Johnny Football Props: Is “Montreal” Manziel Worthy of Your Action?

Johnny Football Props: Is “Montreal” Manziel Worthy of Your Action? article feature image
  • Johnny Manziel was traded from Hamilton to Montreal and could make his CFL debut on Thursday night.

In 2012, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny “Football” Manziel knocked off No. 1 Alabama, earned his place as a consensus All-American, and became the first freshman to ever win the Heisman Trophy.

In 2014, Manziel decided to forgo his junior season at College Station to go pro; he was selected 22nd overall in the NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns.

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In 2018, having not played a snap of pro football in more than two years, Manziel signed a two-year deal with the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats. And over the weekend, still without having played a lick of actual football, Manziel was dealt to the lowly Montreal Alouettes in a five-player deal.

That’s quite the career arc for a guy who is still just 25. While there should still be large, flashing question marks on Johnny Football’s ability to contribute at the highest level (or any level above “rec-league flag football” honestly), early indications from Montreal point to Manziel getting a shot with the 1-4 Alouettes.

Since you and I, the casual betting public, do not know a whooooole lot about the Canadian Football League, let’s do a little digging before we fork over our cash.

Over/Under 5.5 Alouettes Wins

  • Over: -120
  • Under: -120

The first thing to know here is that the Alouettes are currently 1-4 and sit in last place in the CFL’s East Division. Some deep Wikipedia diving reveals that CFL teams play 18 games in a season — which is pretty important info if you’re thinking long and hard about this one.

Also of note: the Alouettes haven’t been competitive in years. Maybe that’s obvious, considering that this team just traded for a quarterback who was benched TWICE by the Cleveland Browns, and then never got a look with a mediocre Tiger-Cats team. Either way, Montreal went 3-15 last year, and haven’t made the playoffs since 2014, when it was 9-9.

My only worry betting the under here would be that the results are not necessarily tied to Johnny Football. There’s a non-zero chance that Manziel comes in and wins (or is given) the starting job, thereby lighting a fire under the buttox of, um, former Oregon Duck Vernon Adams Jr. Manziel has lost starting QB jobs before, and who’s to say that Adams Jr. isn’t a better signal-caller at this point? As an aside, Adams Jr. cost me some cash on an Oregon win total bet in 2014, and I’m not letting him take my lunch money again.

Over/Under 7.5 Starts In Montreal

  • Over: -300
  • Under: +200

Honestly I cannot believe that this juice isn’t reversed. Bookmakers are implying a 70% chance (with juice removed) that Montreal Manziel will start the majority of the Alouettes’ games for the rest of the season. Seems weird for a guy who lost his job as the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns to Josh McCown before losing his new job as backup quarterback to someone named Austin Davis. It also begs mentioning again that Manziel didn’t play a down of football for the Ti-Cats this season and they are 2-3.

Considering what we know about Manziel’s work ethic, this line seems… off? Like, literally a mistake by the bookmaker? These odds should be reversed, right? Am I supposed to slam the under now?

It’s totally feasible that the Alouettes have every intention to start Johnny Football and see what they’re working with — and it seems just as feasible that Johnny gets too deep into the poutine and gets benched for a JUGS machine.

Will Johnny Manziel Win MVP?

  • Yes: +1500
  • No: -5000

First off, in Canada it’s the Most Outstanding Player, so there’s a chance you’d win NO on this prop on the technicality alone. And Googling “CFL MOP race” doesn’t return a whole lot of results (shocker). But here’s what I do know: there are other skill position players on teams better than Montreal who have a five-game head start and do not have a complicated history of letting their backers down.

Maybe, maybe, everything breaks right for Manziel: he wins and keeps the starting job in Montreal; the larger fields in Canada play right into his run-around-and-make-something-happen skill set; he turns out to be fluent in French and he leads the Alouettes on a renaissance that helps them make the playoffs.

Maybe that all happens. Maybe it doesn’t. Let’s pretend that it does. All that still might not be enough for Manziel to win the MVP, simply because there are other guys on better teams who didn’t spend a third of the season on the bench for a different team.

Don’t think about this one too hard — tell your landlord he’s getting August’s rent a little late, lay the -3000, and when the season ends in November, you’ll have a head start on buying Christmas gifts. You’ll probably want to buy your landlord’s presents first.