Ranking the possible Grey Cup matchups

Never has a crossover team made it to the Grey Cup through the East Division, but maybe this will be the year.

With the fourth-place Saskatchewan Roughriders (10-8) holding a better record than ALL the teams in the East, the most intriguing matchups for this year’s big game in Ottawa come with the Roughriders and their passionate fans involved.

Sorry Ottawa. As much as you would love to root on your hometown team in the Grey Cup, the Redblacks have the worst record of all the playoff teams. The fans might like it, but for us neutral observers who want great storylines and the best possible entertainment for the game, the Riders are the ones who win out as ‘East Division champs.’

Coming from a West Division based writer, here are the rankings of the possible Grey Cup matchups and what I would like to see most.

9. Toronto vs. Calgary

Last meeting: 2012, Argonauts won 35-22

It’s not normal for a battle of first-place teams to carry so little lustre. The Stamps have limped into the post-season and very little is exciting about the Argonauts overall. That being said, Ricky Ray being back in the big game against the next generation of ‘winning quarterback’ Bo Levi Mitchell does carry some interest. These two teams met for a dull Grey Cup a few years ago and it could be the same thing this time.

8. Toronto vs. Winnipeg

Last meeting: 1950, Argonauts won 13-0

Again, the Argos aren’t flashy or exciting, but at least the Blue Bombers play fire-brand football for the most part. If Matt Nichols is healthy enough to be himself, this could be one of those classic shootouts, but in terms of storylines leading into the game, this will be lacking much intrigue.

7. Ottawa vs. Winnipeg

Last meeting: 1941, Blue Bombers won 18-16

This would be a matchup of the shortest Grey Cup drought against the longest one. The fact the Bombers haven’t won a Grey Cup since 1990 is quite sad considering this is a eight- or nine-team league during that period. The Redblacks won one in their third year of existence so it’s taken some major stumbles for the Bombers not to put things together for at least one season. They would be heavily favoured in this one if Bombers QB Matt Nichols stays healthy.

6. Ottawa vs. Edmonton

Last meeting: 2015, Eskimos won 26-20

Not much stands out about the meeting two seasons ago other than the drama that happened after the game was finished. That’s when head coach Chris Jones left Edmonton for Saskatchewan and the Eskimos ‘stole’ Jason Maas from Ottawa to be their head coach. On the field, this feels like a mismatch as the Eskimos enter the playoffs as the hottest team in the league.

5. Ottawa vs. Calgary

Last meeting: 2016, Redblacks won 39-33 (OT)

Sure, last year’s game was special. A memorable game with all the intrigue you want from a championship. But the sizzle is gone as Henry Burris retired and the Redblacks changed plenty of personnel. The Stamps would like their revenge of course, and the two games they played at the start of the season were nice and close, but it feels like the Stamps would once again be heavy favourites.

4. Toronto vs. Edmonton 

Last meeting: 1996, Argonauts won 43-37 

It’s been so long now that it’s hard to picture Ricky Ray back in the green and gold, but he did get shipped out of Edmonton after putting together a Hall-of-Fame resume. Both teams have won Grey Cups in the past five years but it’s taken Marc Trestman to turn the Argos around after a dismal 2016. Ray and former teammate but now Eskimos head coach Jason Maas are good friends so this would be a good mind game when it gets down to game time.

3. Saskatchewan vs. Calgary

Last meeting: Never

The Saskatchewan Roughriders, East Division Champions has such a weird sound when you say it out loud the sheer novelty makes the possibility of them representing that division the top three matchups. The Stamps and Riders have a bitter rivalry that has gone a bit dormant the past few years with Saskatchewan struggles. They last met in the playoffs when the Riders knocked off the Stamps in the 2013 West final. Expect a war of words if this is to happen.

2. Saskatchewan vs. Winnipeg

Last meeting: 2007, Roughriders won 23-19

Banjo Bowl, Grey Cup style. When these two teams last met in the Grey Cup, they were representing the opposite divisions so this would be of course an odd one. Every time these teams meet it’s interesting, but that’s because they have the Labour Day rivalry and of course the rematch that is the Banjo Bowl. This would be fun to see even if we’ve had it a decade ago.

1. Saskatchewan vs. Edmonton

Last meeting: Never

Riderville vs the Spirit of Edmonton. This would be a matchup of the two biggest parties that are usually found at the Grey Cup Festival as these are arguably the two most passionate fanbases in the CFL. It feels like their collective heads would explode in this matchup, although these teams finished the regular season with a lacklustre meeting at Mosaic Stadium that sent the Roughriders through the East Division. Two western-based teams meeting in an eastern city is probably a nightmare for the CFL front office, but anything to do with the Roughriders usually creates a high level of interest. Add to that the fact Chris Jones ditched the Eskimos two years ago after winning the Grey Cup there and this one has the sizzle every championship game needs.

