1. Calgary (1)
The 12-3 Stamps still get the benefit of the doubt and top spot after the first home loss of the season, which dropped their McMahon Stadium win-loss log to 7-1. However, they barely scraped by Montreal two weeks ago, lost to B.C. last week and the growing list of walking wounded is essentially a who’s who of CFL receiving talent. If the Bombers weren’t heading into a bye week, there could easily be a changing of the guard up here.
There hasn’t been a more surprising or definitive butt-kicking than the 31-0 beating the Bombers laid on the Riders last weekend. Winnipeg has won four straight and left its debilitating offensive woes in the rear-view mirror. Starting QB Matt Nichols continues to play it safe and smart and do just enough to win, while there isn’t a more dangerous backup than Chris Streveler anywhere else in the CFL.
The Ticats are warming up just as the Redblacks are cooling off, setting an unbalanced stage for the crucial home-and-home series between them. Hamilton did the expected and beat Toronto last week, so they don’t jump up in the rankings, despite a second straight win. But they are getting all they need from QB Jeremiah Masoli and WR Brandon Banks and the rest of the team is falling in line behind them.
So maybe Wally Buono will make one more trip to McMahon Stadium after all. His Lions became the first team other than the Stamps to win a regular-season game in Calgary this year and in doing so remain relevant in the muddled West Division playoff picture. QB Travis Lulay makes all the difference in the world to this offence. He’s not flawless by any means, but he’s not panicky and after he throws the ball away, he comes right back to make amends.
A flu-ridden Mike Reilly looked rock solid behind a retooled offensive line that wouldn’t let Ottawa anywhere near their QB. Finally. With so much time to get it done, Reilly found Bryant Mitchell 13 times while offensive co-ordinator/head coach Jason Maas mixed in plenty of C.J. Gable and a little Martese Jackson on the ground to keep Ottawa completely off balance, especially in the second half. It snapped a three-game losing skid.
Gang Green was totally schooled from the opening whistle in Winnipeg and there were culprits on both sides of the ball, which meant the generally stalwart defence wasn’t up to the task of constantly bailing out the shaky offence. That’s a recipe for a fall down the rankings and the standings. The Riders are still favoured to host the West semifinal, but just barely.
The Redblacks can’t stop the run or this slide. They’ve dropped two straight and surrendered the upper hand they once held on Hamilton in the race for the East title heading into a home-and-home series between the two.
9. Toronto (9)