Heading into the eighth week of the CFL season, the Edmonton Eskimos are still undefeated while the winless Hamilton Tiger-Cats can’t win no matter what changes they make. The balance of power is clearly in the West.
Here’s how the league’s nine teams stack up based on recent form.
The Eskimos are off to their best start in 56 years. That says something considering the franchise’s storied history. How long will they be able to tap into their depth to continue to turn out wins? Edmonton already had 18 players on the six-game injured list before losing Doug Parrish, Justin Sorensen and Brandon Zylstra to injury last week. Next up they have the struggling Redblacks.
Two games in five days was no issue for the Stamps who seem to be getting better with time. The Stampeders beat the two southern Ontario teams by a combined score of 128-35. The Stampeders have a bye week and then take on B.C. in a game that will likely have playoff implications even this early in the season.
The BC Lions made a smart decision to bring back Ricky Foley. The three-time Grey Cup champion was the Most Outstanding Canadian in his last season with the Lions. The 35-year-old defensive end has made a career of getting after the passer and that is where the Leos need help the most, registering just 13 sacks thus far.
In back-to-back weeks Matt Nichols has lead a drive late to help Winnipeg come back and win. Justin Medlock hit the game-winning field goal in a rain storm with a new holder. It marked his sixth field goal in the game. This is the year of the kicker and none have been better than Medlock. I’d argue the Most Outstanding Player in the league thus far has been the Bombers kicker.
Toronto lost yet another game to a Western opponent but what might be more concerning is they lost their QB and MVP Ricky Ray due to yet another right shoulder injury. When they traded Drew Willy at the end of the pre-season they left themselves thin in the event this very situation occurred. Although brilliant when healthy, the 37-year-old Ray has struggled to stay off the IR as an Argonaut. Ray took part in the Argos’ walkthrough and is being listed as day-to-day before the East Division showdown with Montreal this week. If he is out for an extended period of time the Argonauts are in trouble. They did get relatively good news on the injury front as Cleyon Laing’s knee injury is not season ending although he’ll be out 6-8 more weeks.
It might not seem like it but the Riders are getting better under Chris Jones. Problem is they are taking baby steps in a division that is miles ahead of the field. Both of their wins are against East teams and were followed by blowouts against West teams. The Riders have lost 15 straight West Division road games. They’ve only won three of their last 29 games against the West overall. Instead of worrying about a QB controversy after Brandon Bridge’s impressive two TD passes in relief, fans in Saskatchewan should be watching the standings for East crossover playoff scenarios.
Montreal had a long bye week and it came at a great time. The Alouettes had 14 days off to prepare for a game that is worth double in the standings. With former Alouettes Jim Popp, Marc Trestman S.J. Green and Bear Woods heading back to Montreal for the first time this is a game both sides have circled on the calendar.
Another week, another close loss for the defending Grey Cup champs. Two straight weeks Ottawa has lost on a last-second field goal. The schedule is no longer an excuse as the Redblacks were rested and at home but still couldn’t hold on to a fourth-quarter lead. Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised the defending champs don’t look the same, as their depth chart shows they aren’t the same team. Only 14 of the 24 starters who played in the Grey Cup are back.
A midweek practice brawl may have inspired them. The hiring of June Jones may help offensively educate them. But the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are still winless. They are running out of time to continue to say “it’s early.” Their only saving grace is the rest of the division is almost equally as inept. It is important to note Hamilton has played five of their first six games against the tougher West Division. As the schedule begins to even out they’ll have a chance to get back in the race by Thanksgiving.