CBC Sports football writer Malcolm Kelly breaks down the balance of power in the Canadian Football League on a weekly basis:
|1. CALGARY STAMPEDERS [Unchanged] |
Overall record: 13-3
Streak: Won 4
Is there a better team in all of football at plugging guys in to holes? Rookie Jeff Fuller makes his debut and catches four balls for 75 yards, continuing a season-long trend. It better continue, because the injuries keep piling up for the CFL's elite and you have to wonder where the breaking point is. Jon Cornish, who we're told by Kory Sheets is the second-best running back in the league (behind Kory Sheets) piled up 145 yards against Edmonton and leads that other guy with two games to go. QB Kevin Glenn has moved into top 10 among all-time passers and a national columnist was wondering how that could have happened. Consistency. No flash. Gets the job done.
|2. SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS [Unchanged]|
Overall record: 11-5
Streak: Won 3
Get ready for the game of the year, so far, as the Riders bring RB Kory Sheets into Calgary to face Jon Cornish in the "I'm better than you are" Bowl. There's also a battle for first in the West on the line and if the Roughies can win this one they keep the dream of home-field advantage alive right to Week 19. They already know the semifinal, at least, is at Mosaic. Mr. Sheets ran for 148 yards and a touchdown against B.C., and that was needed because there wasn't much happening in the air for any receiver not named Weston Dressler. Early Rider miscues were forgiven by the D, causing five turnovers and four picks. Offence must show up or beating the Stamps won't happen.
|3. TORONTO ARGONAUTS [Unchaged]|
Overall record: 10-6
Streak: Won 1
You are judged by the company you keep, so when the Argos allowed the Bombers to keep them company all through the second half of this week's game you knew Toronto was in some trouble. Ricky Ray is still showing rust, but his receivers drop too many balls, and there is absolutely no running game to speak of. Chad Kackert was out again and they need him in the backfield. For once, they came out quickly and then scored three points in the final 30 minutes. Awful. Defensively they were worse, giving up 466 total yards to Winnipeg and getting zero sacks. One more win clinches the East, but playing much better is suddenly more important.
|4. HAMILTON TIGER-CATS [Unchanged]|
Overall record: 8-8
Streak: Lost 1
We were wrong, apparently these are your older brother's Kitties. After a pair of impressive outings against Toronto, the Cats were unimaginably awful in Montreal versus a defence that clearly has Hamilton's number. We already knew they couldn't defend, so watching rookie QB Troy Smith take them apart wasn't that surprising. But the offence was terrible, unable to adjust to what the Als were bringing. Cats were behind so quickly they dumped the running game so C.J. Gable, dominant lately, had three carries for zero yards and Chevon Walker two for 15. QB Henry Burris had nothing and was taken out when the game was out of hand. Have to find an answer because this is likely semifinal opponent.
|5.B.C. LIONS [Unchanged] |
Overall record: 9-7
Streak: Lost 3
Yeah, it was wet, but put staples in your fingers or something. Four consecutive turnovers led to four consecutive scores by the Riders. That's just humiliating. Second week in a row they've spotted a better team a big lead. The defence was trying its best, getting turnovers of its own and keeping the Riders to just four points in the second half but by then it was far too late. QB Thomas DeMarco (13-for-30, four picks, two TDs) just isn't ready to run a club in the crunch so it comes down to when Travis Lulay returns. He's been "two weeks away" for about three weeks now. Still not enough from the running game. This disappointing year means nothing if you rev it up for the playoffs. Don't know if they can.
|6. MONTREAL ALOUETTES [Unchanged] |
Overall record: 7-9
Streak: Wong 1
Welcome to the CFL, Troy Smith, who, as the broadcast pointed out, on Sunday became the eighth rookie piv ... er ... quarterback to make his debut in this dangerous season for signal callers. The passing stats weren't fabulous at around 50 per cent completion rate, but he produced three touchdowns and looked in control. As mentioned seven times before, let's let everyone get some film on the former Heisman Trophy winner and then see. But for one day, he was cool to watch. Young Tyrell Sutton (whose favourite childhood book was Green Eggs and Ham -- gotta love him!) had a nice day carrying the ball. Key, however, is the Larks' defence was tremendous against Hamilton, a team that can't handle their heavy, constant rush, producing five sacks and no time. Suddenly, Jim Popp's boys are looking ready to compete in the playoffs.
|7. WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS [Up from 8]|
Overall record: 3-13
Streak: Lost 1
For weeks we've been looking forward to next season, so let's continue. Mike Sims-Walker, a former top NFL receiver who fell on competitive hard times, made his debut for Big Blue against the Argos and caught eight balls for 137 yards. Rory Kohlert came up with five for 55. Add Watson and Edwards and Denmark and there's a receiver corps. QB Max Hall is fighting for a job and he was a solid 30 completions for 385 yards (despite bouncing that one off the left upright -- that linebacker has long arms). The defence shut down Ricky Ray the whole second half, eventually allowing just 15 first downs for the game. Still lost. The 2014 training camp seems to be going well, however.
|8. EDMONTON ESKIMOS [Down from 7]|
Overall record: 3-13
Streak: Lost 4
Terry Jones, of the Edmonton Sun, came up with this great stat to show how the season has gone for the Eskimos. Their famous 50-50 draw for charity at Commonwealth has apparently dropped in prize money by about 80 grand over six home games. That tells you a lot. Eskimos came up with more than 100 yards rushing this week, but almost half was from QB Mike Reilly, and he's not healthy enough to be doing that. Fred Stamps continues to be the flare in the oil field by catching seven for 132 yards. He never quits. Not a bad effort against Calgary, but another loss. And pardon me for piling on, but that fake punt (despite what the coach said about getting out of the pocket) on third and 20 was just nuts. You were only 10 points down, for gosh sakes.
Follow Malcolm Kelly on Twitter @sportsnag
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