- FREE AGENCY
TORONTO — It’s a sight you can probably get used to.
The two Alberta teams are off to the races through one week in the CFL, with Calgary and Edmonton playing as advertised and jumping out to 1-0 starts.
However, it’s more than a two-horse race. While the Bombers lost on a last-minute field goal, four teams in the West claimed victory out of the gate with BC and Saskatchewan also winning.
It’s a different story in the East, where the Ottawa REDBLACKS are all alone in first despite not even playing a game.
As the West gets just a little wilder, CFL.ca ranks all nine clubs going into Week 2:
Bo Levi Mitchell was often just a tad off target in his 2018 debut, but did enough to help the Stamps win their season-opener over the Ticats. Most importantly his shoulder looked just fine, and Calgary’s offensive weaponry is the envy of the league heading into a Grey Cup rematch with the Argos.
Another game, another fourth-quarter comeback for Mike Reilly, giving him 20 in his career. The Eskimos ‘escaped’ with a victory despite rolling up 481 yards of offence to Winnipeg’s 300, but Week 1’s rain-soaked victory was impressive nonetheless. The Esks’ offence is a certified juggernaut.
Zach Collaros was decisive and accurate in his Riders debut, ending a personal 12-game losing streak with a win over the Toronto Argonauts. But it was the pass-rushing tandem of Charleston Hughes and Willie Jefferson that stood out the most, coming exactly as advertised while making life miserable for Ricky Ray.
Speaking of Ricky Ray, the Argos’ pivot didn’t play a snap in the pre-season and it showed in Week 1, as the Argos had a tough first few quarters offensively against the Riders. Still, things started to click later in the game, setting up what should be an exciting Grey Cup rematch with Calgary in Week 2.
The Week 1 bye is no fun for fans, but the REDBLACKS watched themselves take sole possession of first in the East after the Argos, Als and Ticats all lost. Led by Trevor Harris and one of the most exciting and explosive offences in the CFL, the REDBLACKS are a contender for the East, with a big first test on the horizon against the Riders.
Chris Streveler had a solid debut, throwing three touchdown passes in his first professional start. Still, it’s an uphill battle for the Bombers without Matt Nichols in the highly-competitive West, and their defence didn’t do much to inspire confidence after surrendering 481 total yards. A familiar foe in Drew Willy awaits.
Jeremiah Masoli was impressive in a losing effort, crossing the 300-yard plateau for the sixth straight game — enough to keep Johnny Manziel on the bench, for now. The Ticats kept it close on the road against the Stamps and will try for an Alberta split in Week 2 when they visit the Eskimos.
After a step back in 2017, we saw a very different Jonathon Jennings in his season debut Saturday. Jennings didn’t take unnecessary risks and completed a high volume of passes, leading the Lions to a season-opening win over the Alouettes. If the Lions’ young pivot is back on track, BC could be an unexpected dark horse in the West.
The Alouettes’ offence came to life for 15 brief minutes against the Lions, led by the speed of Chris Williams and the strong arm of Drew Willy. With a dynamic running back and some highly-talented receivers, the Als have the talent to compete, but they’ll need to protect their quarterback with more regularity to make it happen.