- The 2021 Canadian Football League (CFL) season begins on Thursday, August 5.
- The 2020 CFL season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were the 2019 CFL Grey Cup champions.
As Canada starts to get a handle on the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccination rollout there is considerable hope that everyday life will soon return to being more or less normal. This will thankfully include the return of the Canadian Football League (CFL) which will be back in action after a one season hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In actuality, it has been just over 18 months since the CFL last took the field–on November 24, 2019 the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers met in the 107th Grey Cup championship game at McMahon Stadium in Calgary. Winnipeg emerged victorious and since there was no 2020 season the Blue Bombers will head into 2021 as the defending Grey Cup champions.
Canadian Football is back but as noted above the 2021 season will be ‘more or less’ normal. Typically, the CFL regular season begins in mid-June and runs through late November. This year, however, it will start approximately six weeks later and run through mid December. The length of the regular season has been cut from 18 to 14 games and although the league scheduled for an eight team playoff format the CFL postseason will stick to tradition with only six teams involved. When the 2021 CFL season kicks off on August 5 it’ll have been 620 days since the league played a game. Fortunately, all nine CFL franchises are back though the Edmonton team has changed its name from ‘Eskimos’ to ‘Elks’ following a backlash from sponsors.
CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie announced the league’s return on June 14, 2021:
“To say this is a happy day for the CFL is monumental understatement. We’ve all been waiting for this for a long time. It was a thrill to make the announcement that we’ll kick off our season on August the 5th and we’ll be in Hamilton for what I think will be one of the greatest Grey Cups of all-time. A truly national celebration, not just of our great game, not just of our great teams, not just of our great players and coaches, but of what everything our league has meant, what our teams have meant to their communities and what our game has meant to Canada.”
Due to Canada’s success in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccination program after a slow start the league will also welcome a ‘significant’ number of fans back to their stadiums. Unlike many professional sports leagues, the CFL’s primary source of revenue is ticket sales and not TV deals. The exact capacity percentage that will be allowed at CFL stadiums varies by province. When Winnipeg hosts Hamilton to open the season on August 5 they’ll have a capacity crowd of 33,500 at IG Field. The BC Lions will have a 50% capacity at BC Place in Vancouver. The three Ontario teams–the Ottawa REDBLACKS (yep, they stylize the nickname with all caps), Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts–will be allowed 15,000 fans or 75% of capacity whichever is less. That attendance guideline comes with a caveat–once vaccinations reach a certain level in Ontario most restrictions will be lifted and with them limits on stadium capacity.
Look for more on the CFL between now and the kickoff of the 2021 season. We’ll preview the teams, run down the differences between the CFL and NFL games and outline some handicapping strategies for Canadian Football. BetOnline.ag has posted Grey Cup futures odds and well as team win totals for the CFL:
CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE (CFL) 2021 GREY CUP FUTURES
Hamilton Tiger-Cats +300 Winnipeg Blue Bombers +375 Calgary Stampeders +550 Saskatchewan Roughriders +550 Toronto Argonauts +850 Edmonton Elks +900 BC Lions +1000 Montreal Alouettes +1000 Ottawa REDBLACKS +1800
CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE (CFL) 2021 REGULAR SEASON WIN TOTALS
BC LIONS REGULAR SEASON WINS
Over 5.5 Wins +100 Under 5.5 Wins -130
CALGARY STAMPEDERS REGULAR SEASON WINS
Over 7.5 Wins -115 Under 7.5 Wins -115
EDMONTON ELKS REGULAR SEASON WINS
Over 6 Wins -125 Under 6 Wins -105
HAMILTON TIGER-CATS REGULAR SEASON WINS
Over 9.5 Wins -115 Under 9.5 Wins -115
MONTREAL ALOUETTES REGULAR SEASON WINS
Over 6.5 Wins -115 Under 6.5 Wins -115
OTTAWA REDBLACKS REGULAR SEASON WINS
Over 4 Wins +100 Under 4 Wins -130
SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS REGULAR SEASON WINS
Over 8 Wins -130 Under 8 Wins +100
TORONTO ARGONAUTS REGULAR SEASON WINS
Over 6.5 Wins -115 Under 6.5 Wins -115
WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS REGULAR SEASON WINS
Over 8.5 Wins +100 Under 8.5 Wins -130