We have officially reached the most highly-anticipated week of the CFL’s regular season. Ottawa and Montreal will kick things off on Friday, followed by the traditional Labour Day rivalries of Winnipeg and Saskatchewan, Toronto and Hamilton, and Edmonton and Calgary on the weekend. Here’s how we see those teams stacking up ahead of the intense action.
3DownNation’s power rankings are created by having eleven of our contributors rank each team from No. 1 to No. 9 independently, then averaging out the scores. The previous week’s rankings are in brackets.
Enjoy the rankings and feel free to roast us on Twitter for anything you think we got wrong.
1. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1)
The Blue Bombers held onto our top spot after completing the season sweep over the visiting Calgary Stampeders, putting themselves in a great spot to clinch the West Division. The biggest concern in Bomberland is the health of a number of key players as Demerio Houston and Brady Oliveira left Friday’s victory due to injury, while star receiver Greg Ellingson remains on the six-game injured list.
2. Calgary Stampeders (3)
There’s a new Maier in Calgary and he breathed life into the team’s offence in a close loss to Winnipeg. The Stampeders may barely be above .500 but they’re showing signs of improvement and have a soft schedule coming up with four games against Edmonton and the Nathan Rourke-less B.C. Lions. The club will also have a fresh look this week as they’ve already teased some new black alternate jerseys.
3. Toronto Argonauts (6)
The Boatmen sailed three spots up our rankings mostly due to the strength of a defence that generated six takeaways and four sacks in a big win over Hamilton. McLeod Bethel-Thompson became the team’s fourth all-time leading passer and threw for a season-high three touchdowns, though he downplayed his success post-game. If Toronto can figure out how to run the ball, they could lock up the East Division sooner than later.
4. Saskatchewan Roughriders (5)
Saskatchewan got back in the win column, outclassing the diminished B.C. Lions on the road. Cody Fajardo had a much-needed confidence-builder, completing 79.2 percent of his passes for 321 yards and two touchdowns along with six carries for 38 yards. The win was only enough to move the Riders up one spot in our rankings, but a victory over Winnipeg in this week’s Labour Day Classic would surely garner more favour from our voters.
5. B.C. Lions (2)
The Lions failed to prove they are still a powerhouse without franchise quarterback Nathan Rourke as they were thoroughly outplayed at home by Saskatchewan. Michael O’Connor and Antonio Pipkin struggled under centre, leading the offence to only 251 total yards and one late touchdown, while the defence allowed Cody Fajardo to throw for 300 yards for the first time since Week 1.
6. Montreal Alouettes (4)
The Alouettes fell two spots while on a bye this past week, which probably isn’t fair considering they’ve won two straight games. Montreal is entering a three-game homestand against Ottawa, B.C., and Hamilton, which means we may see that winning streak continue over the coming weeks.
7. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (7)
Dane Evans was a disappointment in his first start in three weeks, throwing three interceptions and losing a fumble in a 17-point loss in the Battle of Ontario. He claimed responsibility for the loss and it remains unclear whether or not he’ll start again in the Labour Day Classic as Matthew Shiltz left the game with a wrist injury. At 3-8, the Ticats simply can’t afford another loss this week against the Argos.
8. Ottawa Redblacks (9)
The Redblacks won for just the eighth time in three seasons, generating five takeaways in a 25-18 victory at Commonwealth Stadium. Nick Arbuckle wasn’t perfect in his first start with the team but he did enough to help his team win, completing 65.6 percent of his passes for 219 and avoiding any turnovers. Ottawa is still four points out of a playoff spot in the East Division, but this is the CFL — anything can happen.
9. Edmonton Elks (8)
Edmonton had a chance to end a miserable home losing streak spanning well over 1,000 days and failed to do so against a one-win opponent. Yikes. If the Elks lose one more home game, they’ll tie the CFL’s all-time record of 14 consecutive home losses set by the Ottawa Rough Riders (1987-88). Kenny Lawler gave fans their only reasons to cheer, making two highlight-reel grabs to finish with three catches for 146 yards.