Oh, you can be sure they’ve all seen it. The B.C. Lions have all definitely seen it.
‘It’ elicited a wry grin from Vernon Adams Jr., confusion from Sukh Chung and befuddlement from Bo Lokombo, while Dom Rhymes took it in stride.
The CFL ran their playoff simulation through whatever steam-or-hamster-wheel-powered computational device they have, and came up with these numbers:
- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ odds to win the Grey Cup: 66.2 per cent.
- The Lions’ odds to win the Cup: 3.4 per cent.
- The Bombers’ odds of winning the West final: 90.1 per cent.
- The Lions’ odds of winning the West final: 8.9 per cent.
“Who even comes up with that number?” said Lokombo. “… I don’t really read too much into it. It’s kind of wild … to say the least.”
“It’s no more (added) motivation because we don’t play for people’s predictions. We play real football,” said Rhymes.
Adams, who’s basked in his share of disrespect this year — he was the league’s passing leader and didn’t even rate an all-star nod — was nonplussed.
West Division final
B.C. Lions vs. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. PT, IG Field
TV: TSN. Radio: AM730
“Oh, I’ve seen it. It’s cool,” he said. “It’s always disrespect towards the Lions … Winnipeg deserved all the credit they’ve been getting. We just have come to work, handle our business and do we need to do.
“It’s nothing new to me. I’ve been an underdog my whole life.”
The 13-6 Lions were 2-1 against Winnipeg (14-4) this year, with both sides enjoying blowout wins before the Bombers came out on top in an overtime rubber-match thriller. Even in that game, the Lions had a chance to win in regulation, but for a split-second decision by Rhymes.
The simulation weighted the teams’ records and opponents-faced, margins of victory and recent results, among other factors, to come to this conclusion.
The 16-2 defending Grey Cup-champion Toronto Argonauts aren’t happy with their meagre odds either (21.4 per cent to win the title), their math likely skewed heavily by a Week 17 loss to Winnipeg. Remember that game where they sat several key starters, and offensive catalyst A.J. Ouellette had but a single carry as they had already clinched the East with six games to play?
And did the simulation take into account Adams’ massive playoff performance against Calgary (413 yards passing, five total touchdowns) in the West semifinal? Or the fact that the CFL’s leading touchdown machine — Winnipeg receiver Dalton Schoen — has been hobbling around in a walking boot and is questionable for Saturday’s game?
Question for the CFL head office: Have you tried unplugging the computer and plugging it back in? Or at least feeding the hamster inside of it? Was it programmed by an NFT bro who’s still insisting that Bored Apes are a great financial investment?
Even non-B.C. fans commenting on their post aren’t sure it makes sense.
“I just have my gut and it tells me that something in the system is weighted far too heavily,” wrote IllinoisGuy. “I think they need to hit the side of the computer machine or something.”
Questionable result aside it’s a head-scratching way to promote a game between two of the best teams in the league, who just recently produced a thrilling game the last time they met, not to mention the East final, where the Montreal Alouettes won’t be thrilled about their scores either.
“There’s nothing wrong with being an underdog,” said Lions coach Rick Campbell. “But I hope our guys are intrinsically motivated. You’re talking to a coach here too. If it gives somebody fuel, then good for them, but we keep talking about: it’s about us. It’s about us, and playing good football. We’ve come a long way from Kamloops and training camp with the opportunity to play one game to go to the Grey Cup, so we just want to make the most of the opportunity and go from there.”
Lokombo says the oddsmakers’ labels won’t matter. And until they dethrone the winners of three straight West titles, that respect won’t come. The Bombers, it should be noted, won the first of their two straight Cups (2019 and 2021) after finishing third in the West.
“For a game like this it doesn’t matter,” said the Lions’ linebacker. “I can understand why we’re (underdogs). We’re playing in Winnipeg; it’s cold, it’s a tough place to win, they’ve been the top dog — but none of that matters.
“You’ve got to earn that respect (of being favourites). Props to them to everything they’re doing. We do respect them. But we have to prove that we are in that category, and I feel like we are. We’re a very good team, we’ve had a good year and we’re just ready for battle, man. We’re ready for them.”
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