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CFL 2023 Week 18 Power Rankings: Hamilton And Montreal Clinch Playoff Berths, BC And Winnipeg Hold Serve Ahead Of Pivotal Showdown

Seventeen weeks of the CFL 2023 regular season are in the books. Only four weeks remain before the Grey Cup playoffs commence. Five postseason spots have now been claimed, leaving only one playoff spot remaining.

Here are the CFL regular season standings heading into Week 18.

CFL 2023 Regular Season Standings


Winnipeg Blue Bombers – x151140 224793137-1-04-3-07-2-0
BC Lions – x151140224203346-1-05-3-08-2-0
Saskatchewan Roughriders15690123294584-3-02-6-05-6-0
Calgary Stampeders15411083324002-5-02-6-02-6-0
Edmonton Elks15411083094022-6-02-5-02-8-0


Toronto Argonauts – y141220 244603097-0-05-2-08-0-0
Montreal Alouettes– x15870163563483-4-05-3-05-3-0
Hamilton Tiger-Cats – x15780143203933-5-04-3-03-6-0
Ottawa REDBLACKS15411083634113-5-01-6-00-7-0

y – Clinched Division
x – Clinched Playoff Berth

Here’s how I rank the CFL heading into Week 18 from the bottom to the top.

CFL 2023: Week 17 Power Rankings

#9: Ottawa REDBLACKS (4-11 )

  • Last Week’s Ranking: 9
  • Last Game: 32-15 Home Loss To Montreal
  • Next game: At Montreal, Monday, October 9

The Redblacks, in their biggest spot of the season, came up small at home against Montreal in Week 17.

‘RNation’ mastered the art of “Error Nation” against the Alouettes. A comedy of errors, three key turnovers by QB Dustin Crum, all inexplicably in the scoring zone proved disastrous against Montreal. It took Ottawa four quarters before they finally crossed the goal line for a score late.

Saturday’s loss brought Ottawa to 0-7 this season against the East. They are 4-4 against the West.

As absurd as it seems, at 4-11, Ottawa is still mathematically alive for a playoff spot, but now their only pathway to the postseason is through the West Division, as both Montreal and Hamilton clinched playoff spots on Saturday.

Humor me for a moment while I spell out the scenario that gets Ottawa in.

The Redblacks have to win their three remaining games — a Thanksgiving Monday rematch with the Als in Montreal and then a home-and-home series with the Argos. Ottawa then must hope that Saskatchewan loses each of its final three games. Oh, and they need Calgary and Edmonton to win no more than two of three remaining games as well.

#8: Calgary Stampeders (4-11)

  • Last Week’s Ranking: 8
  • Last Game: 22-15 road loss to Hamilton
  • Next game: Week 19, Home versus Saskatchewan, Friday, October 13

Putting together a complete effort week in and week out has been a conundrum for Calgary all season. Week 17 provided another example of that. As the Stampeders marched out to an early lead, only to see Hamilton storm past them as the game progressed.

Calgary controlled the action for better parts of the game against Hamilton, outpacing them in first downs (21-14) and plays from scrimmage (63-49). But Dave Dickenson’s troops, like they have proven all season, weren’t good enough to pull away from an opponent; they left the door open for the Ti-Cats to surge past them.

The Stamps suffered a third straight loss and remained tied for fourth in the West Division with the idle Edmonton Elks (4-11). The team, Calgary, is chasing for what seems like an improbable playoff spot; the Roughriders (6-9) are third in the West.

One of the bottom-tier teams in the West will likely rise up and claim that last postseason spot. In the past, Calgary would’ve been the surefire bet to accomplish that. But you can’t trust them. The CFL’s model of consistency over the last two decades has seen their 2023 season embody inconsistency.

#7: Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-9)

  • Last Week’s Ranking: 6
  • Last game: 33-26 Road Loss To B.C.
  • Next game: Home versus Hamilton, Saturday, October 7

The final score of Saskatchewan’s fourth straight loss, 33-26 to the Lions in BC, is very misleading. The Riders were outplayed thoroughly by the Leos on Friday night, falling behind 33-11, before a late rally made the final box score a bit more palpable.

On the bright side, at least Saskatchewan finally showed some fight after getting their tails whooped by everyone for the last month. The Riders defence, however, is still a punching bag for opponents. Vernon Adams and the Lions completely shredded Saskatchewan in Week 17, generating over 500 yards.

The Roughriders, despite the rough sledding they have encountered the last month, still control their own destiny for the postseason. A weakened West sees them with an easy path to the playoffs. They have a four-point lead over the Stamps, Elks, and Redblacks with three games remaining on their schedule.

It won’t be pretty, but it’s possible that all the Riders need to do to punch their ticket is win one of their last three regular season games.

#6: Edmonton Elks (4-11)

  • Last Week’s Ranking: 6
  • Last game: 37-29 Home Loss To British Columbia
  • Next game: At Toronto, Friday, October 6

It seems ludicrous to have a 4-11 team ranked sixth in the power rankings over a six-win team like Saskatchewan. But the truth is that Edmonton has played better football in the last month and change than the three teams below them on this list.

On paper, Edmonton’s task of running the table and stealing a playoff spot looks daunting. After all, they will face Toronto, Montreal, and Winnipeg to close out their regular season in must-win scenarios, with two of those games being on the road. However, the teams Edmonton is squaring off against might not have much to play for.

Nevertheless, the Elks playing meaningful games in October, no matter how long it lasts, is something very few foresaw happening in the near future, especially not in 2023.