Ian Busby

Ian Busby

Ian Busby has covered the Stampeders and the CFL since 2003, with eight years as a beat reporter. He is now a producer at Breakfast Television.
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Ian Busby
About Ian Busby (172 Articles)
Ian Busby has covered the Stampeders and the CFL since 2003, with eight years as a beat reporter. He is now a producer at Breakfast Television.

23 Comments on Ranking the possible Grey Cup matchups

  1. I like the number 1 scenario. Riders win 32-28

  2. Good story line …

  3. Neutral observers have decreed Ottawa is out of the GC based on having the worst record, eh?

    Interesting considering the Ottawa – Riders games were both decided by one point. Then there’s seven losses by four or less points.

    Somehow I think Ottawa is far more competitive than their record would indicate but hey … it can’t hurt Ottawa to have the Riders thinking the same thing.

  4. Bill deHoog // November 10, 2017 at 9:52 am //

    Mr Busby is a good writer, nut this is clearly western bias. Sask will not get past this weekend as I expect Ottawa to win in a close one. Be prepared for a typical East/West matchup. Both eastern teams have played well in second half of the season, so expect a close GC game

  5. ” As much as you would love to root on your hometown team in the Grey Cup…”

    Hmm…I think I’ll show up on Sunday anyway, just in case Ottawa somehow squeaks out a win. Because while Edmonton is the “hottest team in the league” right now, Ottawa has won 7 out of the last 10 and a couple of their losses were with their 3rd QB at the helm. Hopefully they don’t embarrass themselves and at least LOOK like they belong.

  6. The rematch from last year ought to be higher. And of the Western rivalries Saskatchewan might add to, I’d not have chosen Edmonton as the most compelling.

    • Likewise. Too many unlikeable people on both sides that I don’t want to see either team victorious.

      Even if I chose to cheer against the multitude of former Ottawa players that Edmonton signed, I’d struggle to because I wanted most of those guys gone anyway.

      Sask/Calgary has a bit of an edge to it so if it’s going to be all-West, that one might be most entertaining.

  7. Let’s go with Stamps/riders. That would be the game with the most hate to it

  8. Edm., Sask

  9. Yeah Ottawa gets no love but, as you say CC, they were 7-3 down the stretch & are used to playing in close games. Riders peaked in games 7-9 when they destroyed 3 West rivals but 5-4 since. They’re last vs the rush & Powell has been really good during the home stretch. For me the key is T/O’s. Sask +12, Ott -12. Harris has to avoid giving yhe ball away or they lose. In a big game home field helps. Sask will be favoured but I see Ottawa in a close one. Should be a hell of a game.

    • Anthony Kaduck // November 10, 2017 at 9:52 pm //

      Yes, Ottawa is used to playing in close games. The problem is that they lost most of those close games, so it may not be much of an advantage… 😉

  10. greenonions // November 10, 2017 at 12:29 pm //

    Als/Stamps. On the runway, Rider plane is halted & players immediately drafted into service due to violent snowstorm threatening remaining crops in the province. Als, still packing their bags, are nearest to Ottawa & make the trip by bus to play in the game. They start a magical run through the brilliant coaching of Reed & meet Stamps in the G/C where BLM has a shot at redemption. The game goes to OT, Stamps score but miss convert. Two sacks later on their own 48 yard line, Reed calls for a QB sneak. Stamps are all backed up in the end zone in prevent defence & Durant follows his 11 blockers down the field & scores, a 2nd QB sneak secures the victory. While Durant is doing his post game interview it is leaked that the Riders have signed him to a 3 year deal.

    • True Green // November 11, 2017 at 9:09 pm //

      Best story line, I love the Cinderella ending for DD!
      I’ll get a lot of hate for this comment: I’d live to see Durant resigned with the Riders as Bridges backup. Finish his career were he could have and should have stayed for less money.

  11. Riders vs anyone from the west. Riders win in a landslide.

  12. Winnipeg is the only team in the CFL to have played every team in the grey cup, that itself is interesting.

    • I’m not find a reference to them playing Montreal. Could it be they’ve never met up against them?

  13. I think it will be Toronto vs Calgary…simply because the two best quarterbacks will step up and carry their teams to the cup

    • ray is not the 2nd best qb in the league he just plays most his games in a weaker conference, put any other qb there and they would have better stats than old geezer Ray

  14. True Green // November 11, 2017 at 9:14 pm //

    # 1 Riders vs Stampeders. Biggest hate on in the league.
    # 2 tie between Riders vs Eskimos and Stampeders vs Eskimos. All Alberta is probably a bigger rivalry but more Esks and Riders fans overall. That would fill Ottawa’s stadium 2 times over!
    ….
    # 9 Argos vs REDBLACKS: simply put TSN will bump the game for soccer or tennis.

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