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Canadian Football League: The Hamilton Tiger-Cats struggled a season ago, but they are getting much more attention than a normal team coming off a 6-12 season. That’s because the team signe former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL first-round pick Johnny Manziel this offseason.
Manziel has a lot of talent but substance abuse issues knocked him from the NFL early on. He is trying to resurrect his career in Canada with the Tiger-Cats. He has been solid in the preseason but is going to enter the year as the No. 2 quarterback with Hamilton behind Jeremiah Masoli. Manziel is the quarterback with more natural ability but he has been hard to depend on over the last few years so it will be interesting to see what his work ethic is like in his first year in the CFL.
Masoli threw for 3,177 yards a year ago with 15 touchdowns and five interceptions. He is a dual threat who also added 446 rushing yards and four touchdowns. The team had three different receivers who accumulated more than 1,000 yards, led by Jalen Saunders.
The Tiger-Cats’ offense wasn’t too bad a year ago but it was the team’s defense that was the real letdown. That unit will need to improve no matter what happens at the quarterback position if the team plans on being more competitive in 2018.
The Tiger-Cats’ Most Outstanding Player a season ago was linebacker Larry Dean. He had 99 total tackles, three sacks and three forced fumbles in 2017. Guard Ryan Bomben was named the team’s Most Outstanding Canadian while defensive back Richard Leonard was the team’s Most Outstanding Rookie.
Hamilton is hoping an infusion of talent in the draft will also give the team a boost. The Tiger-Cats traded up to grab the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and selected wide receiver Mark Chapman out of Western Michigan. Between Chapman and possibly Manziel, this team could look much differently in 2018.
June Jones was the team’s interim coach a year ago and is now taking over full-time. He has a lot of experience, including some in the NFL, and hopes to lead the team to marked improvement.
CFL Odds To Win the Grey Cup at BetCRIS
Calgary Stampeders 2/1
Edmonton Eskimos 6/1
Winnipeg Blue Bombers 13/2
Toronto Argonauts 13/2
Hamilton Tiger-Cats 7/1
Saskatchewan Roughriders 15/2
BC Lions 10/1
Ottawa Redblacks 12/1
Montreal Alouettes 18/1
The Tiger-Cats aren’t the top contender for the Grey Cup, but they are right in the mix among the second tier of teams. Some of that could be the Manziel factor, as the oddsmakers realize he is a very famous player who will undoubtedly get people to back Hamilton.
The Tiger-Cats aren’t a great bet to win based on the fact that the team struggled a year ago and Manziel is not even in line to start at this point. Hamilton could improve this season but the odds look to high to seriously choose them to capture the Grey Cup.
This team has some holes on the roster and Manziel would have to really come in and set the world on fire right away for the team to capture the title. If it happens, it would be an incredible turn of events and could get Manziel another shot at the NFL.
Grey Cup Titles
Eight -- The Tiger-Cats are among the most successful teams in the CFL when it comes to Grey Cups. They have made it to the championship game 20 times and claimed those eight titles. It has been a little while since the team picked up a championship, defeating the Calgary Stampeders in 1999 for its most recent hardware.
Hamilton made it to the title game in 2013 and again in 2014 but fell short each time. Despite last year’s struggles, the addition of Manziel has made the Tiger-Cats an extremely intriguing team to watch. He hopes to crack the lineup and help lead the team to victories in CFL gambling.
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