Welcome to the CFL Power Rankings, post-Labour Day edition. The Toronto Argonauts are the CFL’s seemingly unstoppable machine, still clinging to the top spot.
Similar to how a famous football coach in the NFL once said that the season starts after Thanksgiving, one can argue that in the CFL the season starts after Labour Day. The summer fades away into our collective memories and there are barely two months left in the regular season. Every win means a better shot at the playoffs, and every loss runs the risk of being very costly down the road.
Don’t forget to check out our CFL odds. See our Grey Cup odds below.
Let’s get down to business.
CFL Power Rankings
1. Toronto Argonauts (9-1, spread: 9-1)
It looks increasingly unlikely that another club is going to have a better regular season than the Argonauts. Not impossible, but unlikely. The defending champions are handling their business swiftly and confidently. Assuming they remain healthy, there’s no reason why this team would suddenly stop playing good football. Best defence, second-best offence, and a 9-1 record. It doesn’t even matter much that QB Chad Kelly is only fourth in passing yards. He’s first in rushing touchdowns and has 18 TDs through the air. He’s getting it done when it matters most.
2. BC Lions (8-4, spread: 7-4-1)
This is where performances against the spread start to matter. BC has an inferior win-loss record than Winnipeg, but a superior tally ATS. They further communicated their threat level to the CFL when they entered Montreal on Labour Day weekend and made what many thought was a good defence look terrible. WR Alexander Hollins is having a great year (879 yards, six TDs), and fellow deep threats Keon Hatcher (820 yards) and Dominique Rhymes (five TDs) together make a potent air attack.
3. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (9-3, spread: 6-6)
The loss on Sunday to regional rivals Saskatchewan didn’t hurt the Blue Bombers enough to lose their grip on first place in the West. Nevertheless, it was another example of how the opposition has often played this formidable team very tough in 2023. The most startling statistic for our purposes as a sportsbook is that they’ve failed to cover five of their last seven spreads. Winnipeg is extremely talented and may be good for player props, but not so much for the spread. RB Brady Oliveira is having a sensational season (990 yards on the ground, six scores).
4. Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-5, spread: 5-5-1)
Speaking of the team that defeated the Blue Bombers last week, the Roughriders are proving everyone wrong. They’d surely like to have Trevor Harris back, but Jake Dolegala is doing a mighty fine job in his stead. Not only have they won two in a row with him at quarterback, but they’ve scored 66 points in both games combined. He’s really flinging the ball and doing it well. LB Larry Dean (65 tackles) is having another impressive campaign.
5. Montreal Alouettes (6-5, spread: 5-6)
This placement is perfect for the Alouettes. Fifth in a nine-team league, a 6-5 win-loss tally in the standings, and a 5-6 record to show for themselves against the spread. We wrote in the previous edition how they had stomped over opposition they should vanquish by playing their best, thus their four-game winning streak. Since then, they’ve played the second and first-placed teams in the West and lost. This is who the Alouettes are. They’re okay, but not great, except for WR Austin Mack (971 yards, good for first).
6. Calgary Stampeders (4-8, spread: 6-6)
It remains to be seen if the incredible comeback win over the Elks in the Labour Day Classic will set the Stampeders on the road to recovering their season. They’ve shown far too often in 2023 an inability to close games they surely could have won. Also, defeating a 2-9 (at the time) Edmonton squad after falling behind by 15 points in the fourth quarter doesn’t exactly suggest brilliance. The one constant is linebacker Micah Awe, who leads the CFL with an incredible 85 tackles so far.
7. Edmonton Elks (2-10, spread: 5-7)
No, we’re not being cute. This is a sportsbook, which means readers are keen to know how clubs perform against the spread. However miserable the Edmonton Elks’ season has been, they’ve covered the spread five times, which is more than can be said about the next two teams in this exercise. Furthermore, the offence is clicking much better with QB Tre Ford at the helm. In fact, Taylor Cornelius hasn’t been completely banished. He’s a goal-line threat with four TDs so far.
8. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (4-7, spread: 4-7)
It’s unfortunate because earlier this summer there was so much excitement surrounding the arrival of QB Bo Levi Mitchell from Calgary. He’s barely seen any action and in the interim, the Tiger-Cats’ season has taken a sharp turn into misery. They were hammered without mercy at home on Labour Day by the Argonauts. At the very least RB James Butler is putting up nice stats (701 yards and six scores).
9-Ottawa Redblacks (3-8, spread: 4-7)
It feels a bit mean placing the Redblacks in last place since they didn’t even play last week, but hey, you snooze you lose. The Dustin Crum magic is maybe just beginning to wear off. He helped the club earn a couple of entertaining wins with late-game heroics, but losses are starting to pile up (five in a row). This is the CFL, where a 3-8 record by Labour Day is not enough to count a team out of the playoff race. Even so, Ottawa needs to turn things around immediately.