CFL Power Rankings: Week Three
Here's to another great week of CFL football. Not to be outdone by their offensive counterparts, the special teams have been something to behold thus far. Already having matched the total of kick return touchdowns for 2009, special teams have been an instrumental part of the 2010 season.
If teams are looking for success in Week Three, they will need to limit kick returns and prevent good field position.
These power rankings will be updated on a weekly basis throughout the season.
8. Toronto Argonauts
I'm sure this isn't going to make Argo fans happy, but before you post angry comments at the bottom of the page, consider this: on a neutral field, would you make the Argonauts favorites against any other team in the CFL?
I'm not sure about you, but I think I speak for most bookmakers when I say, the Argos would be underdogs against anyone at this point in the season.
Did they look promising? Of course.
Did they deserve to win against Winnipeg? Without a doubt.
Is their win against Winnipeg a sign of things to come? I'm not so sure.
At times, the Argos looked great against Winnipeg. Their offense had their share of struggles, but overall, they had an efficient and productive game.
However, as promising as the Argos looked offensively, there are some new concerns about their defense.
The Argos were awful in pass coverage—Buck Pierce and his receivers were doing everything they wanted. The Argos were even more disappointing when Buck Pierce decided to tuck the ball and run.
All in all, the Argos showed some life, but when their defense is considered the strength of their team, they won't win many games while allowing 34 points.
7. Edmonton Eskimos
I feel for the Eskie fans out there, I really do.
When it finally seemed as though the Eskimos had something clicking on offense, it all comes crashing down in the fourth quarter.
My biggest criticism of the Eskimos was their offensive play calling. They focus on the run, while limiting Ricky Ray to short completions on second and long.
I would argue that Ricky Ray throws the best deep ball in the CFL, but I can usually count on one hand how many times he goes downfield each game.
Against Montreal, it appeared as though they had finally found some rhythm. Ray was completing passes for big gains and they were marching down the field. Their long offensive possessions was giving their defense rest, which payed dividends when Calvillo took the field.
Had it not been for two crucial drops from Fred Stamps and Kelly Campbell, the Eskimos would be riding high, but instead they're 0-2 and visiting the red-hot Saskatchewan Roughriders.
If the play-calling remains the same, Edmonton might be able to stick around with the Riders, but if they start slow, they might not be able to climb from an early hole.
6. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
The Bombers played Thursday night's game like it was already over. Their defense lacked focus and their offense lacked desperation.
Climbing out of an early hole showed us some of the character on the Winnipeg team, however, when Toronto fought back, the Bombers just weren't up for the challenge.
Bomber fans have a lot to be excited about, but if their team doesn't rebound this week, they could lose a lot of their early momentum.
In Week Three, the Bombers are visiting the desperate Tiger Cats in a game that should give us a very strong indication for the future of these teams.
It's a little ridiculous to talk about playoff implications in Week Three, but this game will create a lot of momentum for the winner, while creating a major sense of desperation for the loser.
5. Hamilton Tiger Cats
It would be easy to blame Hamilton's recent loss on the leg of Sandro Deangelis, having missed two field goals, which would have all but sealed a Tiger Cat victory.
However, Hamilton's special teams—more specifically, their kick coverage—should carry more of the blame than Deangelis. Hamilton had several opportunities to pin Calgary deep in their half of the field; however, shoddy tackling and a general lack of patience lead to big gains for the Stampeders on kick returns.
Often times, in analyzing a game, we tend to only focus on offense and defense. Saturday's game showed us exactly how important special teams can be.
Had Hamilton prevented Calgary from gaining good field position, they were all but guaranteed a victory. Not only that, but if you can rely on a kicker to make field goals from long yardage, you're giving yourself a big advantage in close defensive games.
If Hamilton plan on winning games through attrition, they'll need to improve their special teams immensely.
4. BC Lions
At the risk of alienating readers from the West Coast, I have to admit that I don't think the Lions belong at fourth on the power rankings.
They beat Edmonton, who could be ranked eighth come week's end, and lost convincingly at home to top-ranked Saskatchewan.
More importantly, thus far, the Lions have failed to impress me on either side of the ball. Jamal Robertson carried the Lions to a victory in Week One, but when he struggled in Week Two, the passing game wasn't able to share the burden.
Defensively, they've been getting by mainly on the strength of Wally Buono's coaching, but their lack of personnel showed through as the game wore on against Saskatchewan.
This week, hosting Montreal, I'll keep a close eye on their offensive passing game. In their first two games, Montreal have allowed more yards through the air than any other team. If BC are going to show some promise in the pass game, it should happen on Friday night.
3. Calgary Stampeders
For my money, Calgary still isn't productive enough offensively. They amass more yardage than any other team, but regularly fail to get the most of their drives. They have been more than disappointing in the red zone and settle for field goals at an infuriating rate.
They have the tools to compete with any team in the CFL. Offensively, they're well-balanced and have playmakers at every position. Defensively, they have a great front four which helps them keep their opponents offense on the sidelines.
If the Stampeders could only capitalize on their field position, I would have them as a favorite to lift the Grey Cup in 2010. Until then, they won't be able to match points with Saskatchewan when it really matters.
2. Montreal Alouettes
I hesitate to say it, but it appears as though the Alouettes' dominance of the East(and the West, for that matter) is finally coming to an end.
Anthony Calvillo isn't getting any younger, Avon Cobourne hasn't rushed for more than 55 yards in their first two games, but more importantly, their defense has been nonexistent through two weeks.
With the talent that is Marc Tresman on the sidelines, I don't foresee these problems being sustained throughout the season. However, the writing is on the wall: The other teams in the East are catching up and Montreal aren't doing much to distance themselves.
At this point, I can't predict anything less than a Grey Cup appearance for the Als in 2010; however, if their problems persist, it isn't going to be an easy road.
1. Saskatchewan Roughriders
After their inspiring comeback in Week One, I gave strong consideration to moving the Riders to first overall. On the heels of their most recent victory, they've given me no other choice.
The Riders have the defense we have all come to expect from them, but in 2010, they have an offense that is seemingly head and shoulders above the rest of the field.
Darian Durant has battled with inconsistency throughout his entire CFL career; however, with Wes Cates healthy and the receiving corps of Bagg, Dressler, Rodriguez, Fantuz, and Getzlaf, it appears as though Durant has put his inconsistencies behind him.
I won't go so far as saying they have the best defense in the CFL; however, they have a defense that can limit their opponents to the point where their offense can win them games. They won't be expected to shut out their opponents, they'll just need to do enough to get their offense back on the field.
Week Three: Picks
Calgary Stampeders -5.5 vs Toronto Argonauts
Hamilton Tiger Cats -3.5 vs Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Montreal Alouettes -5 vs BC Lions
Montreal Alouettes/BC Lions OVER 54
Saskatchewan Roughriders -7 vs Edmonton Eskimos