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Why the Calgary Stampeders are the favourites to win the 105th Grey Cup

Last season was a rollercoaster ride for the Canadian Football League, culminating in the 104th Grey Cup Final. The Ottawa Redblacks and Calgary Stampeders competed for the coveted trophy having seen their regular season head-to-head end in a Stampeders win and an unprecedented draw.

The final was presented as many ups and downs as the regular season, with the Ottawa Redblacks posting a strong lead before the Calgary Stampeders surged back to tie-up the game in the final minute. The game went to overtime and, quite remarkably, the Redblacks ran out victorious.

'BMO Field during the 104th Grey Cup' - User:Cmm3 (CC BY 4.0)

Calgary had spent the season on an incredible bounce-back after an opening game loss, ending the season 15-2-1, whereas the Redblacks snuck into the playoffs with an 8-9-1 record in the much weaker Eastern Conference. The Stampeders were also mourning the loss of one of their players, Mylan Hicks, who was the victim of a nightclub shooting on September 25.
Now we’re just a short time away from the 2017 CFL season from kicking off, so we look to see who the favourites are to take the 105th Grey Cup.

They’re favourites for a reason

After such a majestic regular season and post-season run came to such a crashing end, the Calgary Stampeders are seen as the favourites in the latest odds on bet365 at 11/4. Last season, the team managed to rank as one of the best defences in the league, allowing the least points and putting up the jointmost sacks in the regular season. The Stamps also notched the most points at 586, with quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and running back Jerome Messam proving themselves to be among the best in the CFL.

One of the highlight members of the Calgary team was Ciante Evans. The sophomore defensive back laid out 42 tackles and two interceptions in 14 games to be named a CFL All-Star. Then, in the Grey Cup final, Evans continued to impress, making four tackles and taking another interception.

Calgary’s defensive backs coach Kahlil Carter was full of praise for Evans: “He has some things he has to work on, but as far as having all the tools, Ciante is one of the top guys in the league and he'll continue to surprise this year."

Calgary’s 15-2-1 record in 2016 not only allowed them to lead the CFL, but it also tied the team’s record for most wins. Now, no one’s saying that they’re going to repeat such an accomplishment, but they certainly have the tools in the team to do so.

The Stampeders enter the 2017 CFL season with a very similar roster to last season, enduring a relatively quiet offseason due to coming so close to winning it all in 2016, but the addition of defensive lineman and 2012 Super Bowl winner Bryan Hall will only enhance the team’s claim.

They’re not dead-certain favourites right now, but as the new Canadian Football League season rolls in, the team with the strongest roster is leading the odds; and that’s the Calgary Stampeders.