TORONTO — As we take our first steps into Week 9 of the CFL season, we’re clear on the one thing that hasn’t changed at all yet. This is still the world of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and we all live in it.
For now at least. The Bombers pulled off (yet) another impressive win in Week 8, entering McMahon Stadium and erasing a fourth-quarter deficit to the Stamps, prevailing 35-28 to improve to 8-0.
That extends the Bombers’ lead in the West (16 points) over the BC Lions (10 points) and Stamps (eight points), giving them breathing room for the day they finally suffer a regular-season loss and bring the part bottom of your feet at least a little closer to the ground.
About the Lions and Stamps: They’ve both been eliminated by the Bombers this season, but they’re as close to them as anyone in the league right now. These three teams make up the cream of the CFL policing at the moment and that is reflected in this week’s Power Rankings.
However, something interesting is starting to happen in the remaining spots, 4th through 9th. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Ottawa REDBLACKS picked up wins over their Eastern rivals in Week 9, and suddenly that slow-starting division is gone. feel available. The Argos and Ticats are about to see each other four times in five weeks and the Als will see the Ticats two more times in the next six weeks.
Out west, the Edmonton Elks are back in action this week and are testing the Saskatchewan Roughriders 4-4 in the standings. It may be static at the top of these rankings from week to week, but things could get shaky on the remaining two-thirds of this list in the coming weeks.
1. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
In the past week: 1
Let’s take a moment here to appreciate where the Bombers are and some of the challenges around this group. There have been injuries to key headlines like greg ellingson, Nick Demski (who just returned last week) and Jackson Jeffcoat. There have been short weeks, then-undefeated BC Lions and Calgary Stampeders squads and a rematch with that Calgary team in Week 8. Oh, and like the legendary Bob Irving he pointed after the eighth victory, the Bombers have not yet had a bye week; none of that mattered. The Bombers have found a way to get off to a historic start, now just two wins shy of the 1960 edition of the Bombers and the 1955 Edmonton team. This week’s challenge: a brief trade to enter a series of home and home against a new opponent in the Montreal Alouettes.
2. BC Lions
Last week: 3
The Lions pulled off a gutsy road win in a very tough environment at Mosaic Stadium. The Lions’ shutout of the Riders in the second half was a team effort, as Nathan Rourke and Co. chipped in 18 points in the second half as the defense closed in on cody fajardo and the Riders, keeping them off the scoreboard en route to a four-sack night that came with an interception. The victory finally puts some separation between what had been four West teams off to good starts. Pushing the Riders to 4-4, the cream of the West crop now finds itself in Winnipeg, BC and Calgary.
3. Stampers of Calgary
Last week: 2
The Stamps could see the finish line on Saturday night. Leading 28-25 at home with just five minutes left, the Stamps had a chance to hand the Bombers their first loss of the season. Instead, Zach Necklaces coldly (always done coldly) found Dalton Schon for his second touchdown of the night and put the game out of his reach. Just about every team in the league can tell you right now, but the Bombers have been the Stampeders’ thorn in the side this season. They’ll be focused on this week’s game in Ottawa, but their third chance against the Bombers, coming in Week 12, is surely on their minds as they process another close loss to the defending Gray Cup champions.
4. The Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Last week: 5
The rise of the Riders here is just a product of them having more wins than their Eastern counterparts. The Riders enter their bye week plagued by injuries, with QB cody fajardo desperately in need of a chance to rest his ailing knee. He and his teammates can spend this week figuring out what went wrong with how their once-dominant 4-1 record now sits at an even .500 with the midpoint of the season fast approaching. Key to the return for the Riders will be protecting Fajardo. The team’s 29 sacks allowed are the worst in the league.
5. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Last week: 8
Could this be it? For the entirety of this year, we’ve waited for them to get over the hump and finally start to get back on the winning path of the past two seasons. CFL.ca’s Marshall Ferguson was eerily at the point where this article last week, where he said the Ticats’ defense would have to lead the way if the team wanted to start racking up wins. Sure enough, that’s what we saw Thursday night against the Alouettes, with a swarming defense that almost has trevor harris on a series of plays in the fourth quarter, before they got the best of backup Dominic Davis on Montreal’s last offensive play. The Ticats know that good teams do it consistently. They will have to make the same effort against Argos this week.
6. Toronto Argonauts
In the past week: 4
Say hello to a sniff of parity in the East, which will make 4-9 extremely difficult to place in this ranking. The Argos shouldn’t be raked over the coals for being the first victim of the REDBLACKS this season; everyone knew they were in due time and that they were better than their disappointing record. The Argos couldn’t keep up the momentum they had built up from their pair of wins over Saskatchewan, and the REBLACKS stymied them in the second half, while their productive running game of past weeks disappeared at home on Sunday. Composure on the field has been a constant problem for this team and that hurt them again on Sunday. They’ll have to stick together during this next stretch of seeing the Ticats four times in five weeks. This rare matchup leaves plenty of room for these teams to compete in the standings.
7. Edmonton Moose
Last week: 7
The Elks emerged from their bye week with some roster adjustments and a sign that they are close to getting some players back in the lineup. Despite all the struggles this team has been through in the last seven games, they face an opportunity heading to BC. With the Riders resting this week and having dropped to 4-4, the Elks don’t feel as out of the picture in the Western Division as they did earlier in the season. Yes three ford is healthy and ready to go against the Lions, feel free to rev up your duel-starting Canadian QB engines: Chris Jones will have a decision to make early this week.
8. Montreal Alouettes
Last week: 6
Thursday’s loss to the Tiger-Cats will hurt an Als team that blew a golden opportunity to create some division in the East. Now sitting third behind Hamilton and Toronto in the standings, the Als have the unenviable task of taking on the Bombers in a home-and-home series before seeing the Ticats once again. On the penalty front, the Als took seven for 89 yards last week. That’s slightly below his season average of 8.7 penalties per 95 yards per game.
9. Ottawa RED BLACKS
Last week: 9
The REDBLACKS finally turned the corner on Sunday night in Toronto with a strong QB performance from Caleb Evans (24-29, 286 yards and two touchdowns) and a defensive effort that turned off the Argos in the second half. The REDBLACKS ranking at this time only reflects their history. That first victory was important, but they are still behind Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal. The good news is that it’s entirely possible to think Coach Paul LaPolice’s team could warm up and gain some ground on their Eastern rivals. If that happens in the next few weeks, the exit from the basement of the Power Ranking may begin.