CW 35
Stay Connected: Contact Us
CW 35 on Facebook
CW 35 Twitter
CW 35 Twitter
Canadian Football League

Inside the CFL: Power rankings

By Ted Michaels, CFL Columnist

Hamilton, ON (Sports Network) - Seven weeks into the schedule already? The Labor Day weekend, the unofficial start to the second half of the season, is fast approaching. And for two teams, their season could be over by that point.

1. Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-1)

Good teams find a way to win, and that was the case Saturday afternoon when the Riders beat the Montreal Alouettes, 24-21, at Mosaic Stadium.

Saskatchewan quarterback Darian Durant gave himself a mark of "F" after the game. Durant, who struggled throughout, completed just 18-of-32 passes for 250 yards, including a long 65-yard TD pass to Taj Smith that tied the game at 21 with 62 seconds left in regulation.

The ensuing two-and-out by the Als offense resulted in a 38-yard punt return by Weston Dressler, and two plays later a Chris Milo field goal ended the game.

For the first time this season, running back Kory Sheets was held to less than 100 yards rushing with 74.

It may not have been a classic, but in the end, a win is a win and it keeps the Riders on top of the pack.

2.�Toronto Argonauts (5-2)

Make it four wins in a row for the Argos, who are slowly rounding into the form that made them the Grey Cup champions in 2012.

The Argos beat the Edmonton Eskimos, 36-33, and once again, quarterback Ricky Ray was the difference.

At one point Ray completed 17 straight passes, which tied an Argos club record. Overall he was good on 30-of-35 passes for 413 yards and three touchdowns. Ray continues to be red-hot and right now is the best pivot in the CFL.

The win moved the Argos four points up on the second-place Hamilton Tiger- Cats. Win six of their final 11 games and that should be good enough to clinch first place and a bye.

3. BC Lions (5-2)

In what some of the Lions called a playoff game, the Calgary Stampeders came into BC Place and lost 26-22.

BC, struggling somewhat heading into the game, had some of its question marks answered. The offense got back on track, the defense held Stamps running back Jon Cornish to just 73 yards rushing and Tim Brown scored a touchdown on a 97- yard kickoff return.

As quarterback Travis Lulay pointed out after the game, "big win. At this point in the year, none bigger."

However, there's one area of concern to this correspondent ... the uniforms.

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Lions franchise, BC wore what's described as Gunmetal-gray jerseys.

The new uniforms have black textured numbers outlined in orange and similar colored pants with orange piping down the sides, topped off by a matte-black helmet featuring the club's original orange paw logo and you can't see the numbers at all.

Think of Darth Vader, or the Oregon Ducks.

Methinks they're brutal.

4. Calgary Stampeders (5-2)

With that loss in Vancouver, the Stampeders are now 1-1 against the Lions in the season series with two games to come.

To make matters worse, slotback Nik Lewis will probably miss at least six weeks after suffering a broken fibula when he was tackled by linebacker Soloman Elimimian.

Try as hard as they could, the Stamps couldn't rally around Lewis, the team's leading receiver.

Now they stay on the road and will play in Toronto on Friday night in a Grey Cup rematch. Win that one and they're in good shape, as they prepare for the Labor Day Classic at home against the Edmonton Eskimos.

5. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (3-4)

Coaches never like to use injuries as an excuse, but in the case of the Tiger- Cats, Kent Austin could be given the benefit of the doubt.

At one point, the Tabbies had at least 20 players on the injured list, and that was one of the reasons why the team got off to a 1-4 start.

But in the last two weeks, they won on the road; in Edmonton before the bye and 37-18 in Winnipeg last week.

The Henry Burris-led offense is piling up some impressive aerial numbers and the ground game is starting to be effective. Defensively, they're starting to get the pressure on the quarterback that was lacking early in the season.

Still, some are wondering just how good this team is, or can be. After hosting the Blue Bombers again this week, the Tiger-Cats play back-to-back games against the BC Lions. After those two games, we'll get a better answer.

6. Montreal Alouettes (2-5)

Bad enough for Als fans that their team is now 0-2 since GM Jim Popp took over as head coach, but a fear that many had may have come to fruition.

That fear? That quarterback Anthony Calvillo stayed at the dance too long.

The 41 year-old veteran suffered a concussion in the loss to the Riders. His blank look when he sat on the bench, and his admission afterward that he still had a headache, doesn't bode well. The whispers that his play had declined this season have turned into loud conversations.

For the immediate future, Josh Neiswander may be the starting quarterback. Neiswander completed 12-of-30 passes for 147 yards and two interceptions in his CFL debut at quarterback.

Throw in the fact that receiver Brandon London took a helmet-to-helmet hit from Saskatchewan safety Tyron Brackenridge which knocked him out of the game, and linebacker Kyries Hebert was also knocked out of the game on the same drive, plus offensive lineman Josh Bourke suffering a knee injury, and all of a sudden the injury bug is hitting the Als hard.

Popp has always been great at finding talent. He'll really need to step up now.

7. Edmonton Eskimos (1-6)

Normally, when a quarterback throws for 511 yards his team should win.

That wasn't the case for the Eskimos in Toronto. Mike Reilly completed 35- of-46 throws for 511 yards and three touchdowns as the Eskimos lost their fifth consecutive game, 36-33, to the Argos. Any other game, any other time, and Edmonton would have won.

But running into red-hot Ricky Ray meant another frustrating loss for the Eskimos.

Now they have to play Saskatchewan, then the Calgary Stampeders back-to-back.

Are they getting better? Yes. But when they finally start to win, will it be too late?

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1-6)

So, in the last two weeks the Blue Bombers have demoted starting quarterback Buck Pierce to No. 3 and announced that Justin Goltz would be the starter, thus upsetting Pierce.

Then, last week they announced that Alex Hall would get the start, upsetting Goltz.

Also, they fired their president and CEO, Garth Buchko, as well as GM Joe Mack, and brought in former Tiger-Cat head coach Marcel Bellefeuille as an offensive consultant. Then, after the 37-18 loss to Hamilton, fired offensive coordinator Gary Crowton and appointed Bellefeuille to the role.

Is it any wonder the most popular place in the new Investors Group Field is the Rum Hut?

Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter on AM900 CHML.

Comments? Criticism? Applause?

08/19 11:53:55 ET