July 9, 2024

AMSOIL Power Rankings: An eventual collision course

Peter McCabe/CFL.ca

TORONTO — With five weeks of play in the books of the 2024 season, we have a pair of undefeated teams leading their respective divisions.

The Montreal Alouettes (5-0) and the Saskatchewan Roughriders (4-0) both faced different challenges last week and both managed to come out of Week 5 with their perfect records intact.

In Saskatchewan, Shea Patterson played a poised and steady game in his first start replacing the injured Trevor Harris, and was buoyed by a huge defensive performance, as the Riders kicked the week off with a 30-23 win over the visiting Toronto Argonauts. In Montreal, the Als fell behind to the visiting Calgary Stampeders before finding their game in the fourth quarter to thrill their fans with a comeback 30-26 win.

If you’re thinking about when the two league leaders will meet and what could be at stake, it’s not that far into the future. The Als will host the Riders to get things going in Week 8 on Thurs. July 25. There are of course no guarantees that either teams will still have a perfect record then. The Riders travel to BC Place this week to face the Lions, then host the Blue Bombers the week after. The Als welcome in the Argos this week and have a Week 7 bye in front of them before they can think about what’s shaping up to be a colossal matchup.

For now, let’s get into this week’s Power Rankings presented by AMSOIL.

» Bombers add Lucky Whitehead to practice roster
» MMQB: Roughriders make a statement
» Landry’s 5 takeaways from Week 5
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1. Montreal Alouettes (5-0)

Last Week: 1
Last Game: 30-26 win over Calgary
Next Game: Vs. Toronto, Thurs. July 11

Worth noting: The Als rolled with a little adversity in Week 5, dealing with their first fourth-quarter deficit of the season and out-scored the Stamps 18-3 to pull out the win and remain undefeated. Sitting at 5-0 for the first time in 18 years, the Als are conjuring images of those Anthony Calvillo-led teams that dominated at the turn of the century. As we await an injury update on Marc-Antoine Dequoy, the Als will get ready for a short week of work with what promises to be a frustrated opponent coming in on Thursday, in Cameron Dukes and the Argos.

logo2. Saskatchewan Roughriders (4-0)

Last Week: 2
Last Game: 30-23 win over Toronto  

Next game: At BC, Sat. July 13

Worth noting: The Riders are off to their first 4-0 start since the 2013 season and got there with Patterson filling in for Harris at quarterback. In Patterson’s first start, up against a tough Toronto defence, the expectation may have been for him to eventually make a costly mistake or two. The Riders’ defence made sure it was the other way around, forcing Cameron Dukes into a four interception night. The Riders will have already put the win behind them as this week brings a stiff challenge in a trip to BC Place and a red-hot Lions team that’s won four straight.

dynamite3. BC Lions (4-1)

Last Week: 4
Last Game: 44-28 win over Hamilton

Next game: Vs. Saskatchewan, Sat. July 13

Worth noting: Since dropping their season-opener to the Argos, the Lions have hit their groove. Vernon Adams Jr. leads the league in passing yards (752, with 11 touchdowns to one interception) and through his five games has been the league’s top-producing quarterback in four of them. The Lions looked like they had the video game on easy mode in the first half of their game against the Tiger-Cats on Sunday. Justin McInnis shone the brightest, but it feels like there are no bad fits on this Lions roster right now as it eagerly awaits the Riders and a shot at first place in the West Division.

hat4. Toronto Argonauts (2-2)

Last Week: 3
Last Game: 30-23 loss to Saskatchewan
Next game: At Montreal, Thurs. July 11

Worth noting: If things feel strange in Argos land right now, there’s a good reason. The team is on its first losing streak in almost two full years. The Argos lost back-to-back games on Aug. 12 and 20, 2022. In between that, they won the 109th Grey Cup and rattled off a 16-2 regular season in 2023. After leading the Argos to a 2-0 start, Cameron Dukes has hit a bit of a dry patch, going the last two games without throwing a touchdown while piling up five interceptions (four thrown against the Riders last week). Going into Montreal to face the undefeated Als, Dukes will have to be razor sharp if they’re to hand their rivals their first loss of the season. While we’re on the Argos we have to shout out Janarion Grant, who picked up the league’s first punt return TD of the season. Those are the kinds of plays that can turn a game in your team’s favour. Here’s hoping for more of them.

