The Swaggerville phenomenon was all the rage in the Canadian Football League prior to Labour Day . The Winnipeg Blue Bombers had the best record in the eight-team circuit and were playing with confidence. It seemed like every week an opposition player would criticize the cocky Swaggerville brand before being silenced on the field. But after consecutive losses to the previously 1-7 Saskatchewan Roughriders, Swaggerville is under fire.
The headline on the Roughriders website following Sunday’s game asked: “Who has the swagger now?” The Winnipeg Free Press headline read, “Swaggerville to Swaggernil.” Even before Sunday’s setback, Hamilton Tiger-Cats tailback Avon Cobourne had declared that, “Staggerville is in effect!” For the record, Saskatchewan fans on twitter seemed to prefer, “Gaggerville.”
The Bombers, meanwhile, are sticking by the theme for now. Here’s defensive lineman Jason Vega on twitter:
We, however, are leaving Swaggerville, at least for now. After five weeks at the top of our rankings the Bombers are dropping down. Here are the Week 11 CFL Rankings:
1. Calgary Stampeders
Last week’s ranking: 4
This week: vs. B.C. Lions, Saturday 7 p.m. ET
Rob Maver (quadriceps) is ready to return to the lineup this week, but it is unclear if he or Rene Paredes, who has handled the field-goal kicking duties since Week 2, will start against the Lions. Paredes has made 21 of 27 attempts (77.8%) since taking over for the injured Maver, who made 37 of 47 attempts (78.7%) last year. The longest kick for Paredes this season has been 50 yards. Maver’s career long is 45 yards.
2. Montreal Alouettes
Last week’s ranking: 5
This week: vs. Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Sunday 1 p.m. ET
Montreal clearly did not like being in third place in the East Division. Perhaps the loss in Hamilton on Labour Day is what the defending Grey Cup champions needed: a wake-up call. After pummeling Hamilton on Sunday, the Alouettes are now just one home victory away from reclaiming their normal spot atop the East Division.
3. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Last week’s ranking: 1
This week: at Montreal Alouettes, Sunday 1 p.m. ET
Saskatchewan’s Craig Butler leveled Bombers quarterback Buck Pierce with a helmet-popping blow in the first quarter of Sunday’s game. It mirrored a hit Ticats linebacker Jamall Johnson made on Pierce in Week 1. On both plays the defence was bringing pressure and Pierce failed to get rid of the ball soon enough. “I’m just pretty beaten up right now. I don’t know what anything is right now,” Pierce told reporters after the game. Pierce had completed the first six passes he attempted on Sunday before the hit. Afterwards? He completed just 15 of 27 passes and threw five interceptions.
4. Edmonton Eskimos
Last week’s ranking: 2
This week: at Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Friday 7:30 p.m. ET
In their six wins the Eskimos have averaged 28 carries for 124 rushing yards. In their four losses the Eskimos have averaged 12 carries for 42 yards. And, it appears Daniel Porter is not the man to get Edmonton’s ground game back on track. The team released Porter on Monday. The club’s top rookie last season had 28 carries for 89 yards and two touchdowns in five games this year.
5. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
Last week’s ranking: 3
This week: vs. Edmonton Eskimos, Friday 7:30 p.m. ET
The Ticats continue to frustrate their fan base and pundits alike with their inconsistency. They dominate Montreal one week and then come up way short against the Alouettes a few days later. Hamilton held a huge lead in the season series (2-0 and +31) against Montreal heading into Sunday’s game. The point differential advantage is now basically gone. If the Alouettes beat the Ticats by more than a single point on Oct. 16 at Molson Stadium then they will win the four game season series, which serves as the first tiebreaker if the teams end the year with the same record.
6. B.C. Lions
Last week’s ranking: 6
This week: at Calgary Stampeders, Saturday 7 p.m. ET
The Lions have won four of five games, but have yet to record a victory over a top-tier opponent. They steamrolled the ailing Argos the last two weeks. Before that they embarrassed an Eskimos team missing eight starters due to injury. B.C.’s first win came against the Greg-Marshall-led Roughriders. That is why the Lions remain in the No. 6 slot. A win in Calgary this week and we can guarantee Wally Buono’s team will be moving up this list.
7. Saskatchewan Roughriders
Last week’s ranking: 7
This week: vs. Toronto Argonauts, Saturday 4 p.m. ET
In the locker room after Sunday’s game head coach Ken Miller led his team in a couple rounds of “Hip hip hooray” as TSN’s cameras rolled. One cheer for the defence, one for the special-teams unit and one for the offence. Then he moved on with his post-game speech. Not so fast. A player yelled out, “What about the coaches?” The other players roared their approval and one more cheer was belted out.
8. Toronto Argonauts
Last week’s ranking: 8
This week: at Saskatchewan Roughriders, Saturday 4 p.m. ET
With eight games remaining it appears like the Argos are destined to miss the playoffs for the third time in four years. Toronto is six points behind Hamilton for third in the East and now five points out of a crossover spot. In the days leading up to Saturday’s game in Vancouver, head coach and general manager Jim Barker warned that new starting quarterback Steven Jyles would be rusty. He said it would be like a pre-season game for him. That may be the truth, but it is not exactly what you expect to hear from the coach of a team in a playoff race.
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