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CFL Week 0 Power Rankings: Establishing the Pecking Order

The CFL regular season is finally here. Power rankings to begin the season. While many changes were made in the offseason by teams losing and gaining key pieces this ranking is largely reflective of the finishing places of teams from last season.

Some might say championships are won in the offseason. While that may be true, it means nothing until the pads get put on for regular-season play. Everything is earned and nothing is given. This week the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have a chance to take back the #1 spot on the power rankings as the season kicks off with a rematch of the Grey Cup. We will also see a meeting between our 3rd and 4th ranked teams and the 5th and 6th ranked teams this weekend so there could potentially be a lot of movement in the power rankings next week.

The Crown Holder and the Court Jester

Crown holder 👑: Montreal Alouettes

Court Jester 🃏: Saskatchewan Roughriders

You will see reference to the Crown and the Court Jester in these rankings. If a team defeats the Crown Holder they steal the Crown from the previous Crown Holder for these rankings. If a team loses to the Court Jester they become the new Court Jester thus freeing the previous team from being the Court Jester. The Montreal Alouettes begin the season as the Crown Holder having won the Grey Cup. The Saskatchewan Roughriders begin the season as the Court Jester having finished last place last year.

Predictions: CFL News Hub Writers’ Week 1 Picks

#1 Montreal Alouettes (0-0)👑

2023 result: 11-7 regular season, 442 PF, 392 PA, Won East Semi-Final, Won East Final, Won Grey Cup

The Montreal Alouettes embraced an underdog mentality last season after many writers had them counted out. CFL.ca had them as the 9th-ranked team in the power rankings despite having made it to the East Division Final just the season before. The thought process going into that season was that Montreal moving from Trevor Harris to Cody Fajardo at quarterback would result in them being the worst team in the CFL. Instead, the Alouettes won the Grey Cup.

Montreal will now have a target on their backs as the defending Grey Cup Champions. Teams will be hungry to dethrone them but right now Montreal has earned the top spot.

Week 1: @ Winnipeg on Thursday

#2 Winnipeg Blue Bombers (0-0)

2023 result: 

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers were dominant last season which saw them finish the regular season with the best record, the most points for, and the least points against. Winnipeg was on the trajectory to be a dynasty but lost a close game to Montreal in the Grey Cup to prevent their third Grey Cup in 4 seasons. With the departure of WR Rasheed Bailey, OL Jemarcus Hardrick, and the retirement of defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat there are some key pieces no longer with the team but much of the core remains.

Winnipeg will be hungry for revenge Thursday in front of their home fans to take back the CFL Crown.

Week 1: vs. Montreal on Thursday

#3 Toronto Argonauts (0-0)

2023 result: 16-2 regular season, 591 PF, 396 PA, Lost in East Final

The Argonauts had the best regular season in franchise history after finishing with a 16-2 record. The Argos playoffs went much differently than the regular season as quarterback Chad Kelly threw 4 interceptions as Toronto went on to lose 17-38. Now with Kelly being suspended for at least 9 games to start this season, the team’s immediate future has some large question marks despite all the success last season.

Week 1: vs. B.C. on Sunday

#4 B.C. Lions (0-0)

2023 result: 12-2 regular season, 495 PF, 439 PA, Won West Semi-Final, Lost West Final

The B.C. Lions had a disappointing end to what was a fantastic season overall. The Lions finished with a 12-6 record before later finding themselves once again facing the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the West Final. B.C. abandoned the run and failed to slow the Winnipeg pass rush which saw the Bombers tie a record for most sacks in a CFL playoff game at 7. B.C. has some key pieces not returning to the team such as receivers Dominique Rhymes, Lucky Whitehead and defensive lineman Mathieu Betts, and Woody Baron. There will be some opportunities for new talent to emerge but there is no denying that some quality players are no longer with the team particularly Mathieu Betts who provided 18 sacks last season and is now a Detroit Lion.

Week 1: @ Toronto on Sunday

#5 Hamilton Tiger-Cats (0-0)

2023 result: 8-10 regular season, 408 PF, 461 PA, Lost East Semi-Final

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats brought in Bo Levi Mitchell to be their quarterback last year and unfortunately his year was ultimately disappointing in a season that was frequently derailed by injuries. If he can stay healthy and get some chemistry going with wide receiver Tim White and company then Hamilton’s offense could surprise people. In week 1 last year BLM was just slightly off on connecting on some deep shots with Tim White. Week 1 will see Bo Levi face his old team for the first time since joining Hamilton.

