September 11, 2023

Power Rankings: Something big is brewing

Kevin Sousa/

TORONTO — We try not to look too far ahead here in the world of ranking power by the week, but that’s been proving to be difficult recently. What we saw on Saturday didn’t help things much.

The Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers both clinched playoff spots on Saturday, each with comfortable wins. Both hit the 10-win mark in the process and of course, met in the 109th Grey Cup last year, where the Argos topped them to spoil the Bombers’ hopes of a three-peat Grey Cup run. The two have shared the top spot in these rankings in all but one week of the 2023 season. The last five weeks, the Argos have been No. 1, with the Bombers right at their heels at No. 2.

They’re finally set to meet in Week 17. We know, there are two full weeks of games to be played before we can really get into the Argos’ trip to IG Field on Fri. Sept. 29, but we can’t be the only ones thinking about the heavyweight match that’s brewing in front of us.

That it’s their first and only meeting on the schedule this season just adds to the appeal of the game. There’s lots of good football to see before this one and we’ll get into that below, but let’s be real with ourselves: We’re inching closer to a huge game between two teams that are playing exceptionally well. It can’t get here fast enough.

» MMQB: Storylines for the stretch drive of the season
» Landry’s 5 takeaways from Week 14
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1. Toronto Argonauts (10-1)

Last week: 1
Last game: 39-10 win over Montreal
Next game: At Montreal, Fri. Sept. 15 

Worth noting: The Argos rolled to a win over the Als at BMO Field on Saturday afternoon, pushing their win streak to four games and becoming the first team (by a few hours) to lock up a playoff spot. The Argos put in another well-rounded effort, creating over 400 yards of net offence, while the defence (special teams included) enjoyed a four-turnover day. That fortress of humanity around Chad Kelly stayed impenetrable on Saturday, as the Argos’ o-line didn’t allow a sack for the third game in a row.

2. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (10-3)

Last week: 2
Last game: 51-6 win over Saskatchewan
Next game: At Hamilton, Sat. Sept. 16

Worth noting: How best to sum up the Bombers’ emphatic, playoff-clinching beatdown of a win over their arch-rivals one province to the West? No one will top’s Ed Tait: “It was essentially akin to having a tiger pull down a wounded antelope in a couple of strides and then watch it meticulously pick the carcass clean for three hours,” he wrote. Yep, that. Before that Grey Cup rematch in Week 17, the Bombers will head into Hamilton to face the Tiger-Cats. Remember that last year, the Ticats handed the visiting Bombers their worst loss of the regular season. It’ll likely be front of mind for this veteran-laden Bombers’ team.

3. BC Lions (8-4)

Last week: 3
Last game: 34-25 win over Montreal (Week 13)

Next game: Vs. Ottawa, Sat. Sept. 16

Worth noting: The Lions come out of their bye week ready to make their push into the final stretch of their schedule. With the Bombers and Argos already having an X next to their names, the Lions will be the next team due to clinch a playoff spot. A win over the visiting REDBLACKS on Saturday is a step in the right direction and will keep them on track to at least host a playoff game, with the Bombers still just a couple of games ahead of them for the top spot in the West.

4. Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-6)

Last week: 4
Last game: 51-6 loss to Winnipeg 

Next game: Vs. Edmonton, Fri. Sept. 15

Worth noting: The Riders come away from their OK Tire Labour Day Weekend series having split with the Bombers. As sour as the taste in their mouths is right now — we’ll refer you to Mr. Tait’s tiger-in-the-jungle line above — the Riders are in a decent spot, as they hold onto that third spot in the West with a two-game lead over Calgary. The challenge for this week will be putting that ugly loss behind them and being ready for an upstart Edmonton team that’s looking to make the West Division as volatile as possible.

5. Montreal Alouettes (6-6)

Last week: 5
Last game: 39-10 loss to Toronto

Next game: Vs. Toronto, Fri. Sept. 15

Worth noting: Head coach Jason Maas used the phrase ‘gut punch’ multiple times after his team’s frustrating loss to the East-leading Argos on Saturday. It’s summing up this entire three-game stretch the Als have had against the league’s top-three teams, in the Argos, Bombers and Lions. All three games have been losses, by an average of 22.6 points. Sitting at .500, the Tiger-Cats are back to just a game behind them in the East Division standings. The Als need to steel themselves as they head home for another shot at the Argos on Friday night.

6. Edmonton Elks (3-10)

Last week: 7
Last game: 25-23 win over Calgary

Next game: At Saskatchewan, Fri. Sept. 15 

Worth noting: Let’s use this space for some love for Elks’ kicker Dean Faithfull, who gave a heartfelt interview with TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, revealing that he carries his since-passed Nan’s lucky horseshoe with him. When he finally got to the locker room, he was hoisted up by his teammates, who were grateful for his 42-yard game winner. Sitting atop the heap, the British kicker smiled and did his best QE2 wave on the weekend that marked the one-year anniversary of her passing. It was incredible stuff.

7. Calgary Stampeders (4-9)

Last week: 6
Last game: 25-23 loss to Edmonton
Next game: Vs. Montreal, Sat. Sept. 23 

Worth noting: Through three quarters on Saturday night, the Stamps appeared to have the Elks right where they wanted them. Tre Ford had been bottled up and forced into a pair of interceptions, with the Calgary defence shining at Commonwealth. As the third quarter shifted into the fourth, it all started slipping away, as Ford and the Elks offence turned into lightning in that bottle. The bye comes at a good time for Dave Dickenson’s team. The Stamps have five games left to tap into the consistency that’s eluded them this year. Their return from the bye marks a pair of East Division opponents, in Montreal and Hamilton, another bye and then leads into what could be a crucial game against the Riders in Week 19.

8. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (5-7)

Last week: 8
Last game: 27-24 win over Ottawa

Next game: Vs. Winnipeg, Sat. Sept. 15

Worth noting: It may have been un-wise for five of the six writers to pick against the Ticats, even if they had a short week against a rested REDBLACKS team. Three of the Ticats’ five wins have come from their other Ontario rival and Friday night’s tight victory gives them some life in their hunt for a playoff spot. The Ticats got their most inspiring win last year when the Blue Bombers came to town as a heavily favoured guest. Can they do it again this season? Tim White, fresh off of a 180 receiving yard and two-touchdown showing, will say yes.

9. Ottawa REDBLACKS (3-9)

Last week: 9
Last game: 27-24 loss to Hamilton

Next game: At BC, Sat. Sept. 7

Worth noting: Lost in a difficult defeat but worth shouting out here is running back Devonte Williams‘ absurd night against the Ticats. He had 146 rushing yards on 17 carries and threw in four catches for 69 receiving yards for a 215-yard effort. The bad news? Sitting last in the East, trailing the Ticats by two games and having lost all three of their meetings with them this year, the REDBLACKS would have to overtake them in the standings as part of a late-season heater to make the playoffs. It’s not impossible, but it’s a tough road ahead for the REDBLACKS.

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