TORONTO — The regular season came to an end and we now have somewhat of a final picture for every offence and defence across the league on CFL.ca’s Team Grades powered by PFF.
There are six teams that will continue their journey towards the 110th Grey Cup thanks to the efforts of units like the Toronto Argonauts passing offence, the Montreal Alouettes coverage unit and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers rushing group.
If you want to know which units to keep an eye on as we head into the playoffs, check out the final 2023 edition of Team Grades Powered by PFF:
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PFF utilizes extensive review of game footage to provide additional context for every action on the field. Highly-trained PFF staff break down every game, player and play to provide over 200 unique data points, which are used to compile Player Grades – a numerical representation up-to-100 of performance at their specific position.
For more information on PFF, Player Grades, the Grading Scale and more, please visit pff.com/grades.
Toronto Argonauts (83.7 offensive grade, 90.5 defensive grade)
Key area: 88.3 passing grade
The Toronto Argonauts finished the season with a new franchise record 16 wins – also tied for CFL record – and the grades reflect that. Out of all the areas where the Argos excelled – namely coverage (first), pass blocking (second), rushing (third), run defence (second) and pass rushing (fourth), none was more important than the passing game.
Not because that’s the only way the Toronto Argonauts win games, but because the rise of Chad Kelly to unquestionable leader of the Double Blue made the current champions withstand the loss of pivot McLeod Bethel-Thompson without losing their dominance over the East. Kelly was first in individual passing grade (90.7) and had a 7.9 big-time throw percentage, second only to Hamilton’s Matthew Shiltz (8.1).
Winnipeg Blue Bombers (90.0 offensive grade, 85.9 defensive grade)
Key area: 95.7 rushing grade
Winnipeg also finished the season atop the standings again and accomplished the feat by excelling in multiple phases of the game. The Bombers were third in passing and coverage grade, first in receiving grade and second in rushing grade. The latter was a product of a record-setting season by a MOP candidate Brady Oliveira-led running attack.
The Blue and Gold led the league in rushing yards and first downs, were second in yards after contact, third in touchdowns, yards per carry and explosive plays. The offensive line did a tremendous job opening up holes for Oliveira and co., leading the league with 1,097 before contact.
BC Lions (81.5 offensive grade, 87.2 defensive grade)
Key area: 89.2 passing grade
Vernon Adams Jr. had a career-year in 2023 with the Leos and led a passing game that was one of the driving factors for the team’s success all season long. BC led the league in big-time throws (46), passing yards (5,668), average depth of target (12.0), air yard percentage (67.0) and passing first downs (288).
The veteran pivot trailed only Kelly in passing grade by leading an offence that was unapologetic when throwing the ball down the field, finishing the season with 38 big-time throws and a high grade despite a high number of turnover worthy plays (27).
Montreal Alouettes (75.2 offensive grade, 85.6 defensive grade)
Key area: 90.5 coverage grade
Montreal’s coverage unit was one of the best in the league from start to finish in 2023. The Als allowed the second-lowest number of passing majors and completion percentage, third lowest passing first downs, while also finishing third in interceptions.
Defensive backs Marc-Antoine Dequoy (90.8) and Reggie Stubblefield (89.1) finished with the second and third highest individual coverage grades across all defenders, combining for eight interceptions and only 17 first downs over 41 receptions.
Hamilton Tiger-Cats (71.9 offensive grade, 79.2 defensive grade)
Key area: 92.9 rushing grade
James Butler went off all year and it reflects here on the Tiger-Cats rushing grade. The running back finished with 1,116 and seven majors in his first year in Hamilton.
The Tiger-Cats relied heavily on their running back for their ground game success, as 832 of his yards came after contact, second only to Oliveira.
Calgary Stampeders (68.3 offensive grade, 82.8 defensive grade)
Key area: 83.9 coverage grade
The Stampeders finished second in passing first downs allowed with 186 and stops with 75 and only Winnipeg and Montreal allowed fewer passing yards than Calgary in 2023.
The defence was led by Cameron Judge who finished with the fifth highest individual coverage grade (88.9) of the season after finishing with five interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown.
Ottawa REDBLACKS (69.3 offensive grade, 80.1 defensive grade)
Key area: 85.8 run defence grade
The REDBLACKS were second in rushing yards allowed per game (84.6) and first in yards per carry (4.3).
Ottawa’s defensive front was one of the best unit across the league in getting into the backfield to stop the running game with an average depth of tackle of 3.88, best mark across all teams in 2023, while also finishing third in tackles for loss with 51.
Saskatchewan Roughriders (67.2 offensive grade, 72.9 defensive grade)
Key area: 78.2 pass rushing grade
One of the best areas for the Roughriders in 2023 was their pass rushing unit. Saskatchewan finished with the third highest pressure percentage (35.5), fourth highest pass rush win percentage (43.1), all that while placing second to last in unblocked pressures.
Anthony Lanier II led the group with five sacks, 16 hits and 27 hurries for a 15.8 pressure percentage.
Edmonton Elks (71.2 offensive grade, 65.4 defensive grade)
Key area: 94.6 rushing grade
The Elks had a resurgence over the second half of the season thanks to the emergence of quarterback Tre Ford. The National pivot led an offence in Edmonton that confused opposing defences with a mixture of running and passing plays.
Ford finished just outside the top 10 in rushing yards while finishing second in yards per carry (8.0) behind only Calgary’s Peyton Logan amongst all players with at least 10 rushing attempts in 2023.
|TEAM||OVERALL OFFENSIVE GRADE**||OVERALL DEFENSIVE GRADE**|
|Winnipeg Blue Bombers||90.0||85.9|
**Cumulative grades based on team-performance in Weeks 1-21 of 2023