Malcolm Kelly breaks down the balance of power in the Canadian Football League:
|1. SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS [Up from 2]|
Streak: Won 3
Beating a pretender is a matter of grinding ... grinding ... grinding, until finally the other guys realize they aren't in your league and go away. Such as how the Riders took care of Winnipeg. Geroy Simon, whose bust they can start working on at the Hall of Fame any time now, had his best game with It's Not Just Regina, nabbing five catches and two TDs, one of them absolutely crucial. Kory Sheets had under 100 yards for just the second time this season, but given the way QB Darian Durant is running the ball, that's fine. Still, there were some dumb, dumb penalties by the defence in this one and if it happens against a good team, trouble will follow.
|2. CALGARY STAMPEDERS[Down from 1] |
Overall record: 7-2
Streak: Won 2
Sorry, you don't put on a fourth quarter like the one against Edmonton (27 points allowed) and keep your No. 1 ranking. Calgary played superbly for three periods and then almost tossed it away in what would have been a near historic collapse. You can't blame the injury to QB Kevin Glenn, who was accidently stepped on by his own O-lineman in the second quarter. Bo Levi Mitchell did a nice job in relief and had things up to 37-7 before heck raised its head and everyone lost theirs at the same time. Gives Edmonton hope for the Friday rematch. Almost wrecked a tremendous day by Maurice Price (five catches, 165 yards, three TDs). Jon Cornish, working back from a one-game injury, has to be at full speed for the White Stallions to really gallop.
|3.B.C. LIONS [Up from 4] |
Overall record: 6-3
Streak: Won 1
This is a tale of 400s, as in the B.C. offence had a good game running up more than 400 yards against the Cats, while the defence surrendered about 400 of its own. Lions had humiliated themselves in Montreal the week before, so a win was tantamount, and they got that. Still, this one almost disappeared in the late going once again. Much of the problem is B.C., at crucial times, gave up too many yards after the catch (a modern stat with an old-fashioned meaning -- nobody back there was tackling). On the positive side, super receiver Manny Arceneaux is currently tied with the Riders' John Chick for Most Influential Guy Who Came Back After Not Making It in the NFL For Reasons That Are Beyond Us. The offensive line was much better this week. And a great job by those paid to rush the QB (five sacks).
|4. TORONTO ARGONAUTS[Down from 3]|
Overall record: 5-4
Streak: Lost 2
Argos had better pull this together in a hurry or they're going to be facing playing the East semi on the road. With all of their main offensive weapons injured or beaten to a pulp (Ricky Ray, Chad Kackert the former, Chad Owens the latter) and no running game, it's all going to be about special teams and defence for a while. Against the Als it was too many penalties, too many mistakes on specials, too many big plays that gave life to a Montreal attack that wasn't doing much by itself. The schedule now turns against the Double Blue with four straight games on the road including at Calgary and Saskatchewan. Ray may be out all the way to Week 17 and you don't want him to find a mess when he gets back.
|5. HAMILTON TIGER-CATS[Unchanged]|
Streak: Lost 1
Not bad at all Kitty Kat, though a win in B.C. would have been nicer. As long as QB Henry Burris is in the lineup, this team has a fair chance of beating anybody. Now they have to turn the chance into reality more often. Defensive backs are still getting burned, and more changes back there are happening this week as the Cats get ready for the return match with the Lions. Though C.J. Gable was effective at times out of the backfield, Hamilton can't find a reliable running attack. The USC grad is still a real find, however, as his 141 all-purpose yards show. If you're looking for an emerging star, try defensive end Brandon Boudreaux.
|6. MONTREAL ALOUETTES[Unchanged] |
Overall record: 4-5
Streak: Won 2
Surprising what these guys are doing with all their injuries. Jim Popp seems to have them focused since taking over, especially on defence. Sure, Tanner Marsh wasn't spectacular against Toronto, but he's learning at QB and did the job he was asked to do. Key was these guys took advantage when the Argos handed them opportunities. Chip Cox, the defensive war horse, rallied the troops and made sure they came up with the victory, keeping young Toronto pivot Zach Collaros on the run all night. This division is wide open and there could be a two- or three-way tie for first in the East after the coming weekend. On the bad side, RB Brandon Whitaker is hurt again.
|7. EDMONTON ESKIMOS[Unchanged]|
Overall record: 1-8
Streak: Lost 7
That's five straight losses by three points or less, and three times the Green and Gold has scored 30 points or more. It's a bit silly to try and learn something from an offence that was awful in three quarters and then exploded for 27 points in the fourth. What you can say, in a strictly rebuilding year, is that the team showed some pride when it realized they were embarrassing themselves and the fan base in trailing 37-7. QB Mike Reilly must be one big bruise as the (really) offensive line left him open to seven sacks. And still he was able to mount that comeback. Tough dude. Cary Koch now has already surpassed his previous career mark in catches. A legit star. Note to GM Ed Hervey: Lousy timing. Your young team did not need you popping off.
|8. WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS[Unchanged]|
Sometimes, it really comes down to lack of talent. Winnipeg put up a fight, played with courage, tried its best, but just didn't have enough of anything to beat the No. 1-ranked Riders. This one-man jury is still out on Justin Goltz as a QB, but you had to admire the determination, both running and passing. Don't have a problem with him playing up to the crowd after a pair of rushing touchdowns, because it showed he and the club are still into it. Those late turnovers as he forced the ball into coverage, however, are concerning. And 10 penalties against a good team will merely kill you. Now we're off to the Banjo Bowl, and a rematch with the pickers.
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