CFL Power Rankings: Week 7 | Football | CBC Sports

CFLCFL Power Rankings: Week 7

Posted: Monday, August 11, 2014 | 12:17 PM

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QB Bo Mitchell and the Stampeders' have the league's second highest-scoring offence in average point per game. (Todd Korol/Getty Images) QB Bo Mitchell and the Stampeders' have the league's second highest-scoring offence in average point per game. (Todd Korol/Getty Images)

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QB Bo Mitchell and the Stampeders rise to the top of Malcolm Kelly's weekly breakdown of the Canadian Football League.
CBC Sports football contributor Malcolm Kelly breaks down the balance of power in the Canadian Football League on a weekly basis.

Overall record: 5-1
Streak: Won 1
Next: at Hamilton

Let's get the Drew Tate rumour thing out of the way early. Unless somebody (like Montreal) offers something crazy for the backup QB (such as DL John Bowman or LB Chip Cox) you do not trade him. I'm sure he's not happy as the backup to Bo Mitchell, and no truly competitive player would be. But one hit, one bad step by BLM and you've got a huge problem on your hands if Tate isn't there. White Stallions built a big lead on Ottawa and let up on the gas as Mitchell put in a pretty good game. Marquay McDaniel was the best of the receivers with nine grabs for 117, and the defence contributed four sacks and a couple of interceptions. Stamps are second in the league in average points scored and allowed. They are especially good against the run. Things are pretty much bubbling along with Hamilton and then Ottawa again coming up. Still no word on RB Jon Cornish coming back.
Overall record: 5-2
Streak: Lost 1
Next: at Toronto

It's surprising that friendly shoving between the Riders and Bombers in warm-up didn't end with Drew Willy getting sacked. He was under siege all game as an overmatched offensive line just couldn't hold back the rush. Bombers gave up five sacks and three tackles with no gain (or less). Allowing the QB to be hurried like that leads to poor throws, such as the two late picks that threw the game away. There was a great catch by Rory Kohlert in the second half that was into triple coverage, and only turned out well because of the athleticism of the receiver. Willy then showed his chops by hitting Kohlert for a nice score shortly afterwards. RB Nic Grigsby was crushed, gaining seven yards on 10 carries. That's two of the last three games he's had nothing. Overall, the Bombers had 37 yards rushing and you could see Regina came with that goal in mind. There were also three fumbles. You want Willy to lead you to the promised playoff land? Protect him.
Overall record: 4-2
Streak: Won 3
Next: vs. Montreal

The defensive coordinator, Richie Hall, took a simple approach to beating the Bombers this week -- wind up the front seven and let 'em loose. Riders had the posse after Drew Willy all game, including those five sacks (including three by John Chick, who has hit his stride). Two late picks sealed the deal. RB Jerome Messam, trying to regain his top-Canadian form of three years ago, ran for 126 on 19 carries as Regina came out in running mode, piling up 29 total rushes for the game. Marc Trestman, now the Chicago Bears' coach, espoused a philosophy in Montreal of walking just over the wrong side of the line when it came to taking aggressive penalties. It's a dangerous game, and the Riders (17 flags, including three roughing that could have hurt) have to be careful with that. Chris Milo was 3 for 5 on field goals and is now at just 72.2 per cent, and that's a concern.
4. EDMONTON ESKIMOS [Down from 3]
Overall record: 5-1
Streak: Won 1
Next: At Ottawa

There's nothing like a game in Montreal when you're coming off a bad outing and a bye week. Except the Eskimos acted the well-behaved visitor by almost letting the Larks take this one at the end. Leading 30-8 at halftime (on 313 yards), the offence went to sleep and found only a field goal in the final 30 minutes (on 78 yards). QB Mike Reilly was strong early but only three of six after the break. They put a lot of pressure on their own defence by keeping the ball six minutes less than their opponent. The D held when it had to, coming up with four big sacks, but shouldn't have been put in that position. Corner Pat Watkins was hurt and if he's out that will be a big loss. Moving on to Ottawa seems a nice trip, but an offence not ready to play 60 minutes can make the Redblacks tilt a dangerous trap game. Can't waste the excellent season start.
5. B.C. LIONS [Unchanged]
Overall record: 4-3
Streak: Won 2
Next: at Toronto

