Week 18 of the CFL 2023 season is in the books. Only three weekends remain in the regular season before the Grey Cup playoffs commence. Five playoff spots are secure, with one postseason spot remaining up for grabs.
Thanksgiving weekend in the CFL saw the Bombers rally late to claim control of the West in a heartbreaking loss for the Lions. Meanwhile, the current Argos paid homage to their past with another convincing win at home. The weekend slate saw the Ti-Cats and Alouettes continue to pick up momentum before the postseason.
After 18 weeks of play in the CFL 2023 campaign, here are the standings.
CFL 2023 REGULAR SEASON STANDINGS
|Winnipeg Blue Bombers – x||16||12||4||24||513||339||7-1-0||5-3-0||8-2-0|
|BC Lions – x||16||11||5||22||446||368||6-2-0||5-3-0||8-3-0|
|Edmonton Elks- e||16||4||12||8||321||437||2-6-0||2-6-0||2-8-0|
|Toronto Argonauts – y||15||13||2||26||495||321||8-0-0||5-2-0||8-0-0|
|Montreal Alouettes – x||16||9||7||18||385||351||4-4-0||5-3-0||6-3-0|
|Hamilton Tiger-Cats – x||16||8||8||16||358||406||3-5-0||5-3-0||3-6-0|
|Ottawa REDBLACKS- e||16||4||12||8||366||440||3-5-0||1-7-0||0-8-0|
y – Clinched Division
x – Clinched Playoff Berth
e – Eliminated From Playoff Contention
Here’s how I stack up the CFL teams from the bottom to the top, heading into Week 19.
CFL 2023: Week 19 Power Rankings
#9: Ottawa REDBLACKS (4-12 )
- Last Week’s Ranking: 9
- Last Game: 29-3 Road Loss To Montreal
- Next game: At Toronto, Saturday, October 14th
Before the 2023 CFL season started, Ottawa was one of the sexy sleeper picks to come out of their doldrums and make the postseason.
After a 3-3 start, with some thrilling overtime victories like the team’s improbable comeback against Winnipeg, it appeared like maybe the REDBLACKS were poised to turn the corner. However, it wasn’t meant to be. Ottawa would then go on to lose nine of their next ten games.
The Redblacks are 4-4 against the West this season but have gone winless against the Eastern division (0-8). Perhaps they will sneak a victory over a resting Toronto team in their two final games to avoid dropping every divisional contest this year. Even still, it would be a tiny consolation on what has been another colossally disappointing year for Ottawa.
#8: Calgary Stampeders (4-11)
- Last Week’s Ranking: 8
- Last Game: 22-15 road loss to Hamilton
- Next game: Home versus Saskatchewan, Friday, October 13
Calgary is coming off their most successful weekend of the regular season. The catch is that they didn’t even play.
The Stamps have a lot to be grateful for on Thanksgiving. And that’s because they sat back and watched Ottawa and Edmonton get eliminated from postseason contention. As a result, the Stampeders are now in a two-horse race for the final CFL playoff spot with Saskatchewan, who dropped yet another game this past weekend.
The Stamps will get the reeling Riders on their home field this Friday. On paper, Calgary’s schedule looks daunting after they square off with Saskatchewan. British Columbia and then Winnipeg to close out the regular season. However, by the time weeks 20 and 21 roll around, the Lions and Bombers may be in preseason mode, prepping for the playoffs by resting key starters.
As absurd as it appears, the Stampeders still have a shot to keep their nearly two-decade consecutive playoff streak alive.
#7: Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-10)
- Last Week’s Ranking: 7
- Last game: 38-13 Home Loss To Hamilton
- Next game: At Calgary, Friday, October 13
For weeks, this column has focused on the real possibility that a seven-win team could make the postseason. Saskatchewan’s season has completely fallen apart since they beat the Lions and Bombers in successive weeks.
The Riders have done very little riding and a whole lot of dying, particularly on defence during a brutal five-game losing streak. Their latest loss was a supremely lackluster effort at home in a 38-13 loss to Hamilton.
What’s crazy is that Saskatchewan’s two biggest wins of the season against Winnipeg and BC may be the equity that gets them into the playoffs by default. However, the Riders can’t just back their way completely into the postseason. Or can they? They have a pivotal game against Calgary, where they can clinch their spot this week before wrapping things up with Toronto.
#6: Edmonton Elks (4-12)
- Last Week’s Ranking: 6
- Last game: 35-12 Road Loss To Toronto
- Next game: Home versus Montreal, Saturday, October 14
Having a 4-12 team ranked sixth in the Power Rankings seems ludicrous. Especially after the Elks had their doors blown off by the league champs. But that’s how bad the bottom of the CFL has been. Ottawa, Calgary, and Saskatchewan have been worse than the Elks down the stretch. Three teams that Edmonton has beaten in the Tre Ford era.
The Elks have a winning record since Chris Jones and his staff stubbornly decided to turn things over at the eleventh hour to Ford. One has to wonder if Edmonton would be in the postseason this year had they gone to Tre Ford sooner. The truth is that they probably would be.
Of the bottom-feeding teams in the Canadian Football League. Edmonton has the most hope going into the offseason. They have a dynamic talent in Tre Ford to build their franchise around moving forward. So as bad as their record continues to be, 2023 can be deemed a success because of the seed that was planted for the future.
#5: Hamilton Tiger-Cats (8-8)
- Last Week’s Ranking: 5
- Last game: 38-13 Road Victory Over Saskatchewan
- Next game: Home versus BC, Friday, October 13
After an impressive shellacking of Saskatchewan in Week 18, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are now 8-4 this season against teams not named Toronto.
