TSN’s coverage of the Olympics moved the CFL’s bye weeks up by a couple weeks this year–which is fine by me, since I’ve been spending a lotta time watching the Games anyways. After spreading four CFL contests out over a two week period, it seems the West is back to being the best, with road wins by B.C. and Calgary in the province of Ontario shaking up my power rankings. Meanwhile, the Als have bounced back to the top of the East Division (though in theory, it’s a three-way tie) and the Riders keep finding ways to lose–this time, the game wasn’t even decided in the dying seconds! Here’s how my rankings look after seven weeks of play.
Week 7 Power Rankings
1. B.C. Lions (4-2) Last Week: 3. For the second straight week, the Lions held an opponent to single digits, picking off Ricky Ray three times while keeping the Argos out of the end zone and establishing themselves as the CFL’s second-stingiest defence in the process. Granted, the offence only put 18 points on the board this week, but they still did enough to win on the road. The Lions are now tied with Edmonton for the best record in the West, and subsequently, the league, at 4-2.
2. Calgary Stampeders (3-3) Last Week: 7. To be the man (Woo!), you gotta beat the man, and for the second time this season, the Stamps knocked off the top-ranked team on my list–this time, they even did it on the road! Although Kevin Glenn only threw for 141 yards, Jon Cornish had a monster performance with 170 yards rushing and another 47 on six catches in the passing game. Meanwhile, the defence stepped up in a big way, holding what was then the highest-scoring team in the league (Calgary has since regained the top spot) to just 20 points on their home turf. For Calgary, it was the first time they held an opponent under 30 since Week One, while bouncing back from that bad B.C. loss to put up 30 themselves for the fifth time this year. It’s been an up-and-down season for the Stamps thus far, but they’ve shown they can compete with anybody–’cept maybe the B.C. Lions.
3. Edmonton Eskimos (4-2) Last Week: 5. Edmonton also held its opponent to 20 points this week–but for them, that’s almost a season-high. (They had given up 23 to the Bombers in their previous contest.) But while the Esks helped themselves out by picking off Darian Durant twice–and returning one of those picks for a touchdown–they still managed to give up over 400 yards passing and another hundred on the ground. Meanwhile, Steven Jyles had arguably his best game of the season, 18-of-23 for 282 yards, but he threw just one touchdown pass, while the offence only added one more score on the ground. Until the sizzling Stamps O meets this elastic Edmonton D, it’s kinda hard to figure out who has the best team in Alberta, but I’d say the Stamps turned in the more-impressive performance in Week 7, and so I’m giving them the edge.
4. Montreal Alouettes (3-3) Last Week: 6. Montreal bounced back from two straight losses with a fairly convincing 36-26 win over Winnipeg in Week Six–but then again, they were playing against the worst team in the league. Still, with both Hamilton and Toronto suffering ugly home losses, I gotta give the Als the edge in the East Division.
5. Saskatchewan Roughriders (3-3) Last Week: 4. Don’t look now, but after a 3-0 start, the Riders have lost three straight–albeit by a combined total of 12 points. That said, Friday’s loss in Edmonton was the first of those losses that didn’t go right down to the wire, as the Green-and-White squandered a chance to tie with a late Durant interception. Still, I don’t think this is a terrible team; they’re just not getting the right bounces right now. But they’ll be in tough for the next two weeks, traveling to B.C., then hosting the Stamps for a rematch of that Week 4 OT loss. If the Roughies are 3-5 heading into Labour Day, there’ll be a whole lotta crushed watermelon helmets in Saskatchewan, that’s for sure…
6. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (3-3) Last Week: 1. What the heck happened to the Tabbies? In a game that the Toronto media thought they’d win easily, Hamilton laid an egg on its own turf. Their defence was completely unable to stop the run from Jon Cornish, who nearly doubled his season’s totals in a single game’s performance. Offensively, Henry Burris barely completed 50 per cent of his passes (21-for-40) against his former team, and were it not for Chevon Walker’s 103 total yards and two TDs, Hamilton would’ve had nothing going offensively. This is a team that, for all its firepower, has given up 16 more points than it’s scored–and on that note, they’ve only allowed one fewer point than the league-worst Bombers. If defence wins championships, Hamilton’s headed for a first-round exit.
7. Toronto Argonauts (3-3) Last Week: 2. I must admit that I didn’t see a single snap of the Argos’ Week 5 win over Montreal, but being that it was a road win over a traditional Eastern power (and their second win in a row), I moved them all the way up to second place in my rankings two weeks ago. Clearly, that was a mistake. Toronto may have the best defence in the East by a long shot (fourth overall in the league), but through Week Seven, they’ve scored one fewer point than the Edmonton Eskimos. That’s right, the team they switched quarterbacks with in the off-season. It’s very rare that you see Ricky Ray toss three picks and no TDs in a game, but that’s what happened in their 18-9 loss on Suck It USA Day. Unfortunately, it seems the legendary potato-chip pitchman just doesn’t really have anyone to throw to. Though Ray has appeared to be in-sync with speedster Chad Owens and youngster Dontrelle Inman, the rest of his receivers couldn’t catch a cold at CanadInns Stadium in November. In fact, of Ray’s 25 completions in that game, 11 went to Owens and Inman, while another 10 were caught by Andre Durie and Cory Boyd out of the backfield. The other Argo receivers combined for two receptions. Nuff said.
8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1-5) Last Week: 8. With every other team at .500 or better, the rest of the league is simply running away from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. But hey, maybe if they’re lucky, they can trade that first overall pick for Ricky Ray in this coming off-season. If the Argos miss the playoffs, he just might be expendable…