The 2022 CFL season and the 109th Grey Cup are in the books. November saw a titan clash between Toronto Argonauts and the two-time defending champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers. In a game that came down to the wire, Canadian football fans were treated to one of the greatest finals the league has ever seen.
Toronto pulled off a massive upset, coming away with a nailing biting 24-23 win. While Winnipeg couldn’t make history this year, could they come back to retake their crown next season?
2023 CFL Champions
Winnipeg was staring a dynasty in the face. With only 4:30 left on the clock, they were up 23-17 and 3 in a row seemed like a formality. That was until A. J. Ouellette was on the 5-yard line and burst through the Winnipeg defense for the game-tying touchdown. Boris Bede made the 32-yard conversion, and the rest was history.
The Blue Bombers may have had a crushing defeat, but it doesn’t mean it’s the end of their dynasty. Sportsbooks have them as the favorite to regain their title next year. On Bodog, where you can enjoy best CFL odds, they have Winnipeg as a +200 favorite, closely followed by British Columbia Lions at +333 and the defending champions Toronto Argonauts at +500.
What the Blue Bombers need to do to give themselves the best chance of succeeding need year is bringing back their championship-level roster. They have several players who can become free agents, including stars like defensive end Willie Jefferson, middle linebacker Adam Bighill, offensive linemen Stanley Bryant, Jermarcus Hardrick, and Pat Neufeld, and receiver Nic Demski. Losing a massive chunk of their team could have a devastating impact, but bringing back that core and two-time MVP Zach Collaros would see them back at the top of the mountain.
League Most Outstanding Player
The League’s Most Outstanding Player is the most prized individual award in the CFL. Given to the player who had the most exceptional season, both him and his team, and is decided by the Football Reporters of Canada. The award’s winner is chosen from the players who picked up the Terry Evanshen Trophy and the Jeff Nicklin Memorial Trophy, awards given to the best players from the East and West Divisions.
Zach Collaros picked up the second of his MOP trophies last season and was a back-to-back winner. He is up against it to win the award for three years in a row, as the previous player to do so was Doug Flutie when he won four between 1991-1994. If Winnipeg comes back next year for vengeance and steamrolls the rest of the league on their way to the best record, it could be possible for Collaros.
Whoever picks up the award is most likely to be a QB. In the past 20 years, only six winners haven’t played the quarterback position. With that said, if the BC Lions pip Winnipeg to the West Division and Nathan Rourke plays a starring role, we could see him hoisting the trophy. Rourke picked up the award for Most Outstanding Canadian last year, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him go one better and pick up the MOP next season.
West and East Division Winners
Predicting what team will win each division is a tougher task. As mentioned above, the West should be a nail-biter between Winnipeg and BC, with whoever comes out on top likely to go ahead and win it all. Seeing as Winnipeg is tipped to come away from next season as champions, it would be reasonable to think they will also top the West Division.
The East has the defending champions, Toronto, in the mix, along with Montreal and Hamilton. Let’s not disrespect the champs anymore, it would be safe to assume that they finish the next regular season where they finished this one, and that’s on top of the East Division.
The 2022 CFL season was one to remember. With so many twists and turns right down to the final game, you would be foolish to miss out on tuning in next year. Predicting what will happen in sports is nearly impossible, but looking forward to what you can expect from these teams is fun.
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