If that was Kevin Glenn's last start as a Lion (barring injury), he's owed a round of applause. The veteran was brought in to handle a couple of games while Travis Lulay finished his recovery, and that turned into almost half a season. He's 4-3 following the win over Hamilton, is second on the QB charts, the team is tied for second in points scored. Yes, he's thrown 11 picks but six of those were in the first two games while he was learning the new offence. And his running has been brave. It looks as though Lulay could be back this week in Toronto. A tight, competitive game against the Cats produced a win because the offence just kept coming and the Hamilton defence bent enough to allow key field goals (Paul McCallum was five for five). The Leo defence spent so much time in the backfield they came up with a startling six tackles for loss. Neither Cats RB gained a yard, so QB Dan LeFevour had to run himself. That was a problem for B.C. as he ran for 103. Great day from Shawn Gore who had five catches for 117.
6. TORONTO ARGONAUTS [Unchanged -- Bye]
Overall record: 2-4
Streak: Won 1
Next: vs. Winnipeg, vs. B.C.

Argos come off the bye into a weird situation. With the club having so few home date options at Rogers Centre, and the league now dealing with an unbalanced schedule with nine teams, the Double Blue have to play two games this week. Hardly great timing for a team still decimated by injuries on offence. Ricky Ray, putting in one of his best efforts at the helm, still has a makeshift lineup, though RB Steve Slaton is making a difference. Receiver Jason Barnes is close to returning but it won't be Tuesday. Coach Scott Milanovich said Sunday that Chad Owens and Andre Durie could be back for the Labour Day tilt in Hamilton. If the Double Blue can keep the penalties down as they did last time out (four), that can keep drives going. Ray has to find someone who can get the ball into the end zone for him. Argos only have to survive, because with its good defence (third best in net yards allowed) a healthy second half will make it a tough club to beat.
Overall record: 1-5
Streak: Lost 2
Next: vs. Calgary

You want to say this team is ready to break out. You point to the last four losses being by a total of 15 points. However, there are just too many mistakes being made by the defending East champions at the worst times, costing them games. They miss tackles (regularly), take far too many penalties (15 this week, 34 in the last two contests for piles of lost yards) and they can't seem to maintain long drives. When they do move the ball it's usually because the Kitties come up with an occasional big play. They had possession for less than 27 minutes out on the Left Coast. Dan LeFevour has played well at QB, no doubt, but he needs help from teammates. Cats running backs carried the ball three times this week. Three!! The offensive line can't be that bad. Hamilton's defence allowed 472 yards in net offence and the secondary was getting burned all night. It's nice to see receiver Sam Giguere starting to show the promise that made him a first pick in 2008 out of Sherbrooke. Giguere, who spent three years on NFL rosters before coming north in 2012, has always looked like he should be a star. That may be happening now.
Overall record: 1-5
Streak: Lost 3
Next: vs. Edmonton

Week seven seems a good time to take a look at the Rouge et Noir. On the positive side, RB Chevon Walker has been terrific, with 704 combined yards and a well-earned new contract. Henry Burris is fifth on the QB charts, though his efficiency rating is second worst and his completion percentage is low as everyone gets to know everyone else. The RBs can't score, but the offence moves the ball and thus is consistently interesting. They also have glue hands - zero fumbles so far - that's astonishing for an expansion team. Heck, for any team. Ottawa takes far too many penalties, but that's not a surprise either. Because it's so hard to build a pass defence, they are being burned back there, last in most every category. Much better against the run thanks to strong linebackers. Against Calgary, the Redblacks were down a long way by halftime again, but came up with a couple of great plays in the second half and held the Stamps to just 10 points. More adventures ahead.
Overall record: 1-5
Streak: Lost 4
Next: at Saskatchewan

QB Troy Smith moved up from awful to not good enough by going 20 of 45 for 231 yards and no TDs against the Eskimos. Now, the Larks' brain trust (the largest collection of coaches and "advisors" I recall seeing on one CFL team) has to make a decision. If they are going to stick with Smith and let him learn they need to tell the fans that so everyone understands this season isn't about winning it's about learning. If not, send Calgary whatever it takes for Drew Tate (a lot). Montreal had the ball more than 33 minutes in this game and they were moving at times, helped in great part by Brandon Whitaker giving them some yards on the ground. Anything that takes pressure off Smith is welcome. Having Duron Carter back to catch balls and stretch the coverage also helps. The defence played darn well in the second half and it's a credit to coach Noel Thorpe they keep going hard. Really, two plays the other way and the Larks might have won this. They didn't, and they didn't.
TUESDAY UPDATE: QB Troy Smith has been benched in favour of Alex Brink for this Saturday's game.

Follow Malcolm Kelly on Twitter @sportsnag

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