5. Calgary Stampeders (2-2)

Last Week: 5
Last game: 30-26 loss to Montreal
Next game: At Winnipeg, Fri. July 12

Worth noting: The Stamps aren’t the first to go into Montreal on a Saturday night, lose control of things and wake up full of regret on Sunday. There’s no time for the Stamps to think about what might have been — a 3-1 record and the confidence that comes from taking down an opponent on a heater at home — with a trip to Winnipeg on the schedule for Friday. Forgive us if we repeat ourselves from a couple weeks back, but this game carries a lot of weight. Friday marks the final time these teams meet this season, so a Stamps win would give them the season series. That could have big implications in October when teams are fighting for playoff positioning.

6. Edmonton Elks (0-4)

Last Week: 6
Last Game: 24-21 loss to BC (Week 4)

Next game: Vs. Ottawa, Sun. July 14

Worth noting: We try not to move teams on a bye week, which will explain why the Elks stayed where they were from a week ago, but they head into an important game — with some new pieces in the mix — as they get set to host the REDBLACKS. The Elks have suffered back-to-back last-second field goal losses and as close as the games have been, the losses are mounting. If they’re going to keep pace with the Bombers and try to climb their way up the West Division ladder, it needs to start now. The Bombers took a win from the REDBLACKS last week. Can the Elks do it this week to spark their season?

2. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (13-4)7. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1-4)

Last Week: 9
Last Game: 25-16 win over Ottawa
Next game: Vs. Calgary, Fri. July 12

Worth noting: It wasn’t the prettiest game, but we saw some of the vintage good things that the Bombers have done that made them the league’s gold standard the last few years. With a run-heavy performance — the team had an 11-play touchdown drive that came entirely on the ground — Brady Oliveira and Chris Streveler got the Bombers a desperately-needed win. Willie Jefferson was his usual disruptive self with a key forced fumble and recovery. Those factors allowed the Bombers to give their fans something to cheer about and moved them out of the cellar in the West Division. While we await a status update on Zach Collaros, (who was on the field on Monday) the Bombers get another shot at a Stamps team that they took to overtime two weeks ago.

8. Ottawa REDBLACKS (2-2)

Last Week: 7
Last Game: 25-16 loss to Winnipeg
Next game: At Edmonton, Sun. July 14

Worth noting: Dru Brown left last week’s game and with him went the punch that the REDBLACKS’ offence has had. While we await word on Brown, the REDBLACKS go into their game with the Elks knowing that they’ve got an opportunity to gain ground on one of Montreal or Toronto, with the Argos currently edging them out for second in the East. A bright spot amidst the REDBLACKS’ disappointing loss is running back Ryquell Armstead, who had 103 rushing yards and a touchdown, along with 33 receiving yards. If Brown is injured, Armstead could become a more focal point of the offence.

9. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (0-5)

Last Week: 8
Last game: 44-28 loss to BC 
Next game: Vs. Toronto, Sat. July 20

Worth noting: As good as the Ticats have looked offensively, they’re giving up too much defensively to win games. That was on full display on Sunday, as Justin McInnis, William Stanback and Alexander Hollins caught way too many passes with far too few bodies around them in a rout of a win at Tim Hortons Field. A bye week comes with likely mixed reactions. You may want to jump into the next game on the schedule to try to turn things around, but sometimes catching your breath and evaluating what’s going wrong can be very helpful. The Ticats will need to be on point when they’re back in action, with the arch-rival Argos set to come to town next Saturday.


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