TORONTO — And then there was one.
For the first time since the 2013 season, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have started 3-0. With Winnipeg picking up its first loss of the season, the Riders are also the only undefeated team in the league, which led to an obvious shift in this week’s power rankings.
Beyond the top spot, this week’s rankings open themselves up to a lot of room for interpretation. We have two teams with 2-1 records, three teams at 1-2, two at 1-1 and one — the Hamilton Tiger-Cats — left without a win at 0-2 as they come out of a bye week.
Week 4 is an East-heavy one, with the Alouettes and REDBLACKS hosting their home openers. It’s also a big week for the Ticats, who need to start to find their way or risk giving up more ground to their divisional rivals.
1. Saskatchewan Roughriders
Last week: 2
Cody Fajardo made 30 of 35 passes and went over 300 yards in the Riders’ win over the REDBLACKS and rushed for a touchdown, while the defence hit Matt Nichols with six sacks. It’s corndogs and lollipops in Regina right now and the Riders get to catch their breath on a bye week while they try to extend their strong start through Labour Day weekend.
2. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Last week: 1
For the first time this season, the Bombers showed their mortal side. The Argos outplayed them at BMO Field, handing Zach Collaros his first loss as the team’s starter. There’s no reason to hit the panic button here on a veteran team that should be able to roll with a punch when it lands on them. How they respond this week, with Calgary visiting on Sunday, should give a good indication of where this group is at.
3. Toronto Argonauts
Last week: 5
Nick Arbuckle‘s debut as a No. 1 QB went about as well as anyone could hope. The Argos had punch out of the gate against the Bombers, jumping out to a quick lead which helped set the tone for a joyous day at BMO Field. The Argos’ QB battle may not be outright settled yet, but Arbuckle fared extremely well against a top-tier defence in his debut. We’ll likely see a lot more of him going forward.
4. Montreal Alouettes
Last week: 4
In their down-to-the-final-play loss in Calgary, the Als showed this past week that they might be just as fun to watch as they were in 2019. They also showed just how undisciplined they could be, taking 16 penalties for 149 yards. They got away with their lack of discipline in their Week 2 debut but were hampered by it this time around. Now comes the tedious task that every coach must hate having to deal with: Getting your team’s penalty situation under control as fast as possible. A hungry and rested Ticats team is waiting for them this week.
5. Edmonton Elks
Last week: 8
In Vancouver, the Elks’ offence finally did what was expected of it, racking up 433 yards AND a passing touchdown in a much-needed win. Also impressive in Edmonton’s first win of the season was its defence, which hounded Michael Reilly all night and got to him for three sacks. All of this without Kwaku Boateng in the lineup.
6. Calgary Stampeders
Last week: 6
With rookie QB Jake Maier getting the start, the Stamps were counted out by many, who saw an Alouettes team that won convincingly a week ago in Edmonton as too tall a task for them. Maier survived his shaky opening quarter and showed the poise of a true starting QB the rest of the way. The Stamps won by a hair (or a hare, if you’re a fan of McMahon Stadium’s most famous resident), but that W is all that matters.
7. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Last week: 7
This is a big week week for Orlondo Steinauer’s Ticats. The reigning East champs haven’t had the start to the season they’ve wanted, managing just a pair of touchdowns through their two losses. Coming out of a bye week, the offence needs to find some punch. A slow start out of the gate isn’t the end of the world but in a short season it does feel a little heavier than normal. We expect to see a hint of desperation in the Ticats on Friday, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
8. BC Lions
Last week: 4
The Lions (read: Michael Reilly) clearly missed Sukh Chungh‘s presence up front and there was a cascading effect on the offence as a whole on Thursday night. Fortunately for the Lions, there’s something of a logjam across the league, record-wise. Going into coach Rick Campbell’s old stomping grounds in Ottawa this weekend could be a rallying point for a team that has yo-yoed in its performances and as a result in these rankings.
9. Ottawa REDBLACKS
Last week: 9
The offence showed some improvement in its second game, with Matt Nichols throwing for 176 yards against a tough Saskatchewan defence. Speaking of defences, the REDBLACKS appear to have a grind-you-down one, which will keep them in position to win games. If Nichols were to take a win away from his old pal Michael Reilly this week, this team would certainly poke its head out of the power rankings cellar.
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