CFL Power Rankings: Week 1 | Football | CBC Sports

CFL Power RankingsCFL Power Rankings: Week 1

Posted: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 | 06:44 PM

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Riders defensive ends John Chick (97) and Rickey Foley (93) sack quarterback Zach Collaros in a 31-10 victory over the Ticats. (Liam Richards/Canadian Press) Riders defensive ends John Chick (97) and Rickey Foley (93) sack quarterback Zach Collaros in a 31-10 victory over the Ticats. (Liam Richards/Canadian Press)

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CBC Sports football contributor Malcolm Kelly breaks down the balance of power in the Canadian Football League on a weekly basis.

CBC Sports football contributor Malcolm Kelly breaks down the balance of power in the Canadian Football League on a weekly basis:

1. SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS
Overall record: 1-0
Streak: Won 1
Next: Away at TOR

When it's raining cats and prairie dogs, you turn to the run game and that's what the Riders did in their opener by featuring ... Anthony Allen? Who in the name of Princess Louise is Anthony Allen? Well, he's a guy who bounced around pro ball, including a full season on special teams with the Baltimore Ravens before landing in Regina. Allen's 158 yards on 27 carries was just what the defending Grey Cup champs needed when the precipitation was coming in sideways against Hamilton. QB Darian Durant was solid, throwing teeny, tiny, short passes for positive yards all day. The defence was merely frightening, sacking poor Ticats QB Zach Collaros 10 times. About the only one who didn't mash Collaros to the turf was the equipment manager. I'm sure he was willing to give it a shot. Just the start the champs needed.
2. CALGARY STAMPEDERS
Overall record: 1-0
Streak: Won 1
Next: Bye Week

Leading 4-0 late in the first quarter, QB Bo Levi Mitchell launches a 57-yard (in the air) bomb from two yards deep in his own end zone to WR Mo Price, who took it in from there for a score and that, as it turned out, was the game as the White Stallions trampled Montreal. This is significant because, as teams cheat up to the line out of concern for RB Jon Cornish's running ability, they open up the back more. Mitchell, who has been developed for this moment, can take advantage, leaving defensive co-ordinators with a serious puzzle. As defenders drop back again into coverage, here comes Cornish. Calgary's defence was strong, helped in large part by how bad Als QB Troy Smith was on the day. The Stamps only had four sacks, but it seemed like eight. Now they get an extra week of "camp" to prepare for a long run.
3. EDMONTON ESKIMOS
Overall record: 1-0
Streak: Won 1
Next: Home to HAM

Confidence means everything to a football team and you can often measure it not just by what a team is willing to try, but whether it can pull it off. Late in the third quarter at B.C., the Eskimos were deep in Leos' territory and faked a field goal while down four. That takes guts. And they pulled it off. That's confidence. It eventually led to a nice pass from QB Mike Reilly to sublime SB Fred Stamps for a touchdown that put Edmonton into a lead it would not relinquish. Think about this. Esks rookie head coach Chris Jones could easily have gone for the three, pulled within a point and gone from there. I don't know what this means long term, but it was nice to see for a franchise that has been hard to watch the last few years. Nice defensive outing, too.
4. WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS
Overall record: 1-0
Streak: Won 1
Next: Home to OTT

It was Bombs Away Dream Babies for the Blue Bombers in Week 1 as everything Drew Willy touched turned to Gold (You Tube it, kids). The new QB, in from Regina, showed he learned how to win while backing up Darian Durant and wasn't at all worried about how putrid things have been in the land of the twin-engined mosquito. He just went out there and did a job. Rookie head coach Mike O'Shea, always a riverboat gambler in his career, went the full Kenny Rogers and threw it all down against the Argos. Careful approach? Pshaw! Willy completed only 19 passes on the night, but produced four touchdowns as he picked his spots nicely. They were pretty much all deep downfield, by the way. SB Aaron Kelly caught five for 100 yards. New RB Nic Grigsby had l22 on the ground. In the past, when the opposing team imploded as the Argos did against them, the Bombers would say "Hey, they're as bad as we are!" Now they just go for the throat.
5. B.C. LIONS
Overall record: 0-1
Streak: Lost 1
Next: Away at MTL

