MOP Watch: Back-to-back rivalry wins put Bombers in top two spots

Photo courtesy: CFL

Everybody loves an encore, but when the dust settled on a weekend of rivalry rematches in the CFL, only the Winnipeg Blue Bombers were happy with their second set.

The reigning Grey Cup champs continue to be the toast of the CFL and after stomping the Riders in a physical Banjo Bowl, that is reflected in the MOP race.

Every week of the 2021 season, the 3DownNation trio of Justin Dunk, John Hodge and J.C. Abbott will vote for their top ten MOP candidates. Those rankings are aggregated and averaged to create a list of the top nine players in the mix for the trophy.

Each player will have their “last week” ranking listed beside their name, indicating the position that they held on the list the previous week.

A whopping four Blue Bombers make an appearance on our nine player list this week, including each of our top two players.

Photo courtesy: CFL

1. Zach Collaros, QB, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (last week: 1)

There was absolutely no stopping the Winnipeg offence in the Banjo Bowl and that has Collaros maintaining his top spot from the Labour Day weekend. The new MOP favourite threw for 278 yards and two touchdowns in Week 6, placing him second and first in each of those categories this season.

Photo courtesy: Winnipeg Blue Bombers

2. Willie Jefferson, DE, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (last week: 4)

The reigning Most Outstanding Defensive Player had a slow start to the season by his standards, but has brought the smoke the past two weeks. He was a quarterback’s nightmare in the Banjo Bowl, making three tackle, two sacks and a forced fumble.

Photo courtesy: B.C. Lions/Darryl Dyck

3. Lucky Whitehead, REC, B.C. Lions (last week: not ranked)

Lucky surprisingly dropped out of our rankings during B.C.’s bye week, but he stormed back in in a big way against Ottawa. 82 yards through the air place him third in CFL receiving yard, but it was his incredible 119-yard missed field goal return touchdown and unique pre-game outfit that earned the biggest headlines.

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

4. James Wilder Jr., RB, Edmonton Elks (last week: 3)

The Elks’ offence earned some well-deserved booing after a disappointing showing at home, but Wilder Jr. remains in the thick of the MOP race. He had 62 yards on 11 carries against Calgary and still leads the CFL in rushing by more than 80 yards.

Photo courtesy: B.C. Lions/Darryl Dyck

5. Michael Reilly, QB, B.C. Lions (last week: not ranked)

A lack of passing touchdowns had been holding Michael Reilly back in MOP voting, but he solved that issue with a 319-yard, four touchdown outing at home. He only had four incompletions against Ottawa, though one was also his first interception of the season.

Photo courtesy: Edmonton Elks

6. Kamar Jorden, REC, Calgary Stampeders (last week: not ranked)

Once told he might never play football again, a fully healthy Kamar Jorden has returned to climb into the CFL receiving lead and quietly enter MOP consideration. He had a remarkable 12 catches for 159 yards in Calgary’s rematch win in Edmonton, adding the 50-yard touchdown with 20 seconds left that secured the Stampeders a playoff tie-break.

Photo courtesy: CFL

7. Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (last week: 5)

Falling into Willie Jefferson’s shadow once again, another sack in the Banjo Bowl puts Jackson Jeffcoat tied for the league lead with five. His remarkable four forced fumbles continue to be the best in the league by a mile.

Photo courtesy: Jeff Vinnick/B.C. Lions

8. Bryan Burnham, REC, B.C. Lions (last week: 6)

Burnham is fifth in CFL receiving with one fewer outing than most of his rivals, but produced two more mind-boggling scores for his highlight reel. He battled through pass interference to haul in a deep score in the first quarter, then broke four tackles for a short screen score in the fourth, finishing with five catches for 72 yards on the evening.

Photo courtesy: Winnipeg Blue Bombers

9. Kenny Lawler, REC, Winnipeg Blue Bombers (last week: not ranked)

Drops have been an issue for the CFL’s second leading receiver, but the Bombers will have no concerns about Lawler after the Banjo Bowl. He caught five passes for 97 yards against Saskatchewan, hauling in a spectacular touchdown catch late to pour salt in the Riders wound.

Also receiving votes: Cody Fajardo (SSK — LW: 2), Frankie Williams ( HAM — LW: 9), Vernon Adams Jr. (MTL), Adam Bighill (WPG), William Stanback (MTL), Jake Wieneke (MTL — LW: 8)

Dropping out of the rankings: Trevor Harris (EDM — LW: 7)