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: 10-2
Streak: Lost 1
Next: Home to BC
WR Nik Lewis was chatting with Scott Fisher of the Calgary Sun after the loss to Montreal when he hit the theme perfectly: "Why panic now?" Exactly. Yes, they lost to an Alouettes team with three wins. And the Larks certainly deserved this victory. The White Stallions had a couple of bruised hooves, however, down starting QB Bo Levi Mitchell and especially all-everything RB Jon Cornish, plus most of the defensive line. Drew Tate, who said all the right things about it being on him and how backup QBs have to be ready to play, wasn't in a rhythm all day, precisely because he hasn't had any game action to speak of. Tate's 15 of 30 for 152 yards will improve, especially when Cornish gets back, apparently this week. The defence seemed sloppy and uninvolved at times, trying to tackle with their arms and reputation. Stampeders head coach John Hufnagel, as we've mentioned in past years, loves this loss because he can kick some butt now and they'll pay attention. No panic.
|2. EDMONTON ESKIMOS [Unchanged]|
Overall record: 8-4
Streak: Lost 1
Next: Home to SSK
We gave the Eskies a mulligan for the two Labour Day week losses to Calgary. But after the way Edmonton played on an Eastern swing through Montreal and Hamilton, we're not so sure. The Green and Gold pulled a victory from the beaks of the Larks with a strong fourth quarter and then seemed to have a win in sight this week before letting the Tabbies storm back. Poor Mike Reilly was under the gun all day at QB (sacked five times) and that forced him into errors. In the third, he threw a lame duck interception that floated so high, three guys with beards in a Louisiana duck blind stood up for no reason at all. And the receivers were dropping balls all game. League-leading pass catcher Adarius Bowman, especially, was channeling 2010, when his career almost came to an early end because he couldn't hold the fake pigskin. No running game at all meant Reilly threw 43 passes against nine plays on the ground. It says here these guys will be just fine. I've been wrong before. Lots.
|3. SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS [Unchanged]|
Overall record: 9-3
Streak: Won 1
Next: Away at EDM
When you're the defending Grey Cup champs and playing the one win Redblacks, chaos is not supposed to ensue. And that's what this win was - absolute disorder with a happy ending. The Riders should have lost and but for a force-of-nature performance from Weston Dressler, they would have. How do you give the CFL's most anemic attack 358 yards in net offence (that, after 357 yards allowed the week before), 22 first downs, 200-plus yards in returns and more than 33 minutes in possession? Saskatchewan also got away with two of the season's worst missed calls, both on Dressler's punt return for a touchdown: The Ottawa punter WAS roughed and there WAS an obvious block in the back. No flags. On a bright note, second-week starting QB Tino Sunseri (20 of 32 for 260 yards after going 5 for 9 in the first half) looked much better, ending speculation of bringing someone in, at least for a week. Could not work out why they only ran nine times. Fix the defence. Fast.
|4. B.C. LIONS [Unchanged]|
Overall record: 7-5
Streak: Lost 1
Next: Away at CGY
There's something about B.C. Place that brings out the worst in the Lions. After a humbling loss to Toronto this week, B.C. has now taken four of its five defeats on the home turf. Here's a clue: The Leos come out so high, slapping each other, showing off their guns and trying for the big hit that stupidity rises to the surface. What was DB Torri Williams thinking, for example? He took a bad facemask call (should've been 30 yards) and then a roughing-the-passer penalty within three plays, leading to a Toronto touchdown. Lions LB Solomon Elimimian took a roughing call in the third that led to another major score. B.C. drew 13 flags at 10 yards average per. Far too many. Offensively, QB Kevin Glenn produced 375 net yards. But not enough points. Andrew Harris and Stefan Logan were held to 71 yards rushing total. No consistency on this team at all. The loss gave Winnipeg hope again as it sits two points back of B.C. for what will almost certainly be the crossover playoff spot. Strange seeing PK Paul McCallum miss two field goals in the same game.
|5. WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS [Unchanged]|
Overall record: 6-6
Streak: Lost 3
Next: Home to HAM
The last time QB Brian Brohm went under centre to start a pro football game, he was staring at the New York Jets. Now the former Buffalo Bill is in for ailing Drew Willy and tasked with turning around a suddenly stumbling Winnipeg (four losses in its last five). Willy is a tough act to follow. He was second on the QB stat charts when hurt. This club is beaten up injury-wise. But it has been handed an opening by B.C. after the Lions threw away their game-in-hand advantage. Running into Hamilton at this time seems good karma as the Blue Bombers are last in rush defence and the Ticats can't run that well. DB Troy Stoudermire needs another of his huge return games to give Brohm a chance.