Not a great start in the "No. 1 until Travis Lulay gets back in Week 7" role for backup QB Kevin Glenn, but the loss wasn't entirely his fault. He threw for 251 yards and two touchdowns, but also four interceptions, of which at least two were poor efforts. Glenn was also on the run quite a bit and had almost no running game to help. Still, three points in the second half isn't what GM Wally Buono brought him in for. Holding the Eskimos to less than 300 yards in total offence was good, but B.C. still allowed the key scores that sank the ship. Especially concerning was allowing Esks SB Adarius Bowman to get down the seam behind the defenders for the long winning score. Lots (and lots) of time to work things out.
6. TORONTO ARGONAUTS
Overall record: 0-1
Streak: Lost 1
Next: Home to SSK

That defensive effort was simply inexcusable, especially in the opening half, when Winnipeg built up a 24-7 lead on a shocked Double Blue. Yes, the Argos only have five returners on defence from last year and just one left from the Grey Cup, but new defensive co-ordinator Tim Burke needs to straighten this out in a hurry. No pressure all night. The corners were getting Charlie Brown'd. And 22 penalties on both sides of the ball for 163 yards? Oh ... My ... Godinheaven! What a mess. Fortunately, this is Week 1, not Week 16. QB Ricky Ray was OK, completing 27 passes for 283 yards and a couple of touchdowns, but he's going to need more than 42 yards rushing in support. Of course, being behind the length of a prairie early meant having to go by air even more.
7. HAMILTON TIGER-CATS
Overall record: 0-1
Streak: Lost 1
Next: Away at EDM

I'm sure the folks who handle CFL scheduling thought that was pretty funny, sending the Kitties right back to Regina, the site of their Grey Cup pummelling last fall, where they could get pummelled again. This is a rebuilding offensive line and, therefore, there will be days when it is downright offensive. Such as that one. Hamilton's defence couldn't stop the run in the rain, but in fairness, it was on the field all night. Hamilton's running game totalled 42 yards, 27 of those by QBs trying to stay alive. RB C.J. Gable carried just three times for eight yards and the Tabbies fell behind so quickly, they took to the air. Far too early, it says here. I heard some ridiculous chat about how QB Zach Collaros may not be the answer. Please, it's one game. Give the kid a season.
8. MONTREAL ALOUETTES
Overall record: 0-1
Streak: Lost 1
Next: Home to BC

QB Troy Smith threw so many balls over receivers' heads this week, they must have thought they were watching brown and white geese migrating north. Awful. I can't see it staying this way, however, and the heir apparent to Anthony Calvillo* will have better days, especially if he can get some run support. RB Brandon Whitaker was OK at 12 carries for 59 yards, but that rebuilt offensive line is going to have to find him some room to keep the pressure off Smith. On the other side of the ball, the Als defence held Jon Cornish to 67 yards, but that opened up opportunities passing and the Stamps took advantage for 313 yards in the air. WR Chad Johnson had two catches for 20 yards and it looks like he might fit in. WR Duron Carter, future NFLer, caught four balls. *In fairness to the new QBs (and to save space for other things), this will be the last Power Rankings mention of A.C. for the season.
9. OTTAWA REDBLACKS
Overall record: 0-0
Streak: None
Next: Away at WPG

"Hey, we get to open against Winnipeg!" That must have been the reaction when the schedule first came out, but now the Redblacks must be wondering. There has been far too much chat about this club exceeding expectations and that's raising the unfair idea that it can go .500 or something. No. What the fans will expect is that the club comes out and plays hard each week. QB Henry Burris must be protected this weekend at all costs. If he goes down, Thomas DeMarco comes in and the former B.C. backup is not the same talent as Smilin' Hank at this early stage in his career. The Blue Bombers also hammered the Argos cornerbacks, so DB Jovon Johnson and his partner will have to be heads up all game. One thing you know, though, Le Rouge et Noir d'Ottawa will be higher than a kite for this one.

Follow Malcolm Kelly on Twitter @sportsnag

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