations. And with the Stamps expected to regress after back-to-back Grey Cup losses, a new West Division Champion should be crowned.
Let's look at the odds of each team to win the division and why they could or should do it.
Odds are courtesy of Sports Interaction
Calgary Stampeders +135 - Season Win Total: 11
The Calgary Stampeders come into this season as the odds-on favorite to capture their third straight West Division crown. I don't see it happening. They are off back-to-back Grey Cup losses. And while some may think it's motivation, I believe they are spent physically and emotionally and they will regress back to the rest of the pack. The Stamps do return their starting QB in Bo-Levi Mitchell, but they lose one of the best running backs in the league in Jerome Messam. Messam is going to be a big loss for the Stamps as his ability to keep defenses honest allowed the WRs time and space to make a play. They also own a very young receiving corps that they will need to steepen the learning curve and grow up in a hurry.
Edmonton Eskimos +300 - Season Win Total: 11
The Edmonton Eskimos are one of the two teams I am very high on this year. They return last year's Most Outstanding player, Mike Reilly, and I expect him to put up similar numbers to what he did last season (447/654 for 5,830 yards and 30 TDs and 12 rushing TDs). Reilly will have the same WRs he can rely on with the exception of Brandon Zylstra, who signed with the Minnesota Vikings. They bring back a talented O-Line that gave up just 27 sacks in 18 games last year. And barring any injuries to key contributors, they are the best team in the league on paper. They also own motivation to become just the seventh team in CFL history to win the Grey Cup on home soil. I believe they at least get to that game and will get there by taking the West Division crown away from Calgary.
Saskatchewan Roughriders +525 - Season Win Total: 8
The Roughriders made a splash and traded for a new starting QB, Zach Collaros. Collaros should benefit from a change in scenery as last year he struggled in Hamilton -- then again, so did everyone else. The Roughriders also made in a splash in free agency and added RB Jerome Messam to shore up a rushing unit that was paltry last season. Messam will be able to keep the defense honest and allow his teammates to make plays down the field in the passing game. The offensive line is intact, but options are limited in terms of depth. One wrong twist of an ankle or knee could put the O-Line in flux. and the offense could go down with it.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers +425 - Season Win Total: 10
The key to the Bombers season will be the health of their starting QB, Matt Nichols. And the day after I wrote this sentence he went down with a knee injury and is out 4-6 weeks. With Nichols, the offense had enough offensive weapons to make a push at the division crown, but under the guidance of a backup quarterback the Bombers should struggle early and find themselves too far out of touch from the leaders around Week 8 or 9.
British Columbia Lions +750 - Season Win Total: 6
The BC Lions come into this season looking to make amends for last season's 7-11 record and send legendary coach Wally Buono into retirement with a Grey Cup win. The Lions were a middling team last year in all offensive categories, and they return both Travis Lulay and Jonathan Jennings under center. Both QBs suffered injuries at one point during the season last year, so avoiding the QB carousel would serve the Lions well. They also have a wealth of RB options, but their O-line is the weak link. They gave up the most sacks in the league and have done very little this offseason to rectify that. The West Division is always much more competitive than the East, so the Lions will need to make hay against the East in order to entertain the thought of finishing in the postseason or with a home playoff game to help the cause. However, that's very unlikely to happen.
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