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The Gray Cup is again
After being erased by the pandemic last yr, Canada’s model of the Tremendous Bowl returns from hiatus this weekend. listed here are some things to know about the 108th Grey Cup recreation, which kicks off Sunday at 6 p.m. ET in Hamilton:
It Is A rematch. however the tables have turned
It feels like 1,000,000 years in the past, but in 2019 the Winnipeg Blue Bombers snapped their 29-year championship drought by means of beating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 33-12 in Calgary. Two years, a global well being situation and a complete lost CFL season later, the similar groups are back playing for the name.
But things are different. Again in 2019, Hamilton was the 15-3 common season juggernaut that had scored probably the most points in the league and given up the fewest. The Tiger-Cats have been 4-aspect favourites towards a Winnipeg workforce that went 11-7 and needed to win back-to-back road playoff games to get to the gray Cup. Now, the protecting champion Bombers are the toast of the CFL after going a league-very best ELEVEN-THREE within the shortened regular season even as scoring more and surrendering not up to anyone else. They’re favoured through, you guessed it, four over a Ti-cats workforce that went a pedestrian 8-6 prior to defeating Montreal at home and upsetting Toronto on the road within the playoffs.
Our head says Winnipeg
It Is A testament to the Bombers’ quality that they may turn the ball over a nightmarish six occasions within the West Division final vs. Saskatchewan and still pop out with a 21-17 win. Even accounting for this rare lapse, Winnipeg is averaging 25 issues according to recreation this year and giving up simply 14.
Winnipeg’s defence is horrifying. In terms of issues per recreation allowed in the regular season, the 2021 Bombers are the CFL’s stingiest group in a half century. Anchoring the D is linebacker Adam Bighill, who’s up for his third Most Eminent Protective Player award. Up entrance, move rushers Jackson Jeffcoat and Willie Jefferson blended for SIXTEEN sacks in the common season and another two in the West ultimate, where they each compelled a fumble. Rookie protecting back DeAundre Alford tied for 2d within the league with 4 interceptions. Excellent luck finding a weak point to assault.
Regardless Of its struggles on Sunday, the Winnipeg offence is scary too. Zach Collaros threw an uncharacteristic 3 interceptions vs. the Riders — part his overall from the entire regular season — however was the CFL’s most efficient passer this 12 months and led the league in landing throws. He Is expected to win Most Outstanding Participant while the CFL awards are announced Friday. Collaros has a great connection with Kenny Lawler, the one participant to most sensible 1,000 receiving yards this season — despite the fact that Lawler was held to only three catches for 49 yards through Saskatchewan. Winnipeg can also shred you on the flooring with famous person Canadian operating back Andrew Harris — a 3-time CFL rushing chief and the reigning Grey Cup MVP. He back from a knee damage final week to run for 136 yards and a TD.
But our heart says Hamilton
The underdog is often no less than somewhat adorable, and the Tiger-Cats bring some extra narrative cuddliness to the table. Whilst Hamilton misplaced the gray Cup recreation to Winnipeg in 2019, it inherited the humbling identify of longest-suffering CFL the city. it isn’t fairly as unhealthy because the Bombers’ used to be, however the Ti-cats’ championship drought has reached a deeply unsightly 22 years.
The remaining time Hamilton won the gray Cup, the world’s largest fear was Y2K. The MVP of that recreation, quarterback Danny McManus, is now 56 years antique. Essentially The Most Useful Canadian, receiver Mike Morreale, could also be a quinquagenarian who now runs a professional basketball league. So, yeah, it has been a while. and how center-warming would it not be to see the Ti-cats in the end seize the gray Cup of their own stadium, in front of their own fans?
If that happens, Hamilton will most likely have its defence to thank. Anchored by way of playmaking linebacker Simoni Lawrence (the East nominee for Most Eminent Protective Player) and a strong set of linemen, the Ti-cats’ D compelled five turnovers within the playoff win over Montreal. It also held CFL rushing champion William Stanback to just 29 yards on 12 incorporates after allowing a league-low 4.2 yards per tote within the regular season. Those men may well be a tricky nut for Harris to crack on Sunday.
A backup quarterback may well be the X-factor
A key question is, can the Hamilton offence do enough by contrast menacing Winnipeg D? It Is A middle-of-the-highway unit (5th out of 9 groups this season in yards won in step with play) with no actual famous person and with considerable uncertainty on the sport’s most vital position. Twenty-8-yr-vintage backup quarterback Dane Evans will make simply his fourth get started of the 12 months on Sunday after coming off the bench to interchange a suffering Jeremiah Masoli in the East ultimate.
Evans was nice, completing all 16 of his passes for 249 yards and a touchdown, and speeding for a couple of TDs to guide the Ticats to a 27-19 comeback win over the rival Argonauts. He also received the dignity of his teammates by way of stripping the ball from an Argo protective player who’d recovered a fumble, fighting a possible landing (now not something you usually see from a quarterback). But now Evans is dealing with a crew that gave up ONE HUNDRED THIRTY points fewer than Toronto did this season. And he did not precisely shine in this very same spot years ago. Evans was once Hamilton’s QB in the 2019 Gray Cup loss to the Bombers, who picked him off two times and held him to 16-of-27 passing for 203 yards.