This was a week of unexpected results. I mean, who had the lowly Hamilton Tiger-Cats laying a lickin’ on the Alouettes? (Fun fact: Montreal has now lost five straight games at Ivor Wynne Stadium. I’m sure they can’t wait for it to be torn down!) Toronto running roughshod over the Bombers on the road–without Ricky Ray? Yeah, didn’t see that coming. Hell, I wouldn’t have picked the Riders to beat B.C., either. But the one team that lived up to expectations last week, proving that their back-to-back Labour Day wins weren’t all just luck of the boot, was the Calgary Stampeders. Their all-around dominant performance combined with Montreal and B.C. losses puts the Stamps in first place this week. But that could be subject to change, as they travel to Vancouver this weekend for just their second meeting with the Lions on the season. You might as well skip the Turkey Day doubleheader, cuz that’s the game to watch, right there! (Mind you, the Riders and Argos isn’t a bad matchup, either…)
Week 14 Power Rankings
1. Calgary Stampeders (8-5) Last Week: 3. Though their four-game winning streak was snapped in unlucky Week 13, the Stamps have still won five of their last six, four of them coming against divisional opponents. Their 5-2 record against the West is matched only by the Argos’ mark in the East Division, but the team faces its toughest divisional foe this weekend. For a Thanksgiving weekend matchup, this one could have major playoff implications; a loss here, and Calgary is two games back with the tiebreaker in B.C.’s favour. The Stamps are a respectable 3-3 on the road, but the Lions have lost just once at home–a 27-14 defeat at the hands of Edmonton way back in Week Four. Yes, those are the same Eskimos the Stamps have beaten thrice this season. Not that I’m implying anything…
2. B.C. Lions (9-4) Last Week: 1. The bright side of B.C.’s effort in Regina last weekend was that they came on strong in the second half, coming within a touchdown of erasing an 18-1 halftime deficit. The flipside is that they scored only seven points through three quarters of football before adding two majors in the fourth. While the B.C. D remains the league’s stingiest by a wide margin, their offence is pretty middle-of-the-pack. Not that they generally have a problem holding opponents under 25 points, but they almost need to do so in order to win. And for a team leading its division, a 3-3 mark against Western opponents isn’t all that impressive. Still, a win over Calgary this weekend puts them back in first place, possibly for good. I don’t think there’s anyone in the league this team can’t beat, but on an off night, they’re susceptible to slipping up, and that could cost them in the postseason.
3. Saskatchewan Roughriders (7-6) Last Week: 4. Mosaic Stadium is a pretty tough place to play. Just ask the Calgary Stampeders or the B.C. Lions, the two West-leading teams who left Regina with losses on their records these past two weeks. Those two big divisional wins have vaulted the Riders back into the playoff hunt, though they’ve already lost the season series against Calgary, effectively putting them two games out of second. With a final month’s schedule that includes trips to Toronto and Vancouver, as well as hosting the Als and Argos, it might be difficult for Saskatchewan to gain some ground in the standings, but third place is probably safe–provided that they beat Edmonton in Week 16.
4. Montreal Alouettes (8-5) Last Week: 2. The Als are this week’s biggest losers–unless you count Edmonton. Hard to believe that a team can be leading its division with a 2-4 road record and a -18 points differential, but alas, the Als maintain a two-point lead in the East despite losing in Hamilton for the second time this season. Need further proof that the East is the CFL’s junior circuit? All three of the Western playoff teams are ranked ahead of Montreal this week, and rightfully so, IMO.
5. Toronto Argonauts (7-6) Last Week: 5. Even though they were playing against Winnipeg, I didn’t think the Argos could win without Ricky Ray. But they pulled it off with ease, Jarious Jackson doing just enough (17-for-28, 155 yards, one TD) to beat the league’s worst team–quite comfortably, at that. If there’s one thing that adds some lustre to their lacklustre win in Winnipeg, it’s that, well, they were in Winnipeg. Toronto has won four road games this year, tied for the most with B.C., which might come in handy come playoff time if they don’t win their division. Of course, if they finish first in the East, that all goes out the window, cuz the Grey Cup Final’s in Toronto this year. They’re not gonna get there with Jarious Jackson at the helm, mind you…
6. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (5-8) Last Week: 8. In last week’s rankings, I dropped the Tabbies to last after they lost the season series to Winnipeg. But with their win last weekend, they actually won their season series against Montreal. Not that I think they’ll catch the Als in the standings, but perhaps another playoff upset is in order. (I mean, who could forget last year’s exciting East Semi-Final?) Mind you, to make the magic happen, they’d hafta win on the road, a tricky proposition for a team that’s just 1-5 away from Ivor Wynne. That said, their most winnable road game (on paper, anyways) comes in Week 15 when they travel to Edmonton. The Esks, losers of five straight, are just 3-3 at home–the only team with a losing record on its home turf is Winnipeg, and we know what happened when the Ti-Cats went there, but I digress. The winner of Friday’s contest moves ahead in the race (more of a potato-sack hop, really) for the sixth and final playoff spot. If there was ever a time for Henry Burris and co to answer the call, it’s gotta be this Friday.
7. Edmonton Eskimos (5-8) Last Week: 6. Hard to believe there was a time when this team was challenging for first, but they haven’t won a game since Labour Day, going 0-for-September for the first time in franchise history. Edmonton is down to its third-string quarterback, whether by injuries or attrition–or perhaps a bit of both. Matt Nichols has some potential at the position, but you kinda get the feeling that this team is playing for next year. And yet, if they can snap their losing streak against the equally-inept(?) Hamilton Tiger-Cats, they’d be in playoff position. It’s the stoppable force (Edmonton offence) against the moveable object (Hamilton D) in a race for a first-round exit–and I don’t think TSN’s ratings will break any records for this one.
8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (3-10) Last Week: 7. Losing 29-10 at home to an Argo offence led by Jarious Jackson, well, that’s pretty much rock-bottom. And looking at the schedule, I don’t see any games remaining where I’d be tempted to bet on the Bombers. It honestly wouldn’t phase me if this team finished 3-15. But hey, they could always trade for Ricky Ray next year, right? (Yeah, don’t get yer hopes up, or anything…)