3DownNation CFL power rankings: reigning Grey Cup champs claim top spot

Photo: Reuben Polansky/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

Week 1 of the CFL season is in the books, causing massive changes to our power rankings.

Granted, it’s been a long time since we released our power rankings as we didn’t publish any last week, which was for strictly editorial reasons — and definitely not because we forgot. From here on out, be sure to check back every Monday morning for our updated power rankings following each week of action in the CFL.

3DownNation’s power rankings are created by having twelve contributors rank each team from No. 1 to No. 9 independently, then averaging out the scores. The previous week’s rankings — in this case, our post-free agency edition — are in brackets.

Enjoy the rankings and feel free to roast us on Twitter — yes, we still call it “Twitter” — for anything you think we got wrong.

Photo: Neil Noonan/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

1) Montreal Alouettes (3)

It seems we’ve all underrated the reigning Grey Cup champions yet again, as they looked more dominant in their dismantling of Winnipeg than they ever did last season. After stealing the title last November with his last-minute touchdown, Most Valuable Canadian and former first-round draft pick Tyson Philpot had another outstanding performance, notching 10 catches for 141 yards and a pair of scores. Still, Noel Thorpe’s stifling defence did most of the heavy lifting to hold the Blue Bombers out of the end zone for 59 minutes. Unfortunately, that unit will be without their top rookie from last year as Reggie Stubblefield tore his ACL.

Photo courtesy: Toronto Argonauts

2) Toronto Argonauts (1)

The Boatmen were without Chad Kelly, the CFL’s reigning Most Outstanding Player, against the consensus Grey Cup favourite B.C. Lions but still pulled off an impressive upset at home. Cameron Dukes completed 21-of-27 pass attempts for 254 yards and three touchdowns in the win, hitting Ka’Deem Carey, Rasheed Bailey, and Dejon Brissett for scores. The team’s most impressive unit, however, was the defence as Toronto got home for six sacks, including two from third-year defensive tackle Jared Brinkman. The Argonauts are heading into a bye week but opposing offences have officially been put on notice.

Photo courtesy: Tiffany Luke /B.C. Lions

3) B.C. Lions (4)

Vernon Adams Jr. threw for 363 yards and two touchdowns in his season debut, though he also threw an interception, lost a fumble, and got stuffed on third-and-short. An even bigger concern than the turnovers was B.C.’s lack of pass protection as Adams was sacked six times, taking some hellacious hits that have led critics to question if he’ll stay healthy all season. The Lions scored a defensive touchdown as Tibo Debaillie returned a fumble 20 yards for the score, though the unit will have to do a better job of containing the passer as Cameron Dukes ran for 37 yards and a score.

Photo: Larry MacDougal/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

4) Saskatchewan Roughriders (5)

It took about three quarters to work out the kinks but the Roughriders proved to be a more resilient squad than the last two seasons, securing head coach Corey Mace his first career victory. Trevor Harris looked poised in his return to action after a tibial plateau fracture last year but receiver Shawn Bane Jr. was the undisputed hero, toasting Edmonton for 125 yards and three scores. The team’s priority will be ensuring penalty issues don’t derail their progress, as homegrown guard Logan Ferland was ejected during what was an undisciplined affair overall.

Photo: Neil Noonan/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

5) Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2)

It was more than microchips in the footballs that made the Blue Bombers look out of sorts in their season opener, as the CFL’s prevailing powerhouse came out utterly flat at home for perhaps the first time in their near dynastic run. Brady Oliveira was held to a measly 38 yards on the ground, Zach Collaros looked rusty for most of the night, and the defence struggled without leader Adam Bighill. There will be growing pains as Winnipeg goes younger at several positions, but this was a troubling start — particularly with Kenny Lawler headed to the injured list.

Photo: Larry MacDougal/3DownNation. All rights reserved.

6) Calgary Stampeders (7)

Facing off against a franchise legend didn’t seem to faze the Stampeders in Week 1, as Jake Maier completed 80.7 percent of his passes and averaged 9.7 yards per attempt in a highly efficient performance. Of course, in typical Calgary fashion, it still took six field goals from Rene Paredes to secure the victory on a night during which they were outgained by nearly 100 yards. The two-headed running game of Dedrick Mills and B.J. Emmons performed as expected but there could be concern for a receiving corps already missing Malik Henry, as neither Cameron Echols nor Marken Michel finished the game.

Photo courtesy: Scott Grant/CFLPhotoArchive.com

7) Ottawa Redblacks (6)

The Redblacks kicked off their tenth anniversary season with a bye week, meaning we won’t get a chance to see their Dru Brown-led offence in action until Thursday when they host Winnipeg. The air of mystery surrounding the team means expectations remain high in the nation’s capital following plenty of off-season change and an undefeated preseason. It’s almost enough to make you shotgun a frothy beverage in celebration, though the franchise now has a bobblehead to do that for you.

Photo courtesy: CFL

8) Edmonton Elks (9)

It is unclear who was a bigger embarrassment to the city of Edmonton on Saturday: the Elks or the Oilers. Despite some promising production from new quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who threw for 336 yards in his Elks debut, Edmonton fumbled away the game late and surrendered 21 points in the fourth quarter. Chris Jones’ latest loss came on an afternoon reserved for celebrating 75 years of Green and Gold excellence, which won’t help lure fans into the echoey confines of Commonwealth Stadium.

Photo courtesy: Hamilton Tiger-Cats

9) Hamilton Tiger-Cats (8)

As far as teams starting 0-1 go, Hamilton was in a better mood than most after their loss to Calgary. Bo Levi Mitchell had an “encouraging” return to McMahon Stadium in the eyes of his coach, throwing for 300 yards and showing surprising mobility. Running back James Butler also looked like a beast in a dominant outing on the ground, but bad drops in the receiving corps and defensive busts by an inexperienced secondary proved to be the difference. The Tiger-Cats will be looking to crawl out of the basement next week when they host Saskatchewan.