3DownNation power rankings: East Division teams at opposite extremes

The 3DownNation power rankings are back for another season of CFL football.

The first game of the 2021 season doesn’t get underway until the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers play on Thursday, but we wanted to get an early look at how the league’s nine teams stack up following an extended off-season.

There are new head coaches in B.C., Edmonton, Toronto, and Ottawa and hundreds of new players who have either joined the league or switched teams since the 2019 season came to a close. Here’s our best assessment of how the clubs currently stack up, though we imagine things will shift after Week 1.

Our power rankings are created by having our contributors rank each team from No. 1 to No. 9 independently, then averaging out the scores. The previous week’s rankings are listed in brackets, though this week we’re starting from scratch.

Enjoy the rankings and feel free to roast us on Twitter for anything you feel we’ve got wrong.

Photo courtesy: Ticats.ca

1. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (-)

The Ticats are coming off the best regular season in club history and have the CFL’s undisputed best quarterback duo with Jeremiah Masoli and Dane Evans. There’s a ton of talent on the roster and an elite coaching staff on the bench, but the pressure is on as the team looks to end the league’s longest Grey Cup drought at home in December.

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

2. Calgary Stampeders (-)

Quarterback is the most important position in sports and having one as good as Bo Levi Mitchell is always cause for optimism. There are some concerns about Calgary’s receiving corps and secondary, but the team is well-coached and dominant at home. If any CFL team deserves the benefit of the doubt, it’s the Stampeders.

Photo courtesy: Johany Jutras/CFL.ca

3. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (-)

Continuity is the name of the game in Bomberland with 20 starters and most of the coaching staff back from a Grey Cup-winning season in 2019. Paul LaPolice is no longer the offensive coordinator and Andrew Harris is banged up, but it’s hard not to like Winnipeg’s chances considering other teams have had to deal with a lot more turnover.

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

4. Edmonton Elks (-)

Edmonton’s team has a new name, a new head coach, and a new cause for optimism. With Trevor Harris back to full health and an elite set of weapons at his disposal, the defence only has to be average for the Elks to win a lot of games in 2021. The team’s linebacking corps is unproven, but a strong defensive line should help alleviate their growing pains.

Photo courtesy: Saskatchewan Roughriders

5. Saskatchewan Roughriders (-)

The Green and White are coming off a 13-5 season and a first-place finish in the West Division, but injuries and opt-outs have given our contributors pause. The Riders will have to prove they can still be competitive with a young offensive line, an unproven linebacking corps, and no veteran replacement for free agent departure Charleston Hughes.

Photo courtesy: Dominick Gravel/Montreal Alouettes

6. Montreal Alouettes (-)

William Stanback has returned after pursuing the NFL in 2020, which is good news for fans in La Belle Province. Free agent additions Almondo Sewell and Nick Usher will look to ignite a much-needed pass rush, while emerging star Vernon Adams Jr. tries to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump in his second season as a starter.

Photo courtesy: B.C. Lions

7. B.C. Lions (-)

Michael Reilly took a beating in 2019, which led the team to add a new offensive coordinator in Jordan Maksymic and a new right tackle in Ryker Mathews. The club will rely almost exclusively on new talent along the defensive line, which is a big gamble in the pass-happy CFL where generating a pass-rush is key.

Photo courtesy: Toronto Argonauts

8. Toronto Argonauts (-)

Our contributors don’t seem to think very much of the way in which Toronto has overhauled its roster since 2019, adding stars like Eric Rogers, DaVaris Daniels, Charleston Hughes, Henoc Muamba, and Cameron Judge. We’ll have to wait and see if the Argos can gel quickly, though a Week 1 date in Calgary won’t make that any easier.

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

9. Ottawa Redblacks (-)

General manager Marcel Desjardins was subjected to criticism throughout the extended off-season for keeping most of the roster that went 3-15 in 2019 intact. New head coach Paul LaPolice has been tasked with invigorating an anemic offence that scored just 17.3 points per game in 2019, which was significantly fewer than the eighth-place Argos.

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