July 4, 2023

Power Rankings: Embrace the turmoil

Kevin Sousa/CFL.ca

TORONTO — You get one league-altering, power-ranking shifting win in Week 3 and all CFL hell breaks loose a week later.

In the wake of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers being knocked from the top of CFL.ca’s Power Rankings, the lay of the Canadian football land feels like one of a nation in political turmoil. It started on Canada Day, with the Bombers doing everything they could to reassert their dominance over the league in a 17-3 win over the Montreal Alouettes.

The Toronto Argonauts had plans of their own on holiday Monday, coming for the top-ranked kings, the BC Lions. They did not miss.

The Argos picked off quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. six times to lead the way to a statement-making 45-24 win. Now standing at 3-0 and as the lone undefeated team in the league, the Argos have claimed the top spot in this week’s Power Rankings.

In each of their games, it felt like the Bombers and Argos weren’t just winning, but making statements to the rest of the league. After two solid weeks of (deservedly) hearing about how well the Lions’ defence had played, the Bombers almost had a shutout in Montreal. Then the Argos sent out a clear message on who the league’s most-feared defence should be.

After two seasons of one team owning the top spot in the rankings, we have our third team at the No. 1 spot as we head into Week 5 of the season, with the dynamics of the Lions’ Week 3 win over the Bombers factoring into this week’s rankings.

The times are tumultuous around here, but they’re fun. What does Week 5 hold?

» Steinberg’s MMQB: The champs are (still) here
Landry’s five takeaways from Week 4
» Watch: Timber Mart’s Plays of the Week
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1. Toronto Argonauts (3-0)

Last week: 3
Last game: 43-31 win over Edmonton 

Next game: At Montreal, Fri. July 14

Worth noting: The instinct in these situations with a still-new starting QB is to pump the brakes. In between running all over the field and making impossible-looking cross body throws for touchdowns, Chad Kelly might as well be in the car pushing your foot away from the brake. Beyond Kelly’s stellar play through three games, it’s the entire body of work — this week’s example is six interceptions and a punt return TD — that the Argos are offering up that is truly impressive.

2. BC Lions (3-1)

Last week: 1
Last game: 45-24 loss to Toronto

Next game: Vs. Montreal, Sun. July 9

Worth noting: In the wake of that crushing loss on Monday night, Lions’ head coach Rick Campbell spoke of treating the highs and the lows that the game will bring you the same way. In the span of two games, the Lions have experienced both feelings in the extreme. How they fare on Sunday at home against the Alouettes will say a lot about them.

3. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (3-1)

Last week: 2
Last game: 17-3 win over Montreal
Next game: Vs. Calgary, Fri. July 7

Worth noting:  The Bombers drop a spot in light of the Lions’ convincing win over them a week ago. As most expected, Mike O’Shea’s team got back on track in a soggy, patience-testing game in Montreal. With a balanced offence (185 rushing yards, 177 passing yards) and two sacks allowed, the Bombers held control of this game essentially all night. Sure, they had four turnovers, but so did the Als; we’ll chalk most of that up to the conditions at Molson Percival Stadium.

4. Saskatchewan Roughriders (2-1)

Last week: 4
Last game: 29-26 OT win over Calgary (Week 3)

Next game: Vs. Edmonton, Thurs. July 6

Worth noting: The Riders are rolling and their incoming opponent is reeling. The talk of this short week in Riderville should be the perils of the trap game. That’s a good test for a Riders team that’s showing promise and in that, an ability to scrap and claw its way to wins. The first of those, of course, came with that Week 1 goal line stand in Edmonton. Let’s see how the Riders handle this week.

5. Montreal Alouettes (2-1)

Last week: 5
Last game: 17-3 loss to Winnipeg

Next game: At BC, Sunday, July 9

Worth noting: After picking up wins against Ottawa and Hamilton — and looking good doing so — the Als continue to run perhaps the most difficult gauntlet there is in the league right now. After hosting and falling to the Bombers on Canada Day, they now travel to the west coast to face the BC Lions. At least at BC Place, we know the weather won’t be a factor. Cody Fajardo and the Als will just have to fight off a stifling Lions’ defence. Oh, and that gauntlet: the Als host the Argos in Week 6.

6. Calgary Stampeders (1-2)

Last week: 6
Last game: 29-26 OT loss to Saskatchewan (Week 3)
Next game: At Winnipeg, Fri. July 7

Worth noting: The Stamps have been extremely unlucky on the injury front, but have been proactive in dealing with it. The return of receiver Marken Michel softens the loss of Malik Henry, and the removal of Reggie Begelton from the six-game injured list is some welcome encouraging news. The Stamps will need to be sharp this week as they come out of their bye and head into IG Field to face the Bombers.

7. Ottawa REDBLACKS (1-2)

Last week: 8
Last game: 26-7 win over Edmonton 

Next game: At Hamilton, Sat. July 8

Worth noting: If The Fast and the Furious series has taught us anything, it’s that it doesn’t matter whether you win by an inch or a mile (or a centimetre or kilometre), winning is winning. The REDBLACKS jump up a spot after ending their home losing streak with a win over the Elks. If this is the week that Jeremiah Masoli makes his season debut, doing it at his old stomping grounds of Tim Hortons Field would set a perfect stage for the veteran’s long-anticipated return.

8. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (0-3)

Last week: 7
Last game: 38-12 loss to Montreal (Week 3)

Next game: Vs. Ottawa, Sat. July 8 

Worth noting: What will the bye have done for the winless Tiger-Cats? A win is starting to feel crucial, with the Argos and Als off to a good start in the East. Now with Ottawa picking up its first win of the season, the Ticats sit firmly in the East’s cellar. The good news here: they have a chance to get into the race this week, hosting the REDBLACKS on Saturday. There’s lots of season left and this isn’t exactly a must-win, but there’ll be a sense of desperation at Tim Hortons Field.

9. Edmonton Elks (0-4)

Last week: 9
Last game: 26-7 loss to Ottawa 

Next game: At Saskatchewan, Thurs. July 6

Worth noting: Another short-ish week for the Elks doesn’t necessarily make the outlook any sunnier for them, as they have started 0-4 for the first time since 2010. If they need something to draw on, they can look back to their last visit to Mosaic Stadium, where Taylor Cornelius led the squad to a 26-24 win over the Roughriders, back in Week 15 of the 2022 season.

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