CFL Power Rankings: Week 14 | Football | CBC Sports

CFLCFL Power Rankings: Week 14

Posted: Monday, September 29, 2014 | 03:05 PM

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Defensive end Eric Norwood had one of Hamilton's five sacks in a 16-11 win over Winnipeg. (John Woods/Canadian Press) Defensive end Eric Norwood had one of Hamilton's five sacks in a 16-11 win over Winnipeg. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

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Behind a fiercer-looking defence, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats move up two spots to No. 4 in our weekly look at 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: 11-2
Streak: Won 1
Next: at Saskatchewan

Two themes seem to be dominating fan chat right now -- either this is the Year of the Fabulous Defence, or it's the Year of the Really Crappy Offence. In defence of the offence this has also been a season where more key attacking players have gone down with injuries than in recent memory, but the bottom line is games are looking ever more like bad NFL presentations. The Stamps, however, have a weapon they can turn to when nothing else is working (and believe me, nothing else was working against B.C.). Jon Cornish ran 20 times for 156 yards, continually giving the White Stallions field position they had no idea what to do with. Those 14 total points did not include a major score, thanks to a fumble, dropped balls, overthrows -- all the little things that will kill you. Stamps' attack under backup Drew Tate is gaining some yards but committing too many mistakes. Help may be on the way as Bo Mitchell was in uniform on the sidelines, apparently experiencing a miraculous recovery from a leg injury. Lourdes? Must be, there's a good chance he's starting this Friday.
2. EDMONTON ESKIMOS [Unchanged]
Overall record: 9-4
Streak: Won 1
Next: at Toronto

What a glorious night for the Eskies, pitching the first CFL shutout by the club in 11 years, and doing it at home against the hated Riders with all those Saskatchewan fans in the stands. Did we not say they'd be fine after last week? Yes, we did. And yes, that was the Darian Durant-less Riders out there, but still the defending champs. RB John White (17 carries, 192 yards), back from a broken finger, did a great job. His 36-yarder for a TD in the first quarter turned out, shockingly, to be the winning score. It also allowed the club to balance running vs. passing. This win is important for much more than the two points. Clubs that make sudden improvement after being awful (four wins in 2013) are vulnerable to collapse when things start to go wrong. Now, the Green and Gold see they are strong enough to rebound. Have to be careful in Toronto, however. That's Ricky Ray across the line, not Tino Sunseri.
3. SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS [Unchanged]
Overall record: 9-4
Streak: Lost 1
Next: vs. Calgary

When the Edmonton promotions department came up with the "Horrible Human Beings" idea in describing the Saskatchewan fans (all in fun, you know), it was easy to wonder if this would fire up the opposition. Nobody counted on the Riders offence being, well, horrible. For the first time since 1986, the attack came up with nothing ... nada ... zero ... zilch. The loss of star QB Darian Durant was thought to be tough to swallow, but not chokingly so. Two backup pivots in Tino Sunseri and Seth Doege produced 11 first downs, 114 yards passing, 155 net and a big blank on the scoreboard. The offensive line gave up six sacks, some because the QBs are taking too long, but you have to suck it up in this situation and block. There were seven three-and-outs. All this without the awful rush defence in the first half that allowed a breathtaking 179 ground yards by Edmonton and 299 in total. With nine wins in the bag this club won't miss the playoffs, but it won't be in them for long unless they find a quarterback. And someone to block for him.
4. HAMILTON TIGER-CATS [Up from 6]
Overall record: 5-7
Streak: Won 3
Next: vs. B.C.

Cats are 4-1 in September and they're doing it by riding a high at the new home, and playing smash-mouth football on the road. Both defences pounded each other for four quarters in Winnipeg, but it was the Kitties who came out on top because they made fewer mistakes. Hamilton came up with just 218 yards in net offence and won anyway. A key stat saw 25 total flags and only 10 of those going to the visitors. Cats aren't used to winning the penalty battle. Defence had five sacks, and is looking stronger now, adding a player here or there, including Justin Hickman (Can you please give him a real DL number?), back from two years with the Indianapolis Colts. QB Zach Collaros had a so-so outing, going 20 of 36 for 182 yards and making a few decisions he'd like back. Still only 11 rushing plays -- more of a ground attack is needed. What's key is the Tigers have the winning feeling again.
5. B.C. LIONS [Down from 4]
Overall record: 7-6
Streak: Lost 2
Next: at Hamilton

