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B.C. wide receiver Akeem Foster makes a leaping catch against the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Week 13. ((Liam Richards/Canadian Press))

Once a week, Malcolm Kelly breaks down the balance of power in the Canadian Football League.

1. B.C. LIONS [Up from 5]
Overall record: 6-6
Streak: Five wins

Pretty … darn … impressive. A thorough beat down on the host Riders by the CFL’s hottest team. Everything clicked. The water boy had his best day. Two sacks, two interceptions, a forced fumble as the defence dominated. Kicker Paul McCallum continues to be a machine. This week, the Lions go back into B.C. Place after a season-and-a-half away, and that means they’ll be on a high. Could they really challenge for first in the West? You betcha.
2. MONTREAL ALOUETTES [Up from 4]
Overall record: 7-5
Streak: One win

An excellent bounce back for the Als, beating Edmonton out West. Losing QB Anthony Calvillo with a possible concussion is obviously a problem. That 6-for-6 by backup Adrian McPherson was a positive, certainly. McPherson is a scrambler and that’s a new challenge for defences. When you have the second stringer in, there’s more pressure on the running game to pick up the pace and Brandon Whitaker can do that.
3. WINNIPEG BLUE BOMBERS [Down from 1]
Overall record: 8-4
Streak: Lost one

The Bombers were beaten to a pulp by the Argos this weekend. That’s not a shot, these things happen in football because it’s a mean game. But they are down two QBs, two RBs, an OL, two DLs and it’s time to send out an SOS. Chatting with coach Paul LaPolice, he said it’s important to let his men know the context of what each game means. Friday, against Montreal, it’s about whatever backups are playing (could be a bunch) coming up with the performance of their lives in a battle for first place.
4. HAMILTON TIGER-CATS [Up from 7]
Overall record: 6-6
Streak: One win

The Kitties needed someone to step up and take matters into his own hands. So out came Marcus Thigpen, a career kick returner and college running back who set up as an inside receiver and dominated the win over Calgary from start to finish with three touchdowns, including a massive 115-yard score off a missed field goal. (Hamilton writer Drew Edwards said Thigpen had lobster in New Brunswick before this one. Do they sell lobster in The Hammer?). Danger in Toronto this week. Must be consistent.
5. CALGARY STAMPEDERS [Down from 2]
Overall record: 7-5
Streak: Two losses

Stamps have now lost three of four, but you can’t pin this beating by Hamilton on the offence. A Calgary team scoring 36 points should win (and yes, the three turnovers didn’t help). This team lost because the Cats ran the defenders all over the park. Perhaps everyone was high on the real grass? Coach John Hufnagel started Jon Cornish at running back instead of Joffrey Reynolds because he wanted to shake things up. Wrong side of the ball. Special team coverage has to be better.
6. EDMONTON ESKIMOS [Down from 3]
Overall record: 7-5
Streak: One loss

Strange this one should have happened when the receiving corps is finally healthy again for the first time since Week 4. The defence simply allowed too much, too many times for the offence to really have a chance. Edmonton’s corners were especially taken advantage of. Coach Kavis Reed said his team was horrible. They may not have been that bad, but we get his point.
7. SASKATCHEWAN ROUGHRIDERS [Down from 6]
Overall record: 4-8
Streak: One loss

The bounce from the return of Ken Miller as head coach seems to be over. Maybe the problem wasn’t the guy on the sidelines, after all. This group was outplayed by the lowly Argos for most of last week’s game, and were simply humiliated by B.C. this week. No sacks. No forced turnovers. QB Darian Durant was merely awful. Wes Cates isn’t giving much out of the backfield. Defence was porous. There is time to get it straightened out again, even with the tough finishing schedule these guys face.
8. TORONTO ARGONAUTS [Unchanged]
Overall record: 3-9
Streak: One win

But for the two Doug Flutie years when the defence was a second thought, the history of winning Argonaut clubs has been the same – beat the snot out of the other guy and try to score enough points to win. Friday against the Bombers the classic recipe was front and centre as the Double Blue left seven Winnipegers black and blue. That win may have been weird and ugly, but as coach Jim Barker pointed out, when the last place club beats the front runners, no-one gives a darn whether it was pretty.