Power Rankings: A restless herd mobilizes

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TORONTO — As the Ottawa REDBLACKS inched closer to an unlikely victory on Saturday night at BC Place, it was difficult to not think about the opportunity that was slipping through the BC Lions’ claws.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats had just upset the Winnipeg Blue Bombers out East and the Lions took to the field against the league’s last-place team with a shot at getting within a game of the first-place Bombers in the West.

It came in spectacularly dramatic fashion, in the form of three BC touchdowns in the game’s final 2:30, but the Lions were able to save the day and change the dynamics of the West Division. Their 41-37 win over the REDBLACKS has put first place in their sights. All they have to do to match the Bombers’ record this week is cool off the second-hottest team in the league, when they go to visit the Edmonton Elks on Friday night at Commonwealth Stadium.

One of these aforementioned teams features prominently in this week’s Power Rankings and it may not be who you think it is.

The Elks have their highest ranking here in four years, thanks in large part to the play of Tre Ford, who has led the team to wins in four of its last five games. The Lions, who gained ground on the Bombers in the standings, didn’t have the same good fortune in this week’s rankings. A last-minute win over last-place Ottawa, paired with the BC-Winnipeg season series being knotted up wasn’t enough to lift them past their divisional foes.

Check out the rest of the lay of the Power Ranking land below.

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1. Toronto Argonauts (11-1)

Last week: 1
Last game: 23-20 win over Montreal
Next game: Vs. Hamilton, Sat. Sept. 23 

Worth noting: As far as 150th anniversary seasons go for pro sports franchises, the Argos are putting together a wonderful one. They locked up the East and hit 11-1 for the first time ever in their win against the Als; a win that many of us might have felt was improbable as we got inside the final two minutes of play. Dewayne Hendrix‘s game-sealing blocked field goal is the kind of play that teams can happily pin in their path to the playoffs and will add to the Argos’ belief — something that certainly wasn’t lacking before Week 15 — in the defence of their Grey Cup win.


2. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (10-4)

Last week: 2
Last game: 29-23 loss to Hamilton
Next game: Vs. Toronto, Fri. Sept. 29

Worth noting: Given their success over the last few years, a Winnipeg loss feels like it gets magnified more than any other team’s might. That said, this is the first time since the 2019 season that the Bombers have dropped more than three games (they went 11-7 when they won the Grey Cup in 2019). The Bombers get a bye week to rest up, look at what went wrong in Hamilton and focus in on their only meeting on the regular season schedule with the Argos, which kicks off Week 17. We may have mentioned recently that we’re slightly excited about this one.


3. BC Lions (9-4)

Last week: 3
Last game: 41-37 win over Ottawa

Next game: At Edmonton, Fri. Sept. 22

Worth noting: The Lions appeared destined to accept another disappointing home loss to an Eastern opponent with a sub-.500 record, before Vernon Adams Jr. was able to shake off his three-interception night and Terry Williams brought some special teams magic in the final minutes of play. As discussed above, the Lions’ miracle win lets them gain some crucial ground on the first place Blue Bombers. This is a great time to remind you that the Lions host the Bombers in Week 18, after the two teams have traded beatdowns in their previous two meetings.


4. Edmonton Elks (4-10)

Last week: 6
Last game: 36-27 win over Saskatchewan

Next game: Vs. BC, Fri. Sept. 22 

Worth noting: Perhaps you’re wondering how a four-win team has landed here. Consider the Elks’ recent good fortunes and that they have some legitimate momentum behind them with Ford as their starting QB. When you look down this list from spots 4-9, in a game in this moment, who would you take to win? We weighed that and went with the Elks. A CFL Power Rankings fun fact: this is the highest the Elks have sat in the rankings since Week 12 of the 2019 season, when they were second.


5. Montreal Alouettes (6-7)

Last week: 5
Last game: 23-20 loss to Toronto

Next game: At Calgary, Sat. Sept. 23

Worth noting: For the second time this season, the Als played the Argos down to the wire at Molson Stadium, but the result — the team’s fourth loss in a row and a drop below the .500 mark — won’t smooth anything over for head coach Jason Maas’ team. The Als’ grip on that second place spot in the East Division, and the home playoff game that comes with it, is up for grabs. The Als come through their four-game stretch against a combination of Winnipeg, BC and Toronto as opponents with no wins to show for it and have an increasingly confident team in Hamilton on their heels in the standings. The Als head to Calgary this week in need of a win.


6. Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-7)

Last week: 4
Last game: 36-27 loss to Edmonton 

Next game: At Ottawa, Fri. Sept. 22

Worth noting: The Riders went toe-to-toe with the Elks through three quarters and then the points just ran dry, while the Elks managed 16 in the fourth to upend the home team for a win. The Riders’ spot in the West standings is still relatively safe, with both the Stamps and Elks two games behind them. With the Elks putting together their late-season push and the Stamps right there with them and capable of a run, Friday’s trip to Ottawa carries some extra urgency for the Riders.


7. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (6-7)

Last week: 8
Last game: 29-23 win over Winnipeg

Next game: At Toronto, Sat. Sept. 23

Worth noting: Welcome to Week 16, where the once lowly Tiger-Cats appear to have shifted into giant killers. After taking down the Lions at BC Place in Week 12, the Ticats downed the West-leading Blue Bombers at Tim Hortons Field, marking the second year in a row they’ve managed to do so. The Ticats get another shot at the giant-sized puzzle they haven’t been able to solve this season on Saturday, when they travel to BMO Field to face the Argos for the fourth time this season. Let’s close this out with some love to Tyreik McAllister and his 126-yard missed convert return…which for all of the energy expelled on it, feels like it should be worth more than two points.


8. Calgary Stampeders (4-9)

Last week: 7
Last game: 25-23 loss to Edmonton (Week 14)
Next game: Vs. Montreal, Sat. Sept. 23 

Worth noting: It’s rare that a team on the bye moves in the rankings, but Calgary’s drop is due to the Ticats being rewarded for beating a top team and needing to move up. In the standings (which matter to the Stamps) and in the Power Rankings (which very likely don’t), this team has some ground to make up. The Stamps have a 17-season playoff appearance streak on the line as they size up their final five regular season games. The slumping Alouettes make their way to McMahon this week, setting the stage for a collision between two desperate teams in need of a win. With the Elks playing as well as they are, the Stamps need to start consistently producing to keep those playoff hopes alive.


9. Ottawa REDBLACKS (3-10)

Last week: 9
Last game: 41-37 loss to BC

Next game: Vs. Saskatchewan, Fri. Sept. 22

Worth noting: The missed field goal that turned into a life-giving BC Lions’ return touchdown will haunt the REDBLACKS, who were just minutes away from snapping their six-game losing streak, which now stands at seven. Beneath the ugliness of this streak and where it’s landed the REDBLACKS, there are positives sitting in front of the fans. Dustin Crum has emerged as a solid quarterback, while Devonte Williams can rack up yards on the ground or in the pass game. Barron Miles’ defence can make plays, as Douglas Coleman III’s pick six demonstrated this past week. The team just needs to turn the corner to turn those tight games into wins.


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