The Ti-Cats are one of the hottest teams in the league right now. Their elite talent level has shown out, despite them having a less-than-ideal three-headed situation on the pivot all season. Bo Levi Mitchell returned from injury in spot duty in Week 18. But it’s anyone’s guess who will get the call at QB when the playoffs start.
Unsettled quarterback situation aside. It’s premium star players like WR Tim White, LB Jameer Thurman, and RB James Butler, who have helped Hamilton rise above the pack this season.
The post-season-bound Ti-Cats are still scratching and clawing for a home postseason date. The ultimate dream is heading to the Hammer for the Grey Cup, but they have their eyes on potentially hosting the East Semifinal. To make that a potential reality, they need to beat BC this Friday before facing Montreal in the regular season finale, which could determine who hosts in the Eastern playoffs. Depending on what happens Saturday in Edmonton.
#4: Montreal Alouettes (9-7)
- Last Week’s Ranking: 4
- Last game: 29-3 Home Victory Over Ottawa
- Next game: At Edmonton, Saturday, October 14
When it comes to flexing their muscles against Ottawa and the rest of the CFL’s teams beneath Toronto, Winnipeg, and B.C, Montreal has not taken any Ferris Bueller days off. The Als are now 9-0 against the rest of the CFL.
On Thanksgiving Day, the Alouettes trounced the Redblacks 29-3 at home. Montreal whooped Ottawa from pillar to post. The two teams are not even on the same level. Jason Maas’s Als squad is peaking at the right time, playing sound football on all three phases.
In the East, getting a home playoff game is pivotal for Montreal because they have Hamilton standing in their way before a potential East Final date against the reigning CFL champs.
#3: B.C. Lions (11-5)
- Last Week’s Ranking: 3
- Last game: 34-26 overtime home loss to Winnipeg
- Next game: At Hamilton, Friday, October 13
In the biggest game of the CFL 2023 regular season, the BC Lions came up short when it mattered most. Sporting a ten-point lead at home, the Lions didn’t make or catch any breaks against an opponent in Winnipeg that has thrived in those pressure situations. BC Place was full of heartbreak as the Leos squandered an opportunity to take control of the West and earn an easier ride to a potential Grey Cup.
The Lions certainly didn’t get any help from the referees, but their coaching staff and players didn’t help themselves either in their 34-26 OT loss to Winnipeg.
Barring some late-season craziness, British Columbia will be hosting the Western Semi-Final on Saturday, November 4th, against insert West playoff team by default here.
To get over the hump and heartbreak of Week 18. The Lions are going to have to regroup and slay the mighty dragon Winnipeg on the Bombers home field to get to the Grey Cup.
#2: Winnipeg Blue Bombers (12-4)
- Last Week’s Ranking: 2
- Last game: 34-26 Overtime Road Home Victory Over BC
- Next game: Week 20: Home versus Edmonton, Saturday, October 21
Mike O’Shea’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers showed in Week 18 why they’ve been the best team in the CFL for the last several seasons.
In a game where it felt like a Grey Cup bid was at stake. Winnipeg put on a championship performance in the clutch.
Down two scores late on the road in their biggest spot of the season, the Blue Bombers came through with big plays on offence and defence.
Winnipeg scored twice with under three minutes left to tie the game at 26 with 12 seconds left in the fourth. In between, a crucial stop by the Bombers D on third and short set the stage for the tying score.
Then in a play that epitomized the difference between BC and Winnipeg. Leos Receiver Dominique Rhymes could’ve ended the game in regulation but was caught by defensive back Jamal Parker five yards short of the end zone on a 65-yard completion as time ran out.
Winnipeg scored first in overtime with a nine-yard run by Brady Oliveira and a two-point conversion on a connection between Zach Collaros and Kenny Lawler before the defence stopped the Lions from tying the game.
The Bombers, who are now inches away from securing the Western crown, get a perfectly timed breather of a bye week before finishing up their regular season with Edmonton and Calgary. They will likely see BC again in the West Final in what could be another classic. But Week 18’s triumph was another classic example of why Winnipeg is who they are.
#1: Toronto Argonauts (13-2)
- Last Week’s Ranking: 1
- Last game: 35-12 home victory over Edmonton
- Next game: Home versus Ottawa, Saturday, October 14
The Toronto Argonauts are now 13-0 this season when Chad Kelly starts and finishes a game healthy. After taking a self-imposed week off, missing nine starters, including Kelly, in Winnipeg. The Boatmen turned the lights back on for a very special occasion back home, celebrating their 150th birthday.
What’s most impressive about the Argos’ 35-12 victory over Edmonton was how matter-of-fact it was. The Elks kept things close for a while, especially after Tre Ford delivered some magic right before halftime to cut the Argonauts lead to seven. But Toronto, who wasn’t perfect by any means, particularly offensively, is just too talented overall for an upstart team like Edmonton to compete head-to-head with them over four quarters.
That’s been the story for every team that has faced the Argos at full strength this season. Just look at what Montreal and Hamilton have done of late in games against other teams where they haven’t encountered the Boatmen.
The Double Blue are so deep and well-rounded on all three phases that they don’t need to play their A-game at every level to win in a decisive fashion.
With nothing of consequence to play for in their final three regular season games. The Argonauts brass will have to get creative in how they handle each affair. Keeping key players off the injury report is goal #1.
Toronto’s 2023 season has been a terrific one. They have defended their throne and honoured their history in gallant fashion. But ultimately, how this season ends for the Argos will determine if their campaign has been a success. The pressure will be on Toronto to get to a Grey Cup and repeat as champs. Anything less would be a failure at this point. But for the moment, you couldn’t have scripted year 150 for the Argonauts football club any better.
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