The Toronto Argonauts continue through a grueling road trip with a replacement squad and it doesn’t seem to matter.
The Argos are receiving tremendous production from interim quarterback Zach Collaros, while starter Ricky Ray recovers from a shoulder injury. All-purpose player Chad Owens, voted CFL’s Most Outstanding Player last season, has missed the last two games with bruised ribs. Winning without these premier players has allowed the Argos to build confidence and trust in one another while leading the East Division.
The Argos have recorded three consecutive wins away from home, including wins in Montreal, Saskatchewan and Calgary. Their latest win, 33-27 over the Stampeders, was a rematch of last year’s Grey Cup, which the Argos won. The Stamps hadn’t lost at home in five previous starts this season.
Meanwhile in Saskatchewan the Roughriders, who started out 5-0, have suffered three consecutive defeats and are 3-4 in their last seven. They have suffered two-heartbreaking defeats at home in their last two games.
All told, week 13 in the CFL Power Rankings has created some shuffling at the top.
1. Toronto (8-4): What the Argos are doing is phenomenal and you have to credit a lot of this to good coaching and quality recruiting. The Argos are beating quality teams in hostile stadiums without their best players. Ray and Owens should be returning to the lineup in another two games.
2. Calgary (9-3): Running back Jon Cornish has been limited to less than 100 rushing yards in the Stamps’ last two games, and he is a huge part of their offence. You have to wonder if there is a starting quarterback controversy brewing veteran Kevin Glenn and splendid sophomore Bo Levi Mitchell.
3. B.C. (8-4): Second-year quarterback Thomas DeMarco showed a lot of poise against Saskatchewan in his first start, particularly late in the game and in front of a noisy crowd. Winning on the road has not been difficult for the Lions, so give them credit. B.C. is tied with Saskatchewan for second in the West but look a lot sounder.
4. Saskatchewan (8-4): The Riders are imploding in all three phases of the game and creating far too many turnovers. Receiver Geroy Simon said after the latest loss the veterans need to step up their accountability. Head coach Corey Chamblin may need to start backup quarterback Drew Willy because starter Darian Durant is struggling and taking far too many hits.
5. Hamilton (6-6): Shored up their field-goal kicking woes beating Montreal 28-26, but it’s hard to get a true read on this team. Henry Burris’ quarterback rating has dropped significantly in the last two games and he’s turning over the ball too much. The Good Hank/Bad Hank personalities directly influence how this team plays.
6. Montreal (4-8): Lost their third in a row without injured starting quarterback Anthony Calvillo, but Josh Neiswander at least showed some consistency reclaiming the interim starting job. The defence continues to play hard. The Als are perilously clinging to the final playoff spot and need to produce an improved run game.
7. Edmonton (3-9): Back-to-back wins over Winnipeg have pumped life into the Eskimos, but they still have lot of problems. Let’s see how they fare at home this week against the red-hot Argos before declaring they have recovered from the dead.
8. Winnipeg (2-10): It isn’t bad enough that the Bombers blow another game, but head coach Tim Burke blows off some steam afterward by criticizing one of his own players. Simply a brutal team, although the Winnipeg media is saying there is still hope. Don’t believe it.