Sunday November 19 is the 110th Grey Cup. The 2023 game will be played at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ontario where the Montreal Alouettes take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Montreal finished the regular season with an 11-7 record while Winnipeg closed out with a 14-4 mark.
The teams met in week 4 and week 12 of the regular season. The Bombers won both of them, 17-3 in Montreal in the first of those games and a more comfortable 47-17 win on their own turf at the end of August.
This will be a fourth straight Grey Cup Final for the Bombers, winners in 2019 and 2021 before falling to the Toronto Argonauts 24-23 last year. Montreal have not made it to a Grey Cup Final since 2010 when they picked up their seventh win compared to Winnipeg’s 12.
Another win for the Bombers will have this team on the brink of a dynasty. The Edmonton Eskimos won the Grey Cup in five straight seasons from 1978-1982. That team also lifted the Grey Cup in 1975 as well as being the beaten finalists in 1973, 1974 and 1977, making nine appearances in 10 years.
The Bombers are still a fair way short of that sort of level in their fourth straight appearance but they will have an eye on 2025 when the Grey Cup will be played at their home stadium, IG Field.
It is sure to be one of the biggest matches of the year for the betting sites with plenty of betting turnover expected. On paper this looks a bit of a one sided game with the Bombers the hot favourite but will it be as simple as that? Let’s take a look at the 2023 Grey Cup.
It is fair to say that the result of this game was a shock. The Toronto Argonauts were the hot favourites coming in but they turned the ball over nine times when the pressure was on and that was plenty for the Alouettes to take advantage of. You simply cannot turn the ball over nine times and win a game.
Some credit has to go to the winning team of course but despite the strong performance from the Als defence, it smacked more of the Argos falling apart and throwing away a golden opportunity to make it to another Grey Cup Final.
Pick 6’s from both Kabion Ento and Marc-Antoine Dequoy were the deciding factor as part of a four interception game. Toronto outgained Montreal by almost two yards to one through the contest but their inability to keep hold of the ball made that worthless.
Dequoy’s was the first score of the game, ending a promising Argos drive when he picked off quarterback Chad Kelly in the end zone before returning it 101 yards. That looked to unnerve Toronto and from then on it was a case of trying too hard to make up for mistakes only to make bigger problems for themselves.
21 of the 38 points that the Alouettes put up came off turnovers, also forcing a fumble while the defence stopped Toronto on downs on four separate occasions. The defence are going to have to be in similar form when they take on the Bombers at the weekend.
A bye as winners of the West means that this is the only game that the Blue Bombers have played so far in the postseason. They saw off the BC Lions by a score of 24-13, that team the one who had chased them in the division all season, inflicting their worst defeat back in week 3.
The Bombers held an 18-10 lead at half time with the defence completely shutting things down in the second half, holding the Lions to a single field goal in the second half and 189 yards of net offence over the entire game. Three interceptions and nine sacks helped the Bombers along in a low scoring affair but one that they were always in control of.
It was not the strongest scoring performance of the season with Brady Oliveira having his number called 10 times in the first quarter alone as the Blue Bombers put their stamp on the game with their rushing.
A sole touchdown for the Lions was a 45 yard Hail Mary as the clock ran down in the first half. But for that, it could have been an even more comfortable scoreline as the Bombers strangled any Lions output.
A 14-4 record was second only to the Argonauts in the regular season. Three of those losses came on the road, officially the road team here, including one to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats whose stadium is in use for the Grey Cup.
The man in charge is Mike O’Shea, a six-time Grey Cup winner. Three of those came as a player, one as a special teams coach when on the same 2012 coaching crew as Jason Maas in Toronto and twice as the Bombers head coach.
No-one threw more touchdown passes in the regular season than Zach Collaros with 33. His 15 picks were second most in the league which will be something that will be firmly in the mind of everyone given the Alouettes four interceptions in the East Final.
Running back Brady Oliveira shouldered a heavy workload through the season, the most carries and yards in the league, almost 400 yards in front of his nearest rival. He was also tied for the league lead in rushing TD’s with nine.
The favourite target of Collaros was Dalton Schoen who led the league with 10 receiving TD’s to go along with 1233 yards, enough for second. Demerio Houston had five picks to lead the Bombers while Willie Jefferson with 11 sacks headed the team in that stat.
It is hard to pick any holes in the Blue Bombers. They are a powerful offensive unit but they are equally strong on the other side of the ball. Sergio Castillo is one of the better kickers in the league so there are few chinks in the armour.
A low scoring game when the teams met early in the season, the Bombers winning in Montreal 17-3. There was only a 10 yard differential in the net offence of the two teams but the Bombers had a stranglehold on the Alouettes any time they entered the Bombers half.
Three fumble recoveries and an interception saw the Bombers defence well on top and that was the difference. Kaion Julien-Grant and Austin Mack had 129 and 110 receiving yards respectively but despite that, Montreal could not find the end zone.
120 rushing yards for Oliveira saw the Bombers in control of the clock with their touchdowns coming on passes to Schoen and Drew Wolitarsky. It was not until the fourth quarter that the Alouettes finally managed to score their sole three points, a 27-yard score with 06:09 on the clock.
The game in Winnipeg was similarly one sided to the one in Montreal but with plenty more scoring for those who enjoy seeing the scoreboard ticking over. The Blue Bombers ended up winning this one 47-17 with a dominant second half performance.
It had taken almost the entire game for the Alouettes to score in the first meeting but their defence came out hot with the first half closing out at 20-17 in the Bombers favour and the game well in the balance. A second half shutout made the score rather lopsided when all was said and done but the Alouettes had to rely on their defensive work to put points on the board.
They managed to pick off Collaros on three occasions, Dequoy with two of those, including taking one back 57 yards to the house and a pick 6. Tyrell Richards also had a pick 6 of his own with the defence putting the points on the board for Montreal.
A lack of a running game cost the Alouettes badly, only able to rush for 42 yards in the entire game from 14 attempts. There was also a lack of discipline, taking 13 penalties which cost 142 yards, something that they will have to avoid on Sunday. Giving free yards to the Bombers will hurt them again.
Brady Oliveira had another massive game, rushing for a yard less than he had in the first meeting with 119. Strong defensive work and excellent clock management with the running game has seen the Bombers in control.
The Alouettes already have one huge shock to their credit this postseason but it is hard to see the Bombers being anything close to as sloppy with the ball as the Argos were last week. In fact, it has been the Bombers defence who have held off the Alouettes offence in both games this season, notching up five scoreless quarters out of the eight.
In the two meetings so far, the Montreal offence has yet to score a touchdown. Two field goals and a pair of pick 6’s have added up to their 20 points put up in their two games with the Blue Bombers.
It was their defence last week against Toronto that proved to be the deciding factor but it is asking an awful lot of them to keep the team in the game with the Bombers having the measure of the Alouettes offence in such a huge way.
The Blue Bombers are the -7.5 favourite (-110) on the spread and are -330 to win the game while the Alouettes can be supported at +270. The price is probably fair for all that there will not be too many bettors who will be wanting to get involved on the Bombers as a single. The spread looks on the light side which could be interesting.
The points over/under stands at 46.5 which is probably a touch on the high side. Both teams will be relying on their defence to hold the other team down so those who are looking to bet the overs will be hoping that the Alouettes will be more competitive than they have been offensively in either of the two meetings this year.
We fully expect the Blue Bombers to win, with the play being to back them on the spread. It would be a surprise if they were not able to stretch the winning margin into double figures and it would be one of the biggest Grey Cup shocks in a while if they were to end up as the losing side.