Inside the CFL: Power rankings
By Ted Michaels, CFL Columnist
Hamilton, ON (Sports Network) - The last third of the regular season schedule is upon us, and the jockeying for playoff position is underway. It's also known as the fun part of the regular season.
1. Calgary Stampeders (9-3)
For the first time this season, the Stampeders lost at home, a 33-27 setback to the Toronto Argonauts. The Stamps took penalties at inopportune times, their pass defense was shoddy on two Toronto touchdowns and quarterback Kevin Glenn, despite completing 22-of-33 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns, threw two key interceptions. Still, they have the best record in the CFL right now, and deserve to be on the top of the heap.
2. Toronto Argonauts (8-4)
So much for the angst of Argos fans because starting quarterback Ricky Ray is out with a shoulder injury. Zach Collaros continues to show why he may be selected by the expansion Ottawa RedBlacks in upcoming expansion draft. Collaros showed poise, completing 25-of-36 passes for 330 yards and four touchdowns in the win over Calgary. What's more impressive is the fact that the Argos have won three games in a row, all on the road, in places where it's not easy to win ... Montreal, Saskatchewan and Calgary. Looming for the Argos is a home-and-home series with the second-place Tiger-Cats. Win one of those two and the Argos may be hosting the Eastern Final.
3. BC Lions (8-4)
The Lions scored an impressive 24-22 win over Saskatchewan at Mosaic Stadium. In his first pro start, another backup quarterback, Thomas DeMarco, replacing the injured Travis Lulay calmly moved the team downfield for the winning field goal from Paul McCallum. Down by one point with 31 seconds left and the ball on the BC 44, DeMarco moved the Lions to the Saskatchewan 35 to set up the winning 42-yard field goal.
4. Saskatchewan Roughriders (8-4)
On the other hand, the Riders have now lost three in a row and the tension is starting to build on the prairies. "We've got to get back to playing good football," Saskatchewan head coach Corey Chamblin said after the game. Darian Durant completed 35-of-52 throws for 326 yards and two touchdowns. However, it's obvious that injured starting tailback Kory Sheets is sorely missed. His replacement, Chris Garrett, ran for just 30 yards and coughed up the ball once as well. What once looked like a possible first-place finish and a bye in the semifinals, now looks to be a struggle to finish second.
5. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (6-6)
Have to give head coach Ken Austin credit. After a disappointing loss in Calgary, Austin told Fifth Quarter listeners that he was going to "fix the kicking problem." It appears, at least for one game, he did. He replaced veteran kicker Luca Congi with rookie Brett Lauther. All Lauther did was go 4- for-4 on field goals, and the special teams kick coverage, which was shoddy in Calgary, was much better as the Tiger-Cats beat the Alouettes, 28-26, in Moncton, New Brunswick. Throw in the fact the defense is playing a lot better than it was at the start of the year, and it's no wonder that the word is spreading -- the Argos don't want to meet in Tiger-Cats in the playoffs.
6. Montreal Alouettes (4-8)
The Als missed a glorious opportunity to move into a second-place tie with the Tiger-Cats when they lost 28-26 in Moncton. Yet another first-year player, Josh Neiswander, who was replacing the injured Tanner Marsh, who was replacing Anthony Calvillo, who's out with a concussion, had a pretty good debut. Neiswander completed 26-of-36 passes for 294 yards and two touchdowns. You never want to lose to a division rival, and now, the Alouettes have another concern ... the cross-over.
7. Edmonton Eskimos (3-9)
Call it lucky, or call it a total collapse by an opponent, but the Eskimos won their second in a row Friday night, beating the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in overtime, 35-27. At one point, the Eskimos were down 20-0. Mike Reilly has taken ownership of the Eskimos offense, completing 31-of-46 passes for 418 yards and a touchdown. Keep in mind, if a fourth-place team in one division has more points than the third-place in the other division, the fourth-place team crosses over to make the playoffs. Is it possible the Eskimos could overtake Montreal and cross over to meet the Tiger-Cats in the Eastern semifinal?
8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2-10)
As noted, you blow a 20-0 lead at home, in front of a less than capacity crowd at a new stadium, you have a defensive back (Demond Washington) who, on the key play in the game, chooses to go for an interception instead of knocking the ball down, thereby deflecting it into the hands of Edmonton's Fred Stamps, who takes it 51 yards to set up the game-tying field goal, and you have a quarterback carousel, it's no wonder the Blue Bombers are where they are.
"And with the first overall pick of 2014 CFL Draft, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers select ..."
Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter on AM900 CHML. Comments? Criticism? Applause?
09/23 13:22:42 ET