You could say that it is far too early to be putting out power rankings right now, but we couldn’t help ourselves. There is excitement in the air after Randy Ambrosie’s announcement about getting back on the field and it’s time to get excited to see a season.
Frankie and Shane both submitted their own rankings prior to a final list being consolidated.
9. Ottawa Redblacks
Shane’s ranking: 7
Frankie’s Ranking: 9
The 2019 season was not the worst record the Redblacks have ever had in their short history, but it was certainly their worst season as they fell well under expectations. After a 2018 season that took them all the way to the Grey Cup game played on an ice rink in Edmonton, the team allowed marque free agents to hit the open market and failed to replace them adequately.
With a new Head Coach in Paul LaPolice, the team has spent the better part of the last two years trying to find their next starts. A quarterback swap with the Argos has landed them Matt Nichols, a guy that is a proven winner in the CFL but hasn’t been able to take things over the top yet.
Players like Cleyon Laing, Anthony Coombs, Timothy Flanders, Abdul Kanneh, and Don Unamba have been brought in to fill some of the holes left by those departed before the 2019 season. They will be better than 2019, but with this many new pieces, you have to wonder when they will be able to get things going.
8. Saskatchewan Roughriders
Shane’s ranking: 9
Frankie’s Ranking: 7
Before Riders fans get to killing us, there is a reason they are down this low on the list, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t or won’t be good in 2021. The Riders’ offence looks about as good as it can be, especially if Cody Fajardo returns to his 2019 form, something we are confident he can at least come close to doing.
The problem for this team is going to be the defence. Losing Charleston Hughes to the Toronto Argonauts is a massive blow to the Riders’ defensive line and allowing him to walk away in free agency is a curious move that I don’t understand.
This team, at least on paper, is worse than the 2019 iteration. It might be a little shocking to see them come in this low, but they have the potential to hit the top of this list by the end of the season. There are just a couple of concerns keeping them towards the bottom as we sit right now in the offseason.
7. B.C. Lions
Shane’s ranking: 5
Frankie’s Ranking: 8
The Lions kept their big splashes for the 2019 offseason and didn’t really do too much in the second offseason of Rick Campbell’s tenure as the team’s Head Coach. Mike Reilly will once again be under centre for the Lions in 2021, and you have to hope they have found a way to protect him after a disastrous 2019 season saw him get hit far too often.
Players like Anthony Cioffi, Kenny Ladler, Marcus Sayles, Chris Casher, J.R. Tavai, and Bosek0 Lokombo have been added to the defence and should help it become a more cohesive unit. Will the Lions end the season above the Riders? That remains to be seen, but with a quarterback of the quality of Reilly, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them in the Grey Cup in Hamilton come December either.
6. Montreal Alouettes
Shane’s ranking: 6
Frankie’s Ranking: 6
One of the more interesting and captivating teams in the CFL right now is the Montreal Alouettes simply for the fact that they struggled for a very long time after Anthony Calvillo retired and returned to a competitive form in 2019. They look to be back on the map but haven’t had a chance to prove it wasn’t a fluke. If they get that chance in 2021, expect them to put on a show.
Vernon Adams Jr. looks like he will be the quarterback that the team has been looking for over a decade and as usual, that defence will be very strong. While I certainly don’t expect the Als to be battling with the Tiger-Cats for Eastern Division supremacy in the regular season, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see them representing the East for the Grey Cup.
5. Calgary Stampeders
Shane’s ranking: 8
Frankie’s Ranking: 4
Knowing the Stampeders, they will hit the top of our power rankings at least a couple of times this season, but for now, they occupy our 5th spot. It’s not easy to discount a team that is led by potentially the best quarterback to ever step foot on a field in Canada with Bo Levi Mitchell, but that hasn’t stopped Shane from ranking them eighth.
They have lost a good chunk of pieces in the past two off-seasons including Eric Rodgers, Reggie Begelton, and Juwan Brescacin. They will be more reliant on pieces like Hergy Mayala, Josh Huff, Markieth Ambles, and Richie Sindani this season. They will still be a really good football team like they have been under Mitchell, but maybe not as good as they are used to.
4. Toronto Argonauts
Shane’s ranking: 2
Frankie’s Ranking: 5
The Toronto Argonauts have a fresh new identity with the boat logo back, and they hope to carry that new identity onto the field with them. Making big splash after big splash in free agency, the Argos could easily become the best team in the league by season’s end, but we aren’t totally sold on some things as of right now.
With a new coaching staff and a quarterback with little experience, you have to wonder just how good this team will be in 2021. There is no question that Nick Arbuckle has the talent to take the Argos to the promise land in the not too distant future, but there might be a bit of a learning curve for him and that staff. They will have something to prove when we hit the field this summer.
3. Edmonton Football Team
Shane’s ranking: 3
Frankie’s Ranking: 3
The yet-to-be-named Edmonton Football Team has a roster capable of winning a Grey Cup in short order. Led by Trevor Harris and making big signings in the offseason including Derrek Dennis, Jonathan Rose, and Greg Ellingson, Edmonton doesn’t appear to be messing around. They had a disappointing 2019, but now look as strong as ever.
Some questions still loom around the team, but they should be ready for a big boost on the offensive line. Potentially their biggest signing of the 2019 offseason was former Redblacks offensive lineman Sir Vincent Rodgers who didn’t play in 2019. Pairing him with Dennis should make them one of the scarier units in football.
2. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Shane’s ranking: 4
Frankie’s Ranking: 2
The Bombers ended their drought the last time we saw CFL football, but they have been rather quiet with signings ever since. Zach Collaros is back in the fold as the undisputed starting quarterback of the team with Chris Streveler and Matt Nichols now out of the fold in Winnipeg, but he will need to stay healthy for the duration of the season if they hope to be competitive. That has been a challenge for him in the past.
In the way of backup quarterback, the Bombers will likely go with Sean McGuire who has a total of three pass attempts in his CFL career. On paper, the roster looks really good and could win once again, but the key to their season will be a return to 2019 form for Collaros and of course, staying healthy.
1. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Shane’s ranking: 1
Frankie’s Ranking: 1
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats fell just short of the ultimate goal in the Canadian Football League the last time teams took the field in November of 2019, but they have a roster built to end their drought.
The big names like Brandon Banks, Simoni Lawrence, and Jeremiah Masoli are back in the fold and they have managed to keep Dane Evans around too. This roster is easily the best on paper ahead of the 2021 season, and now with first overall pick Jake Burt in the fold, they have yet another weapon to play with. It now becomes a question if the Tiger-Cats are ready to take the next step and actually win the big game this time around.