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Inside the CFL: Power rankings

By Ted Michaels, CFL Columnist

Hamilton, ON (Sports Network) - Halfway through the regular season already?

Time for most teams to jockey for playoff positions. For two teams though, it's a case of how long after the season ends, will the coaches be fired?

1. Saskatchewan Roughriders (8-1)

The Riders got off to a slow start in the first half of a home-and-home series with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. After trailing 18-14 at the half, they turned on the jets in the final 30 minutes, for a convincing 48-25 win. With Darian Durant throwing for over 300 yards, and the defense virtually shutting down the Bombers offense, it's another step closer to getting what they want ... a first place bye and one win away from playing in the Grey Cup they happen to be hosting. However, if they don't calm cornerback Dwight Anderson down (again) it may be for naught. The loose cannon almost got tossed out of the game after another tirade at an official. Rider fans better pray he keeps his calm in a playoff game.

2.�Calgary Stampeders (7-2)

The Labor Day Classic was just that, a 37-34 win over the Eskimos. However, as much as the Stamps offense led 30-7 after three quarters, the defense gave up 27 points in the fourth quarter. Starting quarterback Kevin Glenn's injury wasn't a factor, because Bo Levi Mitchell was effective in a relief role. Maurice Price's career game, three touchdowns on five catches and 165 yards receiving, shows yet another weapon for Calgary. Might want to circle October 26 on the calendar. That's the rubber match of the Stampeder-Rider series. That will probably mean, whoever wins that one, wins the west.

3. BC Lions (6-3)

The Lions beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 29-26 Friday night, and for the first time this season, Travis Lulay threw for over 300 yards, (359). However, the Lions defense gave up over 400 yards, and, if it wasn't for several blown calls from referee Andre Proulx and his crew, the Lions would have suffered their first loss at home this year. A win is a win, but, let's see if the Lions can play as well, or better, in the return match of a home-and-home set with the Tiger-Cats this weekend.

4.�Toronto Argonauts (5-4)

Argo fans better hope Ricky Ray gets back soon. The Argos looked horrible in a 20-9 home loss to the Montreal Alouettes. Ray is out for at least six weeks with an injured shoulder, and his replacement, Zach Collaros, the former Cincinnati Bearcat, completed 21-for-32 for 261 yards and a touchdown, but he threw an interception and fumbled once. Toss in the fact that starting running back Chad Kackert is still injured, and Chad Owens was pounded to a pulp, and all of a sudden, the collars may be getting a little tighter. The Argos' next four games are all on the road: Montreal, Saskatchewan, Calgary and Edmonton. They don't have a home game until October 4 against Hamilton. Lose three of those games, and the Argos may have a home playoff date all right, but, it'll be the east semifinal.

5. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (4-5)

One big play cost the Tiger-Cats a win in BC ... an 80-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Arceneaux, thanks to a busted coverage. CJ Gable is starting to give the Tabbies the running game they were lacking, and slotback Greg Ellingson is a shoo-in for Hamilton's rookie of the year nomination. The secondary, which was the number one concern at the start of the year, took a step back in the loss to BC. Still, they showed that they can play with the upper echelon teams in the CFL, and a win Saturday against the Lions, means .500 with eight games left. And, after a shaky start, most Hamilton fans will take that.

6. Montreal Alouettes (4-5)

Tanner Marsh, the Arkansas Tech product, made his first CFL start a memorable one. He completed 18-27 for 309 yards and one touchdown in the 20-9 win over the Argos. But, he'll have to do that on a consistent basis, because on Wednesday, the Alouettes announced that veteran starter Anthony Calvillo has been put on the nine-game injured list, due to a concussion. Marsh brings one thing to the table that Calvillo doesn't, namely wheels. With an offensive line that's banged up, those wheels may have to be used a lot. And, the defense will have to step up if Marsh falters. The Als are 2-2 since GM Jim Popp took over as head coach. The East, all of a sudden is wide open. You wonder, come playoff time, if Calvillo will ever see the field again.

7. Edmonton Eskimos (1-8)

Bad enough the team lost on Labor Day. Bad enough the team is 1-8. Now, Eskimos fans have seen the ugly side of GM Ed Hervey. He came out firing on Tuesday, saying he wasn't happy with the offense, in effect throwing coordinator Doug Sams under the bus, then added he wanted the defense to attack more, not the "play 12 yards off the ball" defense he's seen, again, in effect throwing coordinator Greg Marshall under the bus. He added that as far as head coach Kavis Reed's future, "Kavis will coach the rest of the season. And then we will evaluate." And for good measure, he called out offensive guard Simeon Rottier. "For our football team to have success we have to have a healthy (quarterback) Mike Reilly. I'm done watching Mike Reilly take a pounding. Clearly Simeon has not lived up to expectations. It would not bother me if Simeon did not play a down this year." The twitter world was ablaze after those comments, almost all condemning Hervey, who consistently talked all offseason about the "Eskimo way." Somewhere, Warren Moon is shaking his head.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (1-8)

In the loss to the Riders on the Labor Day weekend, several things were apparent. No quarterback. No talent. No hope. The Blue Bombers held a closed- door tryout session this week, with several defensive backs among the hopefuls. Can't be any worse than what they have right now. Hope Tim Burke enjoys his last nine weeks as Blue Bombers head coach. Hope that interim CEO Wade Miller and interim GM Kyle Walters have lots of aspirin. What a mess.

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

Comments? Criticism? Applause?

09/04 23:20:51 ET


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