Ranking all nine potential 2023 Grey Cup matchups

The CFL regular season has concluded, which means it is time to rank the nine potential Grey Cup matchups.

As I have done for the previous four seasons, I take all the possible matchups, siphon them through my proprietary algorithm, and then spit out what I think is the definitive list of the best possible Grey Cup games for the season.

This year’s rankings were especially difficult as I found almost all of the potential matchups had some level of intrigue, even if it was only morbid curiosity as to how that game would play out.

So without further ado, here are my fifth annual Grey Cup matchup rankings.

9. Calgary vs. Montreal
Last meeting: 2008, Calgary 22-14
Other meeting(s): 1970, 1949
Overall record: Montreal 2-1

This matchup not only lacks the type of juice one would want in a potential Grey Cup but also the storylines leading up to it. What’s the angle? Where’s the bad blood? There’s no real history between these two teams and seeing a horrendous Calgary team try to dink and dunk its way to a win against a very good defence would likely lead to a boring game. When these clubs last met on the big stage, it was Anthony Calvillo vs. Henry Burris. Jake Maier vs. Cody Fajardo doesn’t have the same hype.

8. Winnipeg vs. Hamilton
Last meeting: 2021, Winnipeg 33-25 (OT)
Other meeting(s): 2019, 1984, 1965, 1962, 1961, 1959, 1958, 1957, 1953
Overall record: Winnipeg 7-3

This game would likely be pretty entertaining but after seeing this matchup in 2019 and 2021, a third edition would probably only have allure for those with a rooting interest. The one thing to latch onto for this would be the Ticats looking to exact revenge for the Bombers spoiling the party in Hamilton the last time they met. Outside of that, most people would find this combination pretty boring.

7. Winnipeg vs. Montreal
Last meeting: Never
Other meeting(s): Never
Overall record: N/A

Outside of this being a first-time matchup, there isn’t a lot else this game would have going for it. Winnipeg won both meetings this year handily, first beating the Alouettes 17-3 in Montreal before a 47-17 dismantling at IG Field. A similar bloodbath on the biggest stage isn’t what anyone wants (save for the fan base of the winning team). There’s just not a whole lot to sink your teeth into with this one.

6. Calgary vs. Toronto
Last meeting: 2017, Toronto 27-24
Other meeting(s): 2012, 1991, 1971
Overall record: Toronto, 3-1

Six years ago, these two battled in an epic encounter in the snow in Ottawa but a lot has changed since then. The Argos would enter as the prohibitive favourites this time around, while the Stamps would be the plucky underdog. These teams have a lot of connections, including Ryan Dinwiddie, Corey Mace, DaVaris Daniels, Royce Metchie, Forlarin Orimolade, and Wynton McManis who now call Toronto home. The problem is that the game probably wouldn’t live up to the hype those stories would create leaving a bland taste in everyone’s mouths when it was over.

5. B.C. vs. Montreal
Last meeting: 2006, B.C. 25-14
Other meeting(s): 2000
Overall record: B.C. 2-0

Vernon Adams Jr. against the team that cast him aside? That would be pretty intriguing. Both of these teams are wildcards, though Montreal hasn’t shown much against the league’s elite teams, which means this could end up being a massacre. However, the angle of the former franchise pivot going up against his old team is a storyline for which championship matchups are made.

4. B.C. vs. Toronto
Last meeting: 2004, Toronto 27-19
Other meeting(s): 1983
Overall record: Toronto 2-0

These two teams only played once this year and it was a bludgeoning as Toronto won 45-24. I don’t know if B.C. has improved enough to make a second go-around all that much more competitive. If the Lions bring their A-game, perhaps this ends up being a matchup that exceeds their spot in these rankings but if the Leos bring their F-game, this one would be over by halftime. It’s still a top-half matchup because the potential is there for a classic but there is too much variation to put it any higher.

3. Calgary vs. Hamilton
Last meeting: 2014, Calgary 20-14
Other meeting(s): 1999, 1998
Overall record: Calgary 2-1

Bo Levi Mitchell didn’t get a chance to play against his former team during the regular season, which is enough to make this potential matchup exciting. When you add the fact that this combination would include both division’s three-seeds, this game would be all the more titillating.

On paper, the idea of a six-win team playing an eight-win team for a championship is ludicrous but the chaos that would have to ensue to get us here would be worth it. Is this matchup likely? No, not in the least. In fact, it’s probably the least likely to occur on this whole list. But if this were to happen, Tim Hortons Field would be electric.

2. Winnipeg vs. Toronto
Last meeting: 2022, Toronto 24-23
Other meeting(s): 1950, 1946, 1945, 1938, 1937
Overall record: Toronto 6-0

This is the rare rematch that finds itself high on the list. While I would personally hate this matchup, I can’t deny how good the storylines would be: the Bombers looking for revenge for a dynasty denied a year ago; the Argos looking to solidify themselves as the undisputed kings of the mountain; the two-time M.O.P. going up against his likely successor; Mike O’Shea going against his former team and Ryan Dinwiddie doing the same against his; Andrew Harris’ having a chance to win his fourth title in a row against his old squad.

These two teams only played once in the regular season due to poor scheduling on the league’s part, so a makeup on the grandest stage feels like where we’re headed. The West’s best versus the East’s beast. It would be a classic.

1. B.C. vs. Hamilton
Last meeting: 1985, B.C. 37-24
Other meeting(s): 1964, 1963
Overall record: B.C. 2-1

Stamps-Ticats and Argos-Bombers have more sizzle but this matchup has the chance to be the best game. Both teams won on the other’s field this year. The Ticats dropped 30 against the Lions in both games, which means if B.C.’s offence is cooking, this could be one of the highest-scoring games in Grey Cup history.

What if Dane Evans got a chance to get into the game, like he did a few weeks ago when these two teams me? Him plunging the dagger into the hearts of the team that discarded him would make for an instant classic.

This is also a matchup we haven’t seen on the CFL’s biggest stage in nearly 40 years and that makes it exciting. Add it all up and if we get this, we might be talking about an all-time classic that goes down as one of the greatest Grey Cup games in the league’s illustrious history. Sign! Me! Up!

Josh Smith has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.