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Does Manziel Really Increase Tiger-Cats’ Odds of Winning Grey Cup?

Johnny Manziel throws a football at Hamilton Tiger-Cats practice

Johnny Manziel heading north of the border to play in the CFL was one of the biggest gets for the league in terms of pure exposure. And while the “Johnny Football” train is picking up plenty of steam, bettors need to wonder: does Manziel really help the Ticats win a Grey Cup?

The Tiger-Cats, who have the third-best odds to win the Grey Cup after the Manziel signing, went 6-12 last season. And – surprisingly – it wasn’t quarterback play that sunk the team. Starter Jeremiah Masoli completed 63.7 percent of his passes for 15 touchdowns and five interceptions in 12 games.

What really caused the downfall of the Tiger-Cats in 2017 was their dreadful rushing offense and less-than-average defense. Hamilton had the second-fewest rushing yards in the CFL last season, which resulted in the team being one of the lowest-scoring teams and posting one of the worst times of possession.

Defensively, the team was all-or-nothing. Despite finishing third in sacks, fourth in interceptions and first in forced fumbles, the Tiger-Cats allowed the second-most points in the league. The gambling mentality of their secondary was fun to watch but caused far too many big plays.

Manziel has always been more of a scrambler than a run-for-yards type of quarterback but the added size of the CFL field could help give the former Cleveland Browns signal-caller more room to run. If Manziel can prove that he can get it done with his feet while still being a competent, accurate thrower, then playing him in a situational role with Masoli could be a boon for the Tiger-Cats offense.

Manziel can’t fix Hamilton’s defense but relieving some of the pressure on his defensive teammates could go a long way to boosting the Tiger-Cats into contention – at least in the weak Eastern Conference.

Grey Cup Favorites: Calgary Stampeders

The Tiger-Cats and the rest of the CFL are chasing the Calgary Stampeders, who are +280 favorites to claim their first Grey Cup since 2014.

The Stamps return the bulk of an offense that paced the CFL in points and time of possession while allowing the fewest sacks and turnovers. Star quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell was unstoppable at times in 2017 but replacing running back Jerome Messam will be a difficult task.

The Stampeders rushed the ball 333 times for 1,663 yards in 2017. Messam accounted for over 60 percent of those two numbers. Who steps up and fills that void is uncertain, which could cause a bit of a drop-off for the Calgary offense.

Even if the offense falters slightly, the Stampeders had one of the best defenses in the CFL last season. Calgary finished in the top two in the league in points allowed, sacks and interceptions. Losing Tommy Campbell from the secondary hurts a bit but the Stampeders were able to keep their stud defense intact for the most part.

2018 Grey Cup Odds
Calgary Stampeders+280
Edmonton Eskimos+500
Hamilton Tiger-Cats+550
Winnipeg Blue Bombers+650
Saskatchewan Roughriders+700
Toronto Argonauts+700
Ottawa Redblacks+950
B.C. Lions+1200
Montreal Alouettes+1400

Odds as of June 14 at Bovada