Training camps are done, final cuts have been made, and it is finally time to play meaningful football in the CFL. It has been more than two weeks since we released our first rankings of 2023, but the preseason has shifted the balance of power in favour of a couple of felines.
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 Bombers will live at the top of this list until there is meaningful evidence to the contrary and not even losing star receiver Kenny Lawler to an immigration-imposed suspension can make them lose their shine. As long as two-time reigning Most Outstanding Player Zach Collaros is slinging the rock and Mike O’Shea is patrolling the sideline, all the rest is just window-dressing.
2) Hamilton Tiger-Cats (3)
While we only got a sneak peek at their revamped roster in preseason, our contributors are sold on the new-look Ticats. Bo Levi Mitchell made the most of his debut in black and gold, but the question remains as to how quickly all their talented new faces can gel. If it is with any degree of rapidity, a double-digit win season is a realistic possibility.
3) B.C. Lions (5)
Preseason success might not mean much in the long run but when an experienced veteran quarterback says he has never felt more comfortable in his CFL career, you take notice. Vernon Adams Jr. was perfect — literally — in his lone preseason appearance and appears more than ready to take up the mantle left by Nathan Rourke. The team around him remains largely intact from last season, save for a new running back in Taquan Mizzell and the return of Mike Benevides as a special teams consultant.
4) Toronto Argonauts (2)
The defending Grey Cup champions are officially Chad Kelly’s team and the excitement is palpable, though our contributors might be having some second thoughts after a winless preseason. That wasn’t the quarterback’s fault, however, as Kelly looked as advertised despite a brief elbow-tightness scare. With the team celebrating its 150th anniversary with a bold new look, this could be the dawn of a new era in more ways than one.
5) Calgary Stampeders (4)
Jake Maier is entering his first year as the Stampeders’ face of the franchise, but he completed just one pass for six yards this preseason. That doesn’t give fans much to assuage their concerns after he was benched in last year’s West Semi-Final, and the release of popular left tackle Derek Dennis isn’t making anyone feel better. Luckily, Ka’Deem Carey remains in the backfield to shoulder the burden once again.
6) Saskatchewan Roughriders (6)
Take it from quarterback Trevor Harris, the Riders’ undefeated preseason doesn’t mean a thing. That’s not to say the team didn’t check a few boxes, however, as Harris lived up to the billing in his debut and new offensive coordinator Kelly Jeffrey’s offence looked promising. Both will have to deliver if the current regime of head coach Craig Dickenson and general manager Jeremy O’Day are to have their expiring contracts renewed.
7) Ottawa Redblacks (7)
Ottawa might be the hardest team to get a read on in the entire CFL, namely because of the uncertainty around quarterback Jeremiah Masoli’s health. The star pivot didn’t play all preseason and may not be ready for Week 1, though the team has a functional backup in Nick Arbuckle. All-star cornerback Money Hunter and receiver Shaq Evans are both expected to miss significant time, throwing a wrench into the turnaround plans.
8) Edmonton Elks (8)
It appears that no amount of spending on receivers will convince our writers of an Elks’ resurgence, at least not until they win a home game. After wrapping up their preseason over a week ago, Edmonton still has quite a few question marks including their kicking game and has taken care not to get caught looking ahead.
9) Montreal Alouettes (9)
Undefeated preseason? Pffft, who cares? Montreal still has too many offensive concerns to rise any higher on this list until Cody Fajardo and his crew of unproven receivers can prove their ability in a game that actually counts. Until then, we’ll sit back and enjoy some Our Lady Peace.