CFL Power Rankings: Week 9 | Football | CBC Sports

CFLCFL Power Rankings: Week 9

Posted: Monday, August 25, 2014 | 10:58 PM

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Calgary Stampeders receiver Joe West, playing under the shadow of a family tragedy, made two great catches for long gains against the Ottawa Redblacks. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press) Calgary Stampeders receiver Joe West, playing under the shadow of a family tragedy, made two great catches for long gains against the Ottawa Redblacks. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

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The Calgary Stampeders continue to cruise atop our weekly breakdown of the balance of power in 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.


1. CALGARY STAMPEDERS [Unchanged]
Overall record: 7-1
Streak: Won 3
Next: vs. Edmonton

Can you say cruise? The Stamps' offence certainly can because while the defenders were playing an almost perfect game against expansion Ottawa, the attack lollygagged its way through most of the contest. They built up yards, certainly, but came up with a mere handful of points - something detractors might point out is all you need against the punch-less Redblacks. This game was still 11-7 halfway through the fourth quarter before Ottawa's defence and special teams finally collapsed. Even kicker Rene Paredes seemed to take the afternoon off, missing two of three field goals. But that defence. Wow. It came out with a simple plan: rushing Henry Burris and making him run around all afternoon. Hank completed just 12 passes for 113 yards and when they went to the ground there wasn't much there, either. Joe West, playing under the shadow of a family tragedy, made two great catches for long gains, and Sederrick Cunningham had two scores. Star RB Jon Cornish finally returned from a concussion and looked strong but rusty. The White Stallions now take this D against Edmonton's excellent D in back-to-backs that could potentially be a pair of snot knockers to remember.
2. SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS [Unchanged]
Overall record: 6-2
Streak: Won 5
Next: vs. Winnipeg

Three plays in an important road win at B.C. made you sit right up on Sunday. First, QB Darian Durant (and you know how this column feels about him) injured a finger on his throwing hand and had to leave the game at halftime. No word if he can play next week against Winnipeg. In stepped Tino Sunseri, with 21 career passes, and he immediately threw a bomb down to Rob Bagg, who hasn't dropped a chance since Tino was three and reading his first book (The Roly-Poly Puppy Learns the West Coast Offence). Bagg dropped it. So later they tried something else ... Dan Clark. The offensive lineman Dan Clark. What a pair of hands on the 310 pounder as he made a twisting adjustment to a short end-zone toss over his head and then landed with a Richter Scale thud for what would be the winning touchdown. While the special teams gave up some long runbacks to set up B.C. points, the Rider D shut down the Lions all night. With Durant possibly out, the D will have to carry the mail. That's OK, they've been doing it all season.
3. EDMONTON ESKIMOS [Unchanged]
Overall record: 7-1
Streak: Won 3
Next: at Calgary

You give me a good defence and a strong kicking game and I'll play you every week like that. The Eskimos came blasting out of the film room to take the inside game away from the Argonauts. Toronto has put a lot of pressure on its O-Line by asking the unit to block without help much of the year, and the green and gold were ready to take advantage. Odell Willis had a great night with two sacks, but accolades have to be spread up and down. That second quarter was outstanding. Yes, the Eskimos let Toronto back into the game after the Argos responded with halftime adjustments (too late), but the D came back strong late. QB Mike Reilly left after one pass with a thumb injury but insisted on Monday he'll be ready to go against Calgary. Matt Nichols came in and was OK, but the offence is still playing just half a game, gaining 242 net yards in the first two quarters and only 69 in the second. Too many mistakes. Too much pressure allowed on the QBs. Two with Calgary ahead, and you can't expect the D to do it all.
4. B.C. LIONS [Unchanged]
Overall record: 5-4
Streak: Lost 1
Next: Bye

There's nothing like Guaranteed Win Night to get the other team riled up and ready to play. Lions started brightly against the Riders when Tim Brown made a big return that set up a field goal and then a bigger one for a touchdown to give the home side a 10-0 lead with less than five minutes gone. B.C. scored six points the rest of the way, only three of those in the second half. That 40-minute snooze the offence took in Toronto the week before apparently wasn't an aberration, after all. Lions kept threatening to score, but couldn't close the deal. And when Stefan Logan ran a punt back to the visitor's 17, the Lions wasted it by settling for a field goal. All-everything defender Solomon Elimimian injured his knee/leg and we'll have to see how that goes. QB Kevin Glenn also went down, saving B.C. a pivot controversy because Travis Lulay is healthy and now has the big job back. The Lions have a bye week to get healthy and fix that offence.
5. WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS [Unchanged]
Overall record: 6-3
Streak: Won 1
Next: at Saskatchewan

