July 17, 2023

Power Rankings: Yes, this one was fun

Chris Tanouye/CFL.ca

TORONTO — If you’re a Power Rankings-minded person the way that we are, you were likely watching the fireworks that Week 6 of the CFL season provided while trying to appropriately sort the fallout that resulted.

What are we to do with the Ottawa REDBLACKS, who turned to their fourth quarterback in five games and produced one of the most spectacular finishes the league has seen to a game in years? Conversely, are the Bombers impacted?

The fate of the Toronto Argonauts in these rankings wasn’t debated much, since they won their shootout of a game in Montreal against the Alouettes to stay undefeated. But what about these Als, who despite losing, may have played their best game of the season against the top team in the league? We’re typically not ones to reward Ls, but does this provide an exception?

Then there’s the down-to-the-wire finish that the Calgary Stampeders and Saskatchewan Roughriders gave us. The Stamps finally looked like the Stamps that we’ve come to expect, whether their QB has been Henry Burris, Bo Levi Mitchell or now Jake Maier. The Riders will be without Trevor Harris going forward, which is a gut punch to their promising start to this season. They can be buoyed though, by the play of backup Mason Fine, who was thrown into the fiery umpteenth ring of competitive hell on Saturday night and thrived.

Finally, those three games — each one battling the last to be considered Game Of The Year leaders — ended up having a trickle down effect on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. They handled business in Edmonton to open the week, but were overshadowed by the drama and impact of the next three games that came after them.

Here’s where the debate dust settled for us on Monday morning.

» Steinberg’s MMQB: A wild West shootout
Landry’s five takeaways from Week 6
» Watch: Timber Mart’s Plays of the Week
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1. Toronto Argonauts (4-0)

Last week: 1
Last game: 35-27 win over Montreal 

Next game: At Hamilton, Fri. July 21

Worth noting: When the Argos were set to do battle with the Lions in Week 4, the hope was that we’d see how the Argos would respond to a test. That test came in Montreal this past week and the Argos aced it. That’s not to say it was easy for them, but the reigning champs showed a lot of poise in their win. There’s lots of praise to go around, but how about first-year starter Chad Kelly making us forget his lack of experience by going 21-25 for 351 yards, three TDs, with one interception?

2. BC Lions (4-1)

Last week: 2
Last game: 35-19 win over Montreal (Week 5)

Next game: Vs. Saskatchewan, Sat. July 22

Worth noting: The Lions emerge from their bye week and go into the unknown, somewhat, with Mason Fine named the starter for the Riders. While the Fine-Vernon Adams Jr. duel will be interesting, the more we see of this Lions team, the more intriguing its defence becomes. We wonder how Mathieu Betts spent his bye week, and how many flag football quarterbacks may have been sacked in that time span? The CFL welcomes its sack leader back into action.

3. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (4-2)

Last week: 3
Last game: 31-28 OT loss to Ottawa
Next game: Vs. Edmonton, Thurs. July 20

Worth noting: From the Winnipeg side of their CFL classic finish, the image of the Bombers looking a little shaken as the game unraveled on them is one that we didn’t expect. If this can happen to the most poised, battle-tested team in the league over the last four years, it can happen to anyone. For the second time this season, we’ll wait to see how the Bombers respond to an uncharacteristic loss.

4. Calgary Stampeders (2-3)

Last week: 6
Last game: 33-31 win over Saskatchewan
Next game: Vs. Ottawa, Sun. July 23

Worth noting: “We were craving something like this,” Jake Maier told TSN after the Stamps’ ultra-dramatic win. They’re still a game under .500, but if this was the win the Stamps were craving, they could be on their way into the conversation in the West Division. The film they’ve likely already started watching on the REDBLACKS shows that .500 isn’t guaranteed for them in Week 7.

5. Montreal Alouettes (2-3)

Last week: 5
Last game: 35-27 loss to Toronto

Next game: Vs. Calgary, Sun. July 30

Worth noting: The Als remain an exciting work in progress. Questions of receiver depth are being answered by the likes of Austin Mack, Kaion Julien-Grant and now Tyler Snead, who had a TD hat trick in the loss to the Argos. QB protection remains an issue, with the Als surrendering four more sacks. A no doubt tired team that had long travel and a short week gets a well-earned bye and fresh legs for the Stamps on July 30.

6. Ottawa REDBLACKS (2-3)

Last week: 8
Last game: 31-28 OT win over Winnipeg 

Next game: At Calgary, Sun. July 23

Worth noting: If you were a door-to-door salesperson for the CFL, the REDBLACKS’ rug-yanking win over the Bombers is the game you’d be showing people. The reaction of the Ottawa players and coaches was like witnessing a live-stream injection of hope into a franchise that’s taken more than its share of bumps over the last few years. Was this a blindingly bright aberration? Did we witness it all come together in one brilliant moment for the REDBLACKS? Is it somewhere in between? We’ll see, but for now we’re basking in just how entertaining that game was, and rewarding this team for toppling the Bombers the way they did.

7. Saskatchewan Roughriders (3-2)

Last week: 4
Last game: 33-31 loss to Calgary

Next game: At BC, Sat. July 22

Worth noting: Our best wishes go out to Trevor Harris, whose injury brought a raucous Mosaic Stadium to a standstill on Saturday. As we mentioned above, Mason Fine‘s play was very encouraging after Harris went out. We know, from all of the narrow wins (and the most recent loss) that this team has a ton of heart. The uncertainty created by Harris’ injury drops them this week, but we’ll find out if this group can climb back up without Harris at the helm of the offence.

8. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (2-3)

Last week: 7
Last game: 37-29 win over Edmonton 

Next game: Vs. Toronto, Fri. July 21

Worth noting: In any other week, the Ticats would likely have climbed higher. Call them victims of drama, three times over. That even extends to the quarterback situation, with Matt Shiltz not finishing Thursday’s game, after he took a lower body injury. The positive here, and more important to the players in the room than their spot on this list, is the two desperately needed wins that they’ve picked up. While we wait on Shiltz’s status for Friday, the rest of the team will need to be razor sharp with the Argos coming to town.

9. Edmonton Elks (0-6)

Last week: 9
Last game: 37-29 loss to Hamilton 

Next game: At Winnipeg, Thurs. July 20

Worth noting: The Elks’ third quarter lapse was their undoing, as a winnable game slipped away and was seized by the Ticats. TSN’s Milt Stegal hit the nail on the head in his analysis for TSN, saying the Elks need to play near perfect football to get over the hump and get their first win of the season. A big challenge stands in front of the Elks this week, with an angry Blue Bombers team waiting for them at IG Field on Thursday.

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