Grey Cup 2021 Preview: Winnipeg Blue Bombers vs Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Winnipeg Blue Bombers face Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday in the 108th edition of the Grey Cup at Tim Hortons Field, Ontario.
The game is a repeat of the most recent final in 2019, when the Blue Bombers ran out comfortable 33-12 winners to secure their 11th title. Read on as we preview the 2021 Grey Cup.
Blue Bombers aiming to go-back-to-back
The Blue Bombers were in fine form during the regular season, racking up 351 points in 14 games on their way to an 11-3 record.
They found things a little tougher against Saskatchewan Roughriders in the West Division Final, securing a narrow 21-17 win to progress to this weekend’s game.
According to a recent analysis by Betway, the Blue Bombers may need to up their scoring output if they are to see off the Tiger-Cats’ challenge.
The last 25 editions of the CFL championship game have generated 1,312 points – an average of 52.48 points per game.
On that basis, the Blue Bombers will need to up their tally to at least 30 points to defeat the Tiger-Cats.
They have achieved that feat in six of their 15 outings this season, highlighting that they have the firepower to overwhelm their opponents.
However, defeats on the road in their final two regular season games are a cause for concern given the Tiger-Cats have home advantage this weekend.
Tiger-Cats gunning for revenge
The Tigers-Cats will be gunning for revenge on Sunday having failed to live up to expectations in the 2019 Grey Cup clash with the Blue Bombers.
They had posted a CFL-best 15-3 record during the regular season, before blowing away the Edmonton Eskimos in the play-offs.
The Tiger-Cats had no answer to the Blue Bombers in the final, and will be keen to set the record straight this weekend.
Hamilton currently owns the longest drought in the Grey Cup, having failed to lift the title since defeating Calgary Stampeders 32-21 in 1999.
They have reached the final on three occasions since then, losing against Saskatchewan (2013), Calgary (2014) and Winnipeg (2019).
The Tiger-Cats made a sluggish start to the current campaign, posting a disappointing 4-5 record after the first nine games.
Four wins from their final five matches fired them into the play-offs, where they have seen off the Montreal Alouettes and Toronto Argonauts to reach the final.
Recent meetings favour the Blue Bombers
Running back Andrew Harris was the star of the show in the 2019 final, collecting the Grey Cup MVP after rushing for 134 yards and a touchdown in 18 carries.
He also made five catches for 35 yards and a touchdown, and will need to be watched closely after his strong performance against Saskatchewan in the play-offs.
The Blue Bombers also emerged victorious in the latest meeting between the two sides, recording a 19-6 home win on the opening weekend of the season.
The Tiger-Cats struck first taking an early lead courtesy of a Jaelon Acklin touchdown. However, that was the last time they troubled the scorers.
Wide receiver Kenny Lawler weighed in with a couple of touchdowns, while Harris rushed for 126 yards on 22 carries.
Harris subsequently missed a chunk of the season after suffering a knee injury, but highlighted his wellbeing last weekend.
He is expected to be the danger man as Winnipeg attempt to win the Grey Cup for the 12th time in their history on Sunday.
Bumper TV audience expected for the big game
This weekend’s game is expected to attract a massive television audience, dispelling the notion that the only show in town in American Football is the NFL.
An average of 4.48 million people in Canada have tuned in to watch the CFL championship game since 2010, highlighting its popularity.
The highest ever TV audience for a Grey Cup came in 2012, when 13m unique Canadian viewers watched at least some of the game.
The 2021 Grey Cup will be broadcast in Canada on TSN, while fans in the United States can catch the action on ESPN and ESPN+.
Viewers in the United Kingdom and Ireland can tune in to BT Sport to watch the Grey Cup, while other international markets can access the action via live streams.
Sling TV, Hulu, YouTube TV and AT&T TV NOW are amongst the streaming platforms who will offer extensive coverage of the Grey Cup.
While the overall audience trails the NFL’s Super Bowl by some distance, the Grey Cup is undoubtedly hugely popular in its own right.
Arkells to headline the half-time show
One of the reasons why the Super Bowl is such a big event is the half-time show, which seems to have taken on a life of its own over the past few decades.
Some of the biggest names in music have headlined the event, including Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Paul McCartney, Madonna and Lady Gaga.
While the Grey Cup half-time show is smaller in comparison, it has still managed to attract a stellar line-up of artists in recent years.
These include Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Nelly Furtado, Lenny Kravitz, Nickelback, Imagine Dragons, Fall Out Boy, Carly Rae Jepsen and Justin Bieber.
Arkells will be the headliners for the 2021 Grey Cup – the first time a homegrown act has topped their own city’s half-time time show.
JUNO’s reigning Group of the Year have garnered over 200 million streams from six albums, including their latest release Blink Once.
American folk-rock band The Lumineers will provide the main support for Arkells in a show that is sure to keep the crowd fully engaged.
The Blue Bombers are favourites to retain the title, but home advantage could well make the Tiger-Cats the value bet in what is likely to be a close encounter.
The Tiger-Cats’ defence was in excellent form during the play-offs and may be the difference between the two teams this weekend.