All hail Maurice Leggett, whose three interceptions this week kept the Bombers from the ignominy of losing to Montreal. The blue and gold (who were not wearing any gold because the signature jersey designers apparently thought team colours were a guideline, not a requirement) were outplayed by the one-win Larks in many categories, including first downs, net yards, sacks and time of possession. That the defence was able to get better as the game went on is a tribute to its members, who were on the field for 35 minutes. QB Drew Willy and the Winnipeg attack bogged down in the first half, picking up three first downs. They did just enough in the second half, keyed by good Nic Grigsby runs. Special teams were special this night, led by 161 return yards from Troy Stoudermire and that sharp punt block by Derek Jones that resulted in a Bomber touchdown. Having lost two straight and almost a third, we now see if the Bombers are who they think they are with back to backs against Saskatchewan. We will learn a lot.
6. TORONTO ARGONAUTS [Unchanged]
Overall record: 3-6
Streak: Lost 2
Next: at Hamilton

There is absolutely no excuse for the way this team played in the second quarter against Edmonton, a 15-minute span that put the Double Blue down 31-10 at halftime and made the second half comeback moot. It also wrecked what was on its way to being one of the hardest hitting, most entertaining games of the season. The mess began late in the first with a Kendiel Lawrence 61-yard run from scrimmage for a TD, followed by a Ricky Ray pick that led to a TD a play later. Then Ray was picked again by Odell Willis (on another bad hitch screen), who laterals to Dexter McCoil for a TD. Finally, the Toronto D allowed a long drive for a major. That's 28 points. Awful. Argo coaches made some good adjustments at the half, but why couldn't they be made on the run in the first 30 minutes? If the Argos didn't have bad luck on injuries they'd have no luck at all. Chad Owens was playing well in his return from the IR, and now he may have a bad hamstring problem after an awkward hit.
7. HAMILTON TIGER-CATS [Unchanged]
Overall record: 1-6
Streak: Lost 3
Next: vs. Toronto

The long, dark summer of discontent finally sees some brightness as the Cats may (or may not) move into their new Tim Hortons Field gigs on Labour Day against the Argos. The players will be able to call a place home now for practice and games for the first time since the fall of 2012, giving a professional feel back to the franchise. Given the amount of finishing work still needed on the facility, it might be fair to say both team and field are a work in progress. With second string QB Dan LeFevour now out for the season and first string Zach Collaros still recovering from concussion, it falls to Jeremiah Masoli to run the show. He's thrown 45 passes this season (and two last year as a rookie), completing 21 for a low QB rating of 47.7. He also tossed three picks. Doesn't sound promising, but historically the Cats have done special things in Labour Day games, even when the team wasn't very good. Such as now.
8. MONTREAL ALOUETTES [Up from 9]
Overall record: 1-7
Streak: Lost 6
Next: vs. Ottawa

The spinning roulette wheel that has been the Larks' quarterback situation may have finally landed on a number someone bet - 18. That's Jonathon Crompton, the Tennessee grad and former Eskimos' backup who stepped in at Winnipeg after Alex Brink played an OK first quarter. This was planned, by the way, not a shot at Brink, who was supposed to come back in the third. Crompton was playing too well, awakening the season-long slumber of the offence by going 18 of 29 for 266 yards. He also showed a rusty side, tossing three picks. His most important contribution was bringing the Als' receivers back into the picture (Hey guys ... catch the darn ball). Now he has to learn to finish drives. Defensively, they played well again, holding Winnipeg to 13 first downs, but again, giving up big plays at the wrong times. Can't complain about being on the field too long this time - it was less than 25 minutes. Sorry to jump on coach Tom Higgins, who is a nice man, but not challenging the obvious pass interference in the closing minutes was a bad call.
9. OTTAWA REDBLACKS [Down from 8]
Overall record: 1-7
Streak: Lost 5
Next: at Montreal

There was something positive that came from Ottawa's pounding at the hands of the Stamps - those plaid helmets weren't ready so they had to wear the nice black ones. Other than that, the sun was shining, everyone seemed to have a good time in the stands and DL Jonathan Williams made a great catch off a deflection and ran it in for a six to open the ledger for the RBs. It also closed the ledger as the offence came up with a big, fat zero again against a high quality defence. This team is not nearly good enough to take dumb penalties and they were at it again. Another competitive outing by the Ottawa defenders, however, who had this game 11-7 halfway through the fourth before they ran out of juice. You have to look for discoveries as you build to Season 2 - DB Antoine Pruneau is one of them. He's a nice looking rookie. Can play football, too.

Follow Malcolm Kelly on Twitter @sportsnag

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