Week 1: @ Calgary on Friday

#6 Calgary Stampeders (0-0)

2023 result: 6-12 regular season, 412 PF, 471 PA, Lost West Semi-Final

Last season Calgary sneaked into the playoffs with some help from the Saskatchewan Roughriders going on a 7 game losing streak to finish their season. Similar to last season the Stampeders will be again without wide receiver Malik Henry who suffered a season-ending knee injury in training. Receiver Reggie Begelton will be heavily relied upon again this season.

Calgary will be without running back Ka’Deem Carey who was with the team since 2019. Dedrick Mills will be expected to be the starting back who filled in very well over the past couple of seasons whenever Carey was injured.

Week 1: vs. Hamilton on Friday

#7 Ottawa RedBlacks (0-0)

2023 result: 4-14 regular season, 415 PF, 507 PA, Finished 4th in East

The Ottawa RedBlacks had a season in which the quarterback room had a lot of rotation due to injuries. Dustin Crum played well for the team despite there being frequent problems in pass protection. The Cookie Monster was able to use his mobility well to compensate for the opponent’s pass rush. Ottawa brough in Downtown Dru Brown to be their expected starter who was backing up Zach Collaros over the past 2 seasons to be the expected starter. It will be a different environment than what he was used to with Winnipeg’s pass protection so it will be interesting to see how well he does. Ottawa brought in receivers Dominique Rhymes through free agency and drafted Nick Mardner in the first round 2nd overall.

On defense last year the RedBlacks defensive line played pretty well but had struggles among their secondary’s play in pass coverage so RNation fans will hope to see improvement in that area this season. They made a splash in free agency bringing in Adarius Pickett who was Toronto’s SAM linebacker last year.

Week 1: Bye week

#8 Edmonton Elks (0-0)

2023 result: 4-14 regular season, 367 PF, 517 PA, Finished 5th in West

Last season the Elks had 2 glaring issues which were pass protection and run stopping. Week 1 saw Taylor Cornelius pressured on 48.5% of his dropbacks per Pro Football Focus. The team really struggled through the first 8 games in this area. The offensive line performed much better in the second half of their season after coming out of their bye week in week 10. Hopefully, for Edmonton fans they can continue to see improvement in this area as they protect newly acquired quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Bethel-Thompson led the USFL in passing yards last season and led the CFL in passing yards in 2023. Edmonton could have a pretty strong receiver group for him to throw to with Americans Eugene Lewis, Dillon Mitchell, and Kyran Moore along with Canadians Kurleigh Gittens Jr., Gavin Cobb, and Hergy Mayala.

On defense last year Edmonton had a tough time stopping the run. They have drafted linebacker Joel Deblanko first overall as well as 2 more linebackers from the 2nd and 3rd rounds to help address this issue.

Week 1: vs. Saskatchewan on Sunday

#9 Saskatchewan Roughriders (0-0)🃏

2023 result: 6-12 regular season, 387 PF, 551 PA, Finished 4th in West

The Saskatchewan Roughriders were looking to have excellent chances to make the playoffs last year when they were sitting at a 6-5 record in week 13 with a 2-game lead over the Calgary Stampeders. Unfortunately for Rider Nation, the team went on a 7-game losing streak and missed the playoffs by tiebreakers. Quarterback Trevor Harris missed much of last season due to injury and the team brought in running back A.J. Ouellette this offseason. They also brought in Toronto’s previous defensive coordinator Kory Mace to be the head coach so there are reasons to feel optimistic about this team moving forward.

Week 1: @ Edmonton on Saturday

@JonathanClink on Twitter

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Jonathan Clink Reporter
Jonathan Clink joined CFL News Hub in early April of 2023. His primary responsibilities are covering the BC Lions and Montreal Alouettes. He self awarded himself the CFL Rookie Journalist of the Year in 2023 following the 2023 CFL season. He also proclaims himself to be a "really cool guy". He was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and lived a large portion of his childhood in Northwest Ontario. He currently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan and misses being being able to have 4 months of skating every winter. Clink has written over 240 articles for CFL News Hub. He was the publication's boots on the ground at the 2023 Grey Cup in Hamilton. Clink has always had an obsession for sport and has a background in other sports as well having played hockey all his life and soccer, basketball, and lacrosse in high school. As a young child he used to log his hockey statistics after every game which is either an indication that he was destined for the role or perhaps and indication that he is rather strange.
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