The Toronto Argonauts stopped the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ quest for a three-peat with a Grey Cup upset this Sunday. Toronto edged Winnipeg 24-23 in a game that featured constant lead changes, a pair of blocked field goals and some clutch interceptions. With Toronto now the new champion, what are the biggest lessons learned from the 2022 season? And are the Argonauts the favorites heading into 2023?
The 2022 CFL Season: Betting Takeaways
Toronto did what no team was able to do since 2019: beat Winnipeg in the postseason. The Argonauts not only won as 2-1 underdogs, but they extended their winning streak to a CFL-record seven straight Grey Cup title games. The Argonauts also won as a Grey Cup underdog for the fourth straight time.
But while Toronto won it all, the team was far from the best on the online sports betting lines. Toronto finished the year with a 13-7 record and went 11-8-1 against the spread (ATS). The 57.9 percent cover rate was profitable, but both Winnipeg (12-8-0) and British Columbia (BC) (12-8-0) did better at 60 percent.
Speaking of the Lions, the team also finished with the best cover rate among favorites at 69.2 percent (9-4-0). With star quarterback Nathan Rourke, the rate was at 71.4 percent (5-2-0). And on the flip side, their feline counterparts to the East – Hamilton – did the worst as chalk.
The Tiger-Cats went just 2-6 ATS (25 percent) as a favorite. Hamilton was just 7-12 ATS, which was the worst cover rate (36.8 percent) in the CFL.
Montreal, on the other hand, flourished as an underdog. The Alouettes covered or pushed eight of their 12 games (7-4-1) as one. In fact, Eastern underdogs proved to better bets online, finishing with a 24-21-1 record (53.3 percent). Out West, the Saskatchewan Roughriders did the worst as underdogs (2-7-0, 22.2 percent).
The Edmonton Elks tied for the worst finish in the CFL at 4-14. But one thing this team had going is the total: 11 of their 18 games went over (61.1 percent). We can “thank” their horrendous defense for allowing 33.3 points per game.
Onward to 2023: Who are the Favorites?
The outright odds for the 2023 Grey Cup will be released at some point. Bettors can expect Toronto and Winnipeg to be the early favorites to capture the title. It’s just a question of who will be favored. We’ll give the slight edge to Winnipeg as this team still has the two-time reigning Most Outstanding Player (MOP) in Zach Collaros.
He was not fully healthy in the Grey Cup, which will partially explain why he and the offense did not perform to their usual standards. Of course, most of the reason belongs to the Argonauts’ defense. This is still a unit that features three All-Stars plus the Grey Cup MVP in Henoc Muamba.
Not too far back will be the Lions, who feature arguably the best quarterback in the league: Rourke. It depends on whether he will return or if an NFL team will poach him. BC went 4-4 without Rourke and did not look anywhere near as dangerous.
Other teams to keep an eye on are the Calgary Stampeders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The former will roll with Jake Maeir as their QB while their former signal-caller, Bo Levi Mitchell, heads to the latter. Hamilton was derailed by injuries in 2022. A healthier team could be a dark horse in 2023, especially if Mitchell still has something left in the tank.
As for the rest of the teams, they have too many deficiencies to correct. Saskatchewan needs a quarterback and a better offensive line. Montreal needs an overall upgrade while Ottawa and Edmonton could be looking for new coaches.
Last but not least, keep a close eye on player movement. Plenty of star CFL players switch teams or depart for the NFL during the offseason. Take the early outright odds with a grain of salt as that could change significantly by the 2023 season’s start.