Forget the defeat for a moment ... the Lions may have lost their most important offensive weapon after Andrew Harris went down with a leg injury in the fourth quarter at Calgary. The star runner was on 105 combined yards for the night and keeping his team in the contest. Now, he could be out for a long while. Things were going well for the Leos early -- first score, playing a professional, controlled road game against the league's best. Then they went to sleep. Kevin Glenn (14 of 25, 127 yards, two picks) tosses an interception, there's a drop, an overthrow and it all just stops dead. B.C. had 188 yards net in the first half then just 53 in the second 30 minutes. They certainly played well defensively, keeping the Stamps from any major score and the point total down to more than low enough for a win. While Leos fans have been looking ahead, they now have to look behind where Winnipeg is still there and the East is closing fast to take away the cross-over playoff berth.
6. WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS [Down from 5]
Overall record: 6-7
Streak: Lost 4
Next: at Ottawa

Bombers need to work on their hurry up offence after almost coming back on Hamilton for the second time this season. Let's see ... 1st and goal, QB Drew Willy tosses a corner pattern to his left that sails over everyone's head. 2nd and goal, Willy takes a time count violation. Drew ... the clock is just in front of you, to the left, and it's really big. On 3rd and goal, Willy goes to his right and overthrows everybody. Shame, this, because the Winnipeg pivot showed such courage even dressing off a shoulder injury two weeks ago, and finished this one 27 of 41, 303 yards. He was also sacked five times. Seriously? You know your big guy is hurting and you don't keep the Cats off of him? Then there were the seven holding calls. And the 15 total flags. There have been bad snaps all over the league this year (slippery balls?) and one of those by the Bombers led to a Cats touchdown. Troy Stoudermire is still worth the price of admission running the ball back and overall Winnipeg had 192 yards in returns. I suppose we can count this coming week in Ottawa as a win. Can't we?
7. TORONTO ARGONAUTS [Unchanged -- Bye]
Overall record: 4-8
Streak: Won 1
Next: vs. Edmonton

When the Argos announced star RB Chad Kackert's "retirement" and retention as conditioning coach back in camp, it seemed obvious they were keeping options (and salary cap space) open until the 2012 Grey Cup MVP was ready to play sometime in the fall. Now he's back on the practice roster, so keep an eye on this. Argos are getting healthy and competitive at the right time, though they have to notice there likely won't be a third playoff spot in the East and thus have to finish top-two before dreaming about being healthy for the post-season. By the time they kick off this Saturday, the Double Blue will have been away from home for 84 days. Now it's five of the last six at the Rogers Centre, all but one against the East. Key games all.
8. MONTREAL ALOUETTES [Unchanged]
Overall record: 5-8
Streak: Won 2
Next: Bye

This was not a good outing by an Als club that had played so well against Calgary the week before. Defensively, they came up with some big plays, especially the forced fumble run back for a long touchdown, but also gave up too many chances. Luckily, it was to a club in Ottawa functionally unable to take advantage. Redblacks had 25 first downs and over 300 yards in net offence. It's OK to let down when you're 10-1, not when in the fight of your life. QB Jonathon Crompton, who has to find consistency, was an awful 14 -for-29, 181 yards and two picks as the Larks' attack produced a mere eight of 15 total points. Particularly concerning was the 14 penalties, too many because they lost concentration and control. Marc Trestman, now head coach in Chicago, trained his Als defence to be just the other side of too aggressive because it also created turnovers and big stops. This group is far over that line at times. Rest week coming up then a currently beatable Riders club.
9. OTTAWA REDBLACKS [Unchanged]
Overall record: 1-11
Streak: Lost 9
Next: vs. Winnipeg

A nice outing by the defence was hardly noticed by the paying fans in Our Nation's Capitol Region, as they were busy raining boos on an offence that couldn't even shoot itself in the foot. It was moving fine, thanks to a 25-of-32, 253-yard outing by QB Henry Burris, but could not pick up a darn yard when it was most needed. Twice the RBs missed from third and one on the goal line, and another time from in deep. Coaches ... you don't have an offensive line, it's dangerous back there for Burris. Get the ball out wide or toss a short pass. Use a little bit of creativity. That word "creativity" does not mean going on third and one from the shotgun, by the way. On the last play of the game, after Burris marched his club into position at the seven, Alphonse and Gaston* appeared in the form of no huddle, not enough players on the field, a ball snapped before the QB was ready, and a penalty that made the rest meaningless anyway. Let's work on the play calling.
* A famous American comic strip featuring two bumbling, but highly polite characters.

Follow Malcolm Kelly on Twitter @sportsnag


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