CFL Power Rankings: The Champs make things interesting

TORONTO — You won’t see it reflected at the top of these rankings this week, but the defending Grey Cup champions are making things interesting when it comes to our weekly power rankings.

The Toronto Argonauts gave a complete and impressive effort in their 32-14 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats on Sunday at BMO Field. They saw their 2022 Grey Cup championship banner raised (via a cool balloon that let the banner stand on its own in the northwest corner of the stadium all evening) and promptly went out on the field and showed that even with a change at starting quarterback, this can be a very competitive, dominant team.

For now, the Argos hold steady at No. 3 in our rankings. As good as Chad Kelly and Co. looked in their win, the esteemed committee of rankers would like to see them get out on the field and do it again before they really consider bumping them up into the airspace that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and BC Lions currently occupy.

Speaking of those two West Division heavyweights, they’ll meet to get the football party started in Week 3. While the power rankings will be far from their minds on Thursday night, we can safely say that the outcome will certainly impact who ends up where in this space a week from today.

Let’s get into the lay of the land after Week 2’s games.

1. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2-0)

Last week: 1
Last game: 45-27 win over Saskatchewan

Next game: Vs. BC, Thurs. June 22

Worth noting: For the second season in a row, the schedule-making gods bless us with the Bombers and Lions meeting early with perfect records. It wasn’t that long ago that the Bombers’ defence was the thing that truly separated them from the rest of the CFL pack. Now, with Zach Collaros and the offence firing away and Janarion Grant a return TD threat every time he catches the ball, this team is terrifyingly good in all three phases.

2. BC Lions (2-0)

Last week: 2
Last game: 22-0 win over Edmonton
Next game: At Winnipeg, Thurs. June 22

Worth noting: The Lions go into their heavyweight tilt with the Bombers buoyed by their first shutout since 1977. They’ll need every bit of that defensive effort against a Winnipeg team that’s averaged 43.5 points per game this season. Offensively, the Lions will need more of that Week 2 output they got; a single touchdown paired with field goals likely won’t cut it against the Bombers.

3. Toronto Argonauts (1-0)

Last week: 3
Last game: 32-14 win over Hamilton

Next game: At Edmonton, Sun. June 25

Worth noting: The Argos, led by Chad Kelly on offence, looked every bit defending Grey Cup champs at home against their arch-rivals from down the QEW. If Kelly can continue to play with the overall poise and effectiveness that he showed in his debut as the starting QB, this team will be a force this season.

4. Saskatchewan Roughriders (1-1)

Last week: 4
Last game: 45-27 loss to Winnipeg
Next game: At Calgary, Sat. June 24

Worth noting: As CJME’s and’s Jamie Nye pointed out in the wake of Friday’s game, he was surprised by the good vibes that emanated from the Rider fan base over their 18-point loss to the Bombers. Some reasons for that optimism: 437 net yards of green team offence; a respectable three sacks allowed against a great Bombers’ defence and a three-touchdown performance from Trevor Harris, complete with a Sam Emilus receiving TD hat trick.

5. Calgary Stampeders (1-1)

Last week: 6
Last game: 26-15 win over Ottawa
Next game: Vs. Saskatchewan, Sat. June 24

Worth noting: The Stamps bounced back in Ottawa, with Jake Maier playing better (22-33 passing, 270 yards) and his receivers responding in kind, with Reggie Begelton and Malik Henry combining for 15 catches and 190 yards. The absence of Ka’Deem Carey was mitigated by Dedrick Mills‘ 19-carry, 99-yard, one-TD effort. The Stamps celebrated five turnovers from the REDBLACKS and had a cookie cutting celebration in the TD Place end zone, which was an all-timer, depending on who you ask.

6. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (0-2)

Last week: 5
Last game: 32-14 loss to Toronto
Next game: Vs. Montreal, Fri. June 23

Worth noting:  A pair of end zone interceptions were crushing blows to the Ticats’ hopes in Toronto on Sunday. Now, the Ticats’ waiting game takes on new dimensions. They wait to see if Bo Levi Mitchell is healthy enough to play this week in their home opener against the Als. If he is, they wait to see if the offensive chemistry between him and his receivers can grow by leaps and bounds. If Mitchell is unable to play this week, the door opens for Matthew Shiltz, the backup who always seems to end up playing against his old Alouettes club.

7. Montreal Alouettes (1-0)

Last week: 8
Last game: 19-12 win over Ottawa (Week 1)

Next game: At Hamilton, Fri. June 23

Worth noting: Normally, teams don’t move up or down coming out of a bye week, but the Als prove to be the exception to the rule based on their record and the performances of the teams under them. In Week 1, it was Austin Mack that emerged from CFL anonymity to be a game-changing factor for Cody Fajardo. Will it be a new face/pair of hands this week? Or will vets like Hergy Mayala and Kaion Julien-Grant step up? Opportunity abounds in the Als’ banged up receiving corps.

8. Ottawa REDBLACKS (0-2)

Last week: 9
Last game: 26-15 loss to Calgary

Next game: Vs. Edmonton, Fri. June 30

Worth noting:  With Jeremiah Masoli hopefully on deck, the REDBLACKS welcome this early bye in the schedule. The REDBLACKS’ slow start has been reminiscent of this team a year ago after Masoli went down with his broken leg. Masoli can be a fortune-changing QB for this team, if he’s healthy enough to play. R Nation crosses its fingers as it takes some time to enjoy the summer, before the Elks come to TD Place in 11 days’ time.

9. Edmonton Elks (0-2)

Last week: 7
Last game: 22-0 loss to BC

Next game: Vs. Toronto, Sun. June 25

Worth noting: The offence came to a screeching halt in BC this past week for the Elks. While Chris Jones had Taylor Cornelius‘ back after the Elks’ shutout loss at BC Place, he’ll need more production from that spot when the suddenly big, bad Argos roll into Commonwealth Stadium. Going 13-23 for 91 yards won’t get it done, we all know that. How much patience will Jones have and will he be rewarded for it?

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