Kick-off for week 1

Graphics: Igor Lazarevic

TORONTO – After a full training camp with all its pre-season games, we are getting ready to start a new CFL season in early June. After two very difficult years of a pandemic, it feels great to be back on schedule with a sense of normality back in a game that has been paused for too long.

As we near Thursday night’s season opener between the Calgary Stampeders and the Montreal Alouettes, we find one constant in the turmoil of the past two years and that is the defending Gray Cup champions.

It’s far from spoiler alert to let you know that our first power ranking of the 2022 season begins with the team that held that spot for essentially all of last year, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. As they take their first steps toward a three-peat steeped in history, they do so knowing that the goal on their backs has only grown bigger. There won’t be any empty seats on the bingo map for the Bombers this season, but they know it.

As the league’s other eight teams target the two-time defending champions, let’s take a look at how they’re all doing while all sitting at 0-0.

» View: 2022 CFL schedule
» Cutdown Tracker: Teams announce their final cuts

1. Winnipeg Blue Bombers

Record 2021: 11-3
Ranking low season: 1

Anyone else scrolling down the page expecting to see the bombers at this point? It’s a fair reflection of how good this team was, first climbing to the top of the CFL mountain in 2019 and then showing such dominance while defending their Gray Cup victory last year. This year there are changes in Winnipeg — Andrew Harris‘ Moving to Argos is the primary – but assuming the bombers can get production out Brady Oliveira and Johnny Augustinethe rest of the core that we have come to know/love/fear based on your loyalty should carry on and dominate normal business.

2. Hamilton Tiger Cats

Record 2021: 8-6
Low season ranking: 2

The Ticats go into the regular season with their quarterback pick Dane Evans the clear No. 1 for the first time in his career. The obvious challenge on offense will be week-to-week consistency. Injuries to Evans and Jeremiah Masoli last year that gave a wrench, but when Evans was healthy in 2019 we saw what he’s capable of. Ja’Gared Davis’ loss on the D-line was mitigated by signing from offseason Micah Johnson and like Winnipeg – these teams always seem bound to one another in the end – the core of the team returns and tries to take the final step towards a Gray Cup victory.

3. Toronto Argonauts

Record 2021: 9-5
Ranking low season: 3

The Argos took a team that was on the verge of making it to the Gray Cup game in 2021 and have turned to experienced vets to get them over the hill. Andrew Harris knows a thing or three about winning Gray Cups and Brandon Banks has plenty of motivation this year to show he can still play at a high level and help his team win. The addition of Ja’Gared Davis will bolster a defensive line that needed a little more punch last year. The current continuity within the organization should only help the Argos as they attempt to move to the top of a competitive East Division.

4. Saskatchewan Roughriders

Record 2021: 9-5
Low season ranking: 4th

With the riders hosting the Gray Cup this year and the team already on the doorstep for the last two seasons to reach the big game Cody Fajardo A perfect storm of expectations is brewing at QB in Saskatchewan. At the top of that list, Fajardo is set to launch an explosive offensive that begins against Hamilton this week. Some players are up to the challenge in high-pressure situations. We’ll soon see how this Riders team reacts to being scrutinized over the next few months.

5. Calgary Stampeders

Record 2021: 8-6
Low season ranking: 6th

After a somewhat bad year in 2021, it’s hard to say what to expect from the stamps this season. Bo Levi Mitchell In his only preseason game, he put up less-than-stellar numbers, making 3-10 passes for 37 yards with two interceptions, but the Stamps won by hand against a Lions roster that’s a shadow of what the team has these days week will actually line up when they host Edmonton. Mitchell sat in Edmonton on Friday, but the Stamps dominated the Elks and won 37-7. Mitchell is a vet and a highly decorated CFL at that, so we think he‘ll be sharp and ready when the curtain rises on him on Thursday.


Record 2021: 3-11
Low season ranking: 7th

In our Off-season performance rankings, we said this would be a must-have team in June and that’s totally true now. The talent is undoubtedly there in Ottawa, and we saw it in the team’s preseason. Now we see head coach Paul LaPolice trying to pull it all together. A good start will be more important in the East this year than it has been for many years. The REDBLACKS have talent on all sides of the ball and it will be fun to see how they fare in a very competitive East Division over the coming weeks.

7. Montreal Alouettes

Record 2021: 7-7
Low season ranking: 5

Preseason lessons are always peppered with grains of salt and asterisks, but we have one solid takeaway from the Alouettes so far: This team could be surrounded by quarterback noise all season. The noise was turned up at the TSN studios on Friday night when head coach Khari Jones easily refrained Vernon Adams Jr. would be his starting quarterback for Thursday night’s game in Calgary. However loud the noise gets outside the locker room, it hits Jones, Adams and Trevor Harris to keep it still and consistent inside and on the field. This will be an interesting thing that will play out starting this week.

8. BC Lions

Record 2021: 5-9
Low season ranking: 8th

The Lions have spent the last few months under the scrutiny of many who follow the league, having immediately gone along Nathan Rourke as their starter when Michael Reilly retired. In free agency, they added Michael O’Connor as his backup and raised eyebrows across the country. Even putting aside their Canadian status (very cool story, btw), the team relies on two very inexperienced QBs to lead them into the season. You should never buy what teams are selling preseason, good or bad, but both Pivots looked sharp in Friday’s preseason win over Saskatchewan. Rourke has to prove it’s real starting this week. If so, the Lions have something very interesting to cook.

9. Edmonton Moose

Record 2021: 3-11
Low season ranking: 9th

The question that came up when the moose camp opened is somehow still there four weeks later. Who is your starting quarterback? Chris Jones probably knows, but if you ask the question at this point in the season, a team can have a long way to go. Nick Arbuckle played well in his preseason game but an injury prevented him from showing what he could do in the second game. Will this continue through week 1? Until we have a good sense of who will be the focus for this team, there is a long way to go.

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