The 2016 Canadian Football League (CFL) season kicks off on Thursday, June 23 with the Toronto Argonauts hosting the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Although Week 1 lines haven’t been released yet, Bovada has been offering Grey Cup odds for months. More recently, they also added win totals for the 2016 CFL season.
Last season, the Edmonton Eskimos defeated the Ottawa Redblacks 26-20 in the 103rd Grey Cup. Apparently oddsmakers are optimistic about the Eskimos chances of repeating, with Edmonton listed as the favorite (+400) to win the championship.
The table below displays the current Grey Cup odds and win totals at Bovada. It will be updated as the season progresses and more information becomes available.
|Team||Bovada (6/6/16)||Bovada (12/1/15)||Win Total||Over Juice||Under Juice|
|British Columbia Lions||+900||+900||8.5||-125||-105|
|Winnipeg Blue Bombers||+1000||+1200||6.5||-155||+125|
The 2016 CFL regular season runs from June 23 through November 5, with the 104th Grey Cup scheduled for November 27. Although it’s hardly a mainstream sport, the popularity of the CFL has been quietly growing in recent years. According to a 2015 study conducted by Vision Critical and University of Lethbridge sociologist Reginald Bibby, 25% of Canadians and 10% of Americans follow the CFL at least “fairly closely.”
The CFL will be a testing ground for many rule changes that NFL fans have demanded for years, and it will be interesting to see how these changes are implemented. Starting this season teams will be able to challenge pass interference, illegal contact and roughing the passer. They will also automatically review all unsuccessful two-point conversions.
I wanted to know whether sportsbooks had seen increasing volume or interest for the upcoming season so I reached out to Scott Cooley, an Odds Consultant for the market-setting Bookmaker sportsbook. According to Cooley, “The CFL for us is in that tertiary level. It’s behind secondary sports like MMA, golf, tennis and hockey in terms of volume. WNBA is comparable to the CFL as we book about the same amount of action with that sport.”
While WNBA games have $500 limits at Bookmaker, that figure is substantially higher for CFL games. “We take opening limits of $2K and then bump to $5K on gamedays,” said Cooley. He also echoed the sentiment that the sports popularity is rising. “We are expecting more action this season given the fact that a few games each week will be televised on the ESPN networks. Any time an event is nationally televised, we are usually going to see an increase in action.”
In terms of potential value on the futures market, I’m intrigued by the Montreal Alouettes. Although they have the worst odds of winning the championship, their win total (7.5) is actually a game higher than the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (6.5). They also made news this off-season by acquiring one of college football’s most intriguing prospects.
After being bypassed by every team in the 2016 NFL Draft, former Oregon Ducks quarterback Vernon Adams was traded from the B.C. Lions to the Montreal Alouettes in exchange for a 1st round pick in the 2017 CFL Draft. His size may have given NFL teams cause for concern, but his strong arm and mobility should make him a dangerous weapon — especially given the spacious dimensions of the CFL field.
The Alouettes’ odds of winning the championship have moved from +1400 to +1200 over the past six months, but I think that Over 7.5 is the much better value. It may be dangerous to place this much stock into an undersized rookie, but I think that Adams has the tools to thrive in the CFL.
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