The various posted odds around CFL games are always intriguing to examine, and the ones Bodog.ca posted Tuesday for Sunday's Grey Cup are no exception. Bodog has the Saskatchewan Roughriders as 5.5-point favourites and Riders' running back Kory Sheets as a 2/1 favourite for MVP (with Saskatchewan quarterback Darian Durant second at 11/4). That's not all that surprising, but it is useful to know that the Riders are favoured in the sports books as well as much of the popular opinion.
Why does it make sense for Saskatchewan to be favoured? Well, the Riders are playing at home in front of what should be a very friendly crowd, they're coming off a pretty dominant 35-13 West Final win (Hamilton's 36-24 East Final win wasn't quite as one-sided, coming down to the final moments before a score-padding last-second Ticats' touchdown after a botched series of laterals from the Argos) and they put up a 11-7 regular-season record, a step above Hamilton's 10-8. The Roughriders also put up 519 points on the year to the Tiger-Cats' 453, and allowed just 398 to Hamilton's 468. Sheets and Durant have also had outstanding postseasons, so they're logical MVP candidates. In fact, the duo were our choices as Saskatchewan players to watch this Sunday:
It's also notable that Bodog's oddsmakers aren't ruling the Tiger-Cats out, though. 5.5 points isn't a huge gap, and although they do favour Hamilton quarterback Henry Burris to throw at least one interception (he's -250 for over .5), they also have him as the third-favourite for MVP (7/2). Durant is also favoured to throw at least one interception, but less so (he's -100 for over .5). However, the oddsmakers do think that Burris will beat Durant in head-to-head passing yards (Burris is available at -5.5), but that Saskatchewan's going to pile up yardage on the ground (Sheets is available at -55.5 in total rushing yards against Hamilton RB C.J. Gable). That sounds like a reasonably close, not that high-scoring game, and that's why their spread is 5.5 and their score over/under lines for each team are 29.5 (Saskatchewan) and 24 (Hamilton). Hey, that sounds awfully close to the prediction I made Monday...
While the odds are never a pure prediction of what will happen, as oddsmakers tend to also take into account what people are likely to bet on and set the lines to get similar amounts of money on each side, these ones sound pretty reasonable. It's a recipe for a game that would probably work out pretty well for the CFL and broadcasters TSN and RDS, too; a one-score game that goes down to the wire, between teams that just drew tremendous division final audiences? That seems like something that's likely to pull in the crowds, and that's a good bet for success.