|6. HAMILTON TIGER-CATS [Unchanged]|
Overall record: 4-7
Streak: Won 2
Next: Away at WPG
A nice comeback win for the Ticats, who got into an enthusiastic street fight with Edmonton in front of the home crowd to improve their home mark to 3-0 at The Drive Through. The Cats just seem so happy to be at Tim Hortons Field and it shows in the play. This could have gone south quickly, thanks to a roster decision that saw RB C.J. Gable, coming off injured reserved, dressed with no back him up. When Gable went down on the first play, the Kitties were playing short an offensive claw the rest of the way. QB Zach Collaros pulled it off, however, despite being sacked six times, rousing his charges from a somnolent first half to find 22 points in the second. Collaros still has to stop trying to make something out of nothing at times as it leads to trouble. But that will come. WR Brandon Banks is turning out to be a major weapon, adding 72 yards in kick returns to 111 yards in the air. Props to DL Eric Norwood, who had four big sacks in the first half and seven tackles total to lead a depleted defensive line. Heads up, Winnipeg.
|7. TORONTO ARGONAUTS [Unchanged]|
Overall record: 4-8
Streak: Won 1
Next: BYE Week
QB Ricky Ray had his toys back and played with the league's best defence most of the night in an impressive win by the Argos, their first out on the left coast since 2002. Chad Owens and Andre Durie together in the slots again gives Ray options he hasn't seen much this year and he completed 12 passes to the duo. Owens had eight grabs for 114 yards, Durie caught four for 46 yards and together they opened chances, especially for WR LaVon Brazill, who had 64 yards on four catches with a touchdown. Toronto brought a strong running game with it, featuring Curtis Steele's 73 rushing yards and Steve Slaton's 52 yards. Balanced and steady. Don't kid yourself, the league saw this and knows, as long as Ray has a full attack, Toronto will be a handful. Defensively, this was a major improvement after the second-half collapse in Regina. DB Alex Suber is a good pickup in the secondary and he had a big pick in the early going that blunted B.C.'s momentum. Toronto had zero turnovers and only eight penalties, most of the five-yard variety. Swayze Waters kicked three field goals and punted brilliantly. Toronto is off this week and then plays its first home game in 84 days on Oct. 4. Ridiculous.
|8. MONTREAL ALOUETTES [Unchanged]|
Overall record: 4-8
Streak: Won 1
Next: Away at OTT
Well, how about that? A big win over the best team in the league and maybe there's some hope up on McGill hill, after all. Everything the Larks needed to go well went that way as they used a strong defence and competent offensive attack on the way to 31 points and some peace of mind. At least for a week. QB Jonathon Crompton was a steady 20 of 28 for 220 yards and two touchdowns with no picks. He was immeasurably assisted by RB Brandon Whitaker's 90 yards and a receiving corps that held onto the ball and found holes. Duron Carter (8 catches for 79 yards) and fellow WR James Rodgers (5 for 65) were a handful all day. True, Calgary was missing Cornish, though had played a number of games without him and done just fine. The Als simply did a great job defending, holding the Red and White to 11 first downs and 267 net yards. Montreal has won three of four and, as importantly, bounced back from an awful outing the week before. The Als took just five penalties. Positive vibes moving forward.
|9. OTTAWA REDBLACKS [Unchanged]|
Overall record: 1-10
Streak: Lost 1
Next: Home to MTL
Watching this one unfold at Regina, it was hard not to harken back to when the NBA expansion Toronto Raptors beat the Chicago Bulls in Year 1. Ottawa came so close to an historic upset, losing on a blocked field goal that would have produced a tie at the end of the second overtime. Yes, Redblacks head coach Rick Campbell might have gone for the win on third and five with two minutes left on the Saskatchewan 5-yard line. But it was a tough choice to make and the field goal did put them up eight. QB Henry Burris, who spent all week talking down a possible trade to Saskatchewan, came out amid the boos and jeers and completed 23 passes for 282 yards, three touchdowns and one unfortunate interception in OT. SB Marcus Henry had eight catches and WR Carlton Mitchell, five. Yes, the defence collapsed a bit in the second half. But the point of this was the players - all of them - played with heart and courage and gave their fans a roller-coaster ride for four quarters and two OTs.
Follow Malcolm Kelly on Twitter @sportsnag
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