#5: Hamilton Tiger-Cats (7-8)

  • Last Week’s Ranking: 5
  • Last game: 22-15 Home Victory Over Calgary
  • Next game: At Saskatchewan, Saturday, October 7

The Tiger-Cats got off to a sluggish start against Calgary at home in Week 17. But thanks to the insertion of quarterback Matthew Shiltz (225 yards, two majors), who replaced a slumping Taylor Powell. Hamilton was able to scratch and claw their way to victory over the Stamps.

The Ti-Cats are headed to the playoffs for a fifth straight season. And by doing so, they keep hope alive for a potential home playoff game, maybe more than one, with the dream being a shot of redemption in the Grey Cup in Hamilton.

The Tiger-Cats have won four of their last six games. Not counting games against the Argos. They are 7-4 this season against everyone else, including a 4-2 mark against Western opponents, with two of those wins coming against Winnipeg and British Columbia.

It hasn’t always been pretty easy this season. But Hamilton is fully capable of going on a run and competing for the ultimate prize when the smoke settles.

#4: Montreal Alouettes (8-7)

  • Last Week’s Ranking: 4
  • Last game: 32-15 Road Victory Over Ottawa
  • Next game: Home versus Ottawa, Monday, October 9

The Montreal Alouettes have secured their spot in the Eastern Semi-Finals. The next step for the Als is securing a home playoff game.

In week 17, Montreal dominated Ottawa in the first three quarters, leading 22-0 entering the fourth quarter. Jason Maas’s team completely outclassed the Redblacks.

The now 8-7 Alouettes are undefeated this season against the rest of the CFL pack. Their record is 8-0 against teams not named Winnipeg, B.C., or Toronto. That’s the reason they are headed to the postseason. They’ve conquered the rest of the field with relative ease. As evidenced by the Als’ latest conquest over Ottawa.

Montreal is a well-balanced team that might get their chance to step up against the league’s elite again when November rolls around.

#3: B.C. Lions (11-4)

  • Last Week’s Ranking: 3
  • Last game: 33-26 home victory over Saskatchewan
  • Next game: Home versus Winnipeg, Friday, October 6

The Riders and their porous defence played the role of sacrificial lamb in Week 17. They were the perfect tune-up for Vernon Adams (27/36 458 yards, three touchdowns) and BC’s offence, which hadn’t looked as explosive as they did against Saskatchewan in quite some time.

The Lions surged to a 33-11 lead, amassing over 500 yards, before going into cruise control late against the Riders.

By virtue of B.C., rounding back to form at BC Place on Friday night. The stage is set for next week’s likely winner-take-all showdown for the West division crown between the Lions and Bombers.

The Lions have a chance to not only exact revenge against a Winnipeg team that trounced them 50-14 back in Week 9. But B.C. can ensure that the road to a Grey Cup goes through BC Place.

#2: Winnipeg Blue Bombers (11-4)

  • Last Week’s Ranking: 2
  • Last game: 31-21 Home Victory Over Toronto
  • Next game: At British Columbia, Friday, October 6

It took four quarters, but the Bombers eventually took care of business in Week 17 against a purposely diminished Toronto Argonauts team.

The Blue Bombers returned off the bye, coming off a loss to Hamilton, facing a unique challenge, going up against a team playing a game in preseason mode. It was almost a nothing to gain, and everything to lose scenario. And for a moment there, it looked like maybe Winnipeg would do the unthinkable and lose to the Boatmen’s B team.

For three quarters, Mike O’Shea’s squad looked like it was going through the motions against Toronto. Not one second of Friday’s game at IG Field felt like a Grey Cup rematch with high stakes involved. Both teams played as vanilla as it comes.

Ultimately, Winnipeg got the win they needed before a monumental clash with British Columbia in Week 18, which could ultimately determine who gets to this year’s Grey Cup.

#1: Toronto Argonauts (12-2)

  • Last Week’s Ranking: 1
  • Last game: 31-21 road loss to Winnipeg home victory
  • Next game: Home versus Edmonton, Friday, October 6

On principle alone, there are many who will knock the defending CFL champion Argos down from their top perch after what naysayers will deem to be Toronto throwing up the white flag in their letdown of a super showdown with Winnipeg in Week 17.

Some CFL fans feel like they were cheated out of seeing a battle between the league’s best. And some of the anti-Argonauts sentiment has labeled Toronto as cowardly for not stepping up to the challenge of attempting to beat Winnipeg again on the big stage like they did last November.

Toronto, who is in the midst of a ten-week stretch without a bye, decided to strategically give key starters a rest on a short week while allowing some unproven players the opportunity to prove themselves. The Argos have earned the right to make that call. But one can understand why there has been a backlash against the Boatmen for how they handled their game against the Blue Bombers.

It’s a testament to their talent level and depth that the Double Blue went into Winnipeg with their B squad and held the lead over the Bombers heading into the fourth quarter. In a game that Mike O’Shea’s squad was expected to win in decisive fashion.

Toronto, who was missing nine starters, was more competitive than they should’ve been against Winnipeg. Neophyte quarterback Cameron Dukes held his own, all things considered, in his first-ever CFL start in place of sitting superstar Chad Kelly.

The Argonauts are 12-0 this season in games Chad Kelly has started and finished. One has to wonder what might’ve transpired at IG Field if Toronto had decided to keep the momentum going in what has been a historic start to their 2023 campaign and 150th year of existence.

Toronto still has four games left on their schedule. It’s going to be challenging for them to put their foot back on the gas and then take it off again before the East Final. How this season ends for the Argonauts will determine if the tact they took in Winnipeg was the right one. Based on their 2023 resume, there’s no question that Toronto has had a winning plan. But pulling the plug on the spirit of winning early could hurt them in the long run when it counts the most.

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