August 7, 2023

Power Rankings: The Bombers’ strike back

Jason Halstead/

TORONTO — Last week, we (perhaps foolishly) spoke of the second tier of the Power Rankings being up for grabs.

We (perhaps foolishly) looked at the pending meeting between the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and BC Lions as a measuring stick between the two, with the winner surely landing higher than the loser in this week’s rankings. Beyond that, how much impact could either team have with one showing in one game?

We (certainly foolishly) glazed over the then-undefeated Toronto Argonauts’ trip to Calgary, thinking a Stampeders team that struggled to muster offence against the Montreal Alouettes a week earlier would undoubtedly tailspin against the mighty Argos.

Week 9 in the CFL season was a solid reminder that just when you think you might have a grasp on things in this league, it can almost all go in the opposite direction, with dominoes falling in quick succession.

The Bombers spoke loudest in this week’s Power Rankings, but those teams that fell into last week’s second tier listings made themselves heard as well. Calgary and Montreal had big wins and Ottawa came up short in a thriller at Mosaic Stadium. That second tier is still there this week, but the teams in it showed that they’re not content sitting there.

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1. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (6-2)

Last week: 3
Last game: 50-14 win over BC
Next game: At Edmonton, Thurs. Aug. 10

Worth noting: The whispers of age and longevity have lingered around the Bombers essentially since their Grey Cup loss to the Argos eight-plus months ago (sorry to bring up the bad thing, Bomber fans). Regardless of if it was the team’s intent, their showing against the Lions was an authoritative…we shouldn’t say what first comes to mind so we’ll go with “please go away” to those notions of age and a team’s time possibly being up. The Bombers are here and not going anywhere any time soon.

2. Toronto Argonauts (6-1)

Last week: 1
Last game: 20-7 loss to Calgary
Next game: Vs. Ottawa, Sun. Aug. 13 

Worth noting: The Argos are the final team in the league to have a blemish on their record and in their loss, are brought back down to Earth somewhat. While Chad Kelly’s ankle injury seems minor, the team’s lack of quarterback experience behind him came into the spotlight in Week 9.

3. BC Lions (6-2)

Last week: 2
Last game: 50-14 loss to Winnipeg 

Next game: Vs. Calgary, Sat. Aug. 12

Worth noting: There’s something intriguing in the dynamics of this season series thus far. The Lions laid the smack down on the Bombers in Week 3 and the Bombers emphatically returned the favour in Week 9. The Lions’ two losses have been blowouts to the other top-two teams in the league, which serves as the dim underbelly of the Lions’ otherwise wildly successful start to the season. At the risk of wishing a ton of good football away, the Week 18 rubber match between the Lions and Bombers can’t get here fast enough.

4. Montreal Alouettes (4-3)

Last week: 4
Last game: 27-14 win over Hamilton

Next game: Vs. Saskatchewan, Fri. Aug. 11

Worth noting: The Als fought their way through a slow, sloppy offensive start against a Ticats’ defence that bared its teeth against them. They were rewarded with an 18-point fourth quarter that lifted them back above .500 for the first time since Week 4. In the small-to-insignificant victories department, Jason Maas and Cody Fajardo can smile this week, knowing that they face their former team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, holding a slightly better record than them 10 weeks into the season.

5. Calgary Stampeders (3-5)

Last week: 6
Last game: 20-7 win over Toronto
Next game: At BC, Sat. Aug. 12

Worth noting: The Stamps’ season of highs and lows continues and now they ride the biggest high available to a team in the league, after handing the Argos their first loss of the season. Last week, we looked at the difficult road ahead for the Stamps, as they head to BC this week, host Winnipeg in Week 11 and travel to Toronto for Week 12. Suddenly, things feel a little more optimistic around Jake Maier and Co. and that tough schedule is a little less daunting.

6. Saskatchewan Roughriders (4-4)

Last week: 7
Last game:  26-24 win over Ottawa

Next game: At Montreal, Fri. Aug. 11

Worth noting: We should all hope that in a situation like a hot summer night in Regina with an intense football game on the line, we can be as cool as Brett Lauther was as he lined up his 54-yard game-winning field goal. With Sunday night’s game, the Riders continue their unique winning habit. All four wins they’ve gotten this year have been by no more than four points.

7. Ottawa REDBLACKS (3-4)

Last week: 5
Last game: 26-24 loss to Saskatchewan

Next game: At Toronto, Sun. Aug. 13

Worth noting: Another REDBLACKS game, another obscenely dramatic finish but this time Dustin Crum et al couldn’t manage to be on the winning side. An offensive touchdown — and not just in that final goal-line moment that ended up a field goal — would have made the difference in Regina on Sunday night and Shaq Evans pulling in a huge catch to get there would have been a great story. Offensive challenges are a part of the ride for any team that’s working with an inexperienced starting QB. How quickly Crum can learn and improve week-by-week could dictate the REDBLACKS’ success this year.

8. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (3-5)

Last week: 8
Last game: 27-14 loss to Montreal

Next game: Vs. Edmonton, Thurs. Aug. 17

Worth noting: For about three quarters on Saturday night, it looked like the Ticats were on their way to a defensively-rooted win over their division rival. Then things shifted and the Ticats dropped their fifth game of the season. While it’s easy to see dark clouds around that situation, Taylor Powell was a couple of dropped would-be-TD catches away from offering his team a shot at a win, all while his baptism in the fire plays out around him. Just two points behind Ottawa and Montreal, things are salvageable in Hamilton.

9. Edmonton Elks (0-8)

Last week: 9
Last game: 27-0 loss to BC (bye)

Next game: Vs. Winnipeg, Aug. 10

Worth noting: The Elks come out of an eventful bye week that sees them working under a new offensive coordinator, in Jarious Jackson and a new starting quarterback, with second-year pivot Tre Ford taking control of the offence. At this point, seeking their first win nearing the midpoint of the season, it’s time to try something that might shake out a win and start to rebuild the confidence of a team that’s taken its lumps. This fresh start is a great opportunity for that for these Elks.

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