Ah training camp, that time of year where every team is 0-0 and hope springs eternal – even in Montreal (but who are we kidding.) With the off-season behind us and something akin to labour peace, the 2019 CFL season is shaping up to be quite an interesting affair.
So let’s get a sense of where things stand.
Remember, we do our power rankings by having seven 3Down contributors (Edwards, Dunk, Hodge, Filoso, Ballantine, Gasson, Smith) rank the teams from No. 1 to No. 9. The team with the fewest “points” gets the top ranking, the second fewest is No. 2 and so on.
Here we go.
- Winnipeg Blue Bombers (formerly No. 2)
The Bombers have most of their key contributors back from last season (including their starting and back up quarterbacks), continuity in the front office and coaching staff and solid base of Canadian talent. With questions in Calgary, Winnipeg is the team to beat in the West (at least for now.)
2. Calgary Stampeders (1)
No Micah Johnson, no Alex Singleton, no Ciante Evans… no problem? The champs lost a bunch of guys on defence and depth at receiver but still have Bo Levi Mitchell at quarterback and John Hufnagel’s ability to find players. Both will be tested again this season.
3. B.C. Lions (3)
With Wally Buono gone, general manager Ed Hervey has remade the Lions with a new coach (DeVone Claybrooks) a new QB (Mike Reilly) and a massive roster turnover. Talented, yes. But how fast and how well they come together will dictate the Lions’ fortunes.
4. Hamilton (4)
The top-ranked team in the East has a lot of talent, an established QB, a new coach and the advantage of competing against divisional rivals loaded with question marks.
5. Saskatchewan (6)
The Riders are loaded on defence and they just signed a punter so that’s good news. But there are question marks at quarterback and it remains to be seen whether the departure of Chris Jones robs this team of its swashbuckling mentality.
6. Edmonton (5)
The Esks are trying to re-load on the fly after losing franchise star Mike Reilly to B.C. and this seems like a make-or-break year for general manager Brock Sunderland and head coach Jason Maas. Oh, and the West Division is going to be tough as hell.
7. Toronto (8)
Welcome to the bottom of the power rankings, otherwise known as most of the East Division. There’s some optimism around new head coach Corey Chamblin and a sense that maybe James Franklin could be good. Releasing starting Canadian offensive tackles (Chris Van Zeyl) on the eve of training camp not so good, however.
8. Ottawa (7)
With Trevor Harris in Edmonton, the QB battle in Ottawa features the largely untested Dom Davis and the perpetual underperformer Jon Jennings. GM Marcel Desjardins was right about the cap not going up by much but the talent exodus could still hurt.
9. Montreal (9)
The No. 9-ranked team begins the season where they ended it and will need some sustained success to get the stink of their perpetual basement dwelling off their fancy new uniforms.