CFL Power Rankings

I've been preaching the gospel of the CFL 'round these parts for a long time, and I've realized something interesting: college football, my first and best love, I love in large part due to its copious choices: 126 FCS teams! But I love CFL in part for the opposite reason — having only nine teams makes them easy to know very well.

With all due respect to all NFL power rankers out there, who can really say whether the Lions or the Bengals were better last year?

With that, here are my power rankings for the CFL with just about 2/3 of the season behind us:

1. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (9-3) — They claim the number one spot by plying their trade in the much tougher Western Conference, and sporting a 2-1 records over the No. 2 and No. 3 teams on this list.

They win in a way that's not supposed to work in the CFL — by grinding out yards, inch-by-inch, largely on the ground and through short passes. They lost their starting quarterback, Matt Nichols, for at least six weeks (this is been a brutal year, injury-wise, for CFL starting QBs) and haven't really missed a beat.

2. Saskatchewan Roughriders (8-4) — Winnipeg's big rival gets the No. 2 slot in my rankings. They are 7-1 in their last eight, with the loss coming at Winnipeg (the Riders did hold service against the Bombers at home). Four of their last six games are against teams that are .500 or better, and the other two are on the road, so we'll see if they can hang on to this lofty spot.

3. Calgary Stampeders (8-4) — It is so very hard to choose between the Stamps and Saskatchewan for the No. 2 spot on my list. Like Saskatchewan, Calgary is red-hot, winning three in a row, which included a home-and-home sweep of their rivals Edmonton, and a win over East leading Hamilton. They beat you with unstoppable offense led by quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell and running back Ka'Deem Carey.

4. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (9-3) — Like Winnipeg, they are 9-3. Like Winnipeg, they lost their starting quarterback (Jeremiah Masoli; you may remember him from Oregon and Ole Miss). The Ti-Cats, however, have looked much worse for wear than Winnipeg since Masoli has gone down. Yes, they are 4-2 since then, but all four of those wins have come against the consensus bottom three teams in the league. Playing in the inferior East doesn't help their power ranking, but it does mean they will coast into the playoffs regardless of who is under center.

5. Montreal Alouettes (6-5) — For years, the Als have been searching for the heir apparent to Anthony Calvillo, their legendary, record-breaking, Joe Montana-esque quarterback. They seem to have finally found him in Vernon Adams, Jr. (another former Oregon signal-caller). They look to be in excellent shape for making the playoffs for the first time since 2014 (six of the nine CFL teams make the playoffs, so that's really bad).

6. Edmonton Eskimos (6-6) — Practically speaking, I don't think there is much daylight between Montreal and Edmonton. But Montreal gets the higher spot because the Esks are slumping badly. They've lost three in a row, and it doesn't get any easier, with Saskatchewan twice and Hamilton twice among their last six games. Those games against Hamilton in particular will really tell us a lot about both teams. Their QB, Trevor Harris, leads the league in passing yardage (he, too, is injured, but may be back soon) and their tailback, C.J. Gable, is second in the league in rushing. Their defense, however, has been less than stellar lately.

7. Toronto Argonauts (2-9) — There's a pretty big drop-off from No. 6 to No. 7, but the Argos have shown a little bit of fight over the last six weeks. They are 2-3 in that span, including a win over Winnipeg (!!) and a narrow loss to Montreal on a neutral field. Much of their improvement has been due to the maturation of signal-caller MacLeod Bethel-Thompson, who got his trial by fire due to an injury to incumbent QB James Franklin.

8. British Columbia Lions (2-10) — The knock on the Lions have been the same all year — they paid a king's ransom to sign free agent quarterback Mike Reilly (the league's Most Outstanding Player in 2017) and put no pieces around him. Specifically, their pass-blocking has been atrocious, Reilly has been sacked an ungodly number of times, and yet somehow, he's just about the only quarterback not to miss time due to injury this year. I do note that three of their last four losses were one-score losses, but they didn't necessarily feel very close.

9 Ottawa Redblacks (3-9) — Hoo boy. This team is adrift. Their last four games: blowout loss, blowout loss, blowout loss, and blowout loss. Those last two were to Toronto and BC. Why? Chief among the reasons, their quarterbacks, Jonathan Jennings and Dominique Davis, have been terrible. They get to try again at home against BC this weekend. Slumps end and hot streaks end, but still, it's hard to see where another win is coming for this team that was in the Grey Cup just last year, and won it three years ago.

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