CFL Betting Odds: East Division Preview

The Argos hope the addition of QB Ricky Ray will help them reach the Grey Cup.

The CFL season is just around the corner and we can only hope that this season is as exciting as the last.

The East Division is aiming to bring the Grey Cup back to the division after British Columbia beat Winnipeg in Vancouver last year. For the 100th Grey Cup, which is being held in Toronto this year, the odds reflect that a number of East teams will have a legitimate shot to win it.

Toronto actually made the biggest splash in the offseason and they might be able to do what B.C. did last season: play in a Grey Cup they’re hosting. They’ll have to get past Hamilton, Winnipeg and Montreal in what figures to be a closely-contested East Division race.

Here is a look at the Argonauts’ prospects in 2012, along with the rest of the East:

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Hamilton Tiger-Cats
CFL Futures: +450 to win Grey Cup

George Cortez takes over as head coach for the Ti-Cats, who lost in last year’s division final, and they also have a new quarterback as Henry Burris looks to prove he still has something left in the tank. Cortez and Burris have been on the same page before, which should give the veteran pivot a little leeway. The offense should be in good shape with Burris, receiver Terence Jeffers-Harris and running Avon Cobourne.

The defense needs to be reworked as there are a few spots open but the Ti-Cats are still favored to win the East. If they can do it on their Toronto rivals’ home field, that would make it that much sweeter.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers
CFL Futures: +600 to win Grey Cup

The Blue Bombers finished first in the East last year but not many expected them to get all the way to the Grey Cup finals where they gave the Lions a tough time. Buck Pierce is back in the saddle for the Blue Bombers, who are actually deeper at quarterback than most teams and this could become a valuable asset since Pierce has been known to get hurt quite often. Both the offensive and defensive lines have been hit by injuries and in the CFL, if you can’t protect the quarterback (especially one that is prone to injuries), you could be in for a long season.

On the defensive side of the ball, many experts are wondering if or when Henoc Muamba will get a look at linebacker where there are a couple of spots open and The Blue Bombers drafted him first overall and he might be called upon for early contributions. Will they take their time with Muamba? Only time will tell.

Montreal Alouettes
CFL Futures: +550 to win Grey Cup

The Alouettes didn’t make it to the Grey Cup for the first time in four years and you know what that means: overreaction. But at least Marc Trestman is back as head coach after attracting attention south of the border in the NFL and with Trestman and Anthony Calvillo back under center, Montreal is always a threat to win the Grey Cup. These may actually be the best odds we’ve seen in a while for the Alouettes, who are usually favored.

However, the defense finally broke down last year and the offense can’t win every game by themselves. One major area of concern is the pass rush and if they can’t rush the passer in the CFL, they’re going to be in a world of trouble.

Toronto Argonauts
CFL Futures: +600 to win Grey Cup

The Argonauts filled a big need by bringing in quarterback Ricky Ray, who spent nine years in Edmonton as the face of the franchise. They appear serious about making a run at Grey Cup, which will be played at their Rogers Center.

Ray is a massive improvement over past quarterbacks (although that’s not saying much) but Ray has to know that he is under the microscope in the league’s biggest market. It’ll be unlike anything he has seen in Edmonton, who love the Eskimos, but Toronto is a different ball game altogether.

Ray will need some help though, and the Argos may not be able to give it to him as the receivers and offense line have undergone a lot of changes. The secondary is also shaky at best and they have to be able to stop the pass. There are lots of good reasons to bet or bet against the Argos winning the Cup in 2012. It’s just a matter of whether you believe Ray can carry them or not.

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