The regular season is over and therefore this will be the final Power Poll of 2011. What a weird season it has been. The season started with Edmonton and Winnipeg on fire, but ended the season not looking so great.. The second half of the season saw BC run roughshod over everyone after starting the year terribly. Toronto and Saskatchewan got off to bad starts and it doomed them for the remainder of the year. Hamilton, Montreal and Calgary were up one week, down the next. It all leads to what will be one crazy tournament.
1. British Columbia Lions (Last Week: 1)
The Lions started 0-5 and have since gone 11-2. If the Lions are not your odds-on favourite to win the Grey Cup, you need to rethink that.
2. Calgary Stampeders (Last Week: 2)
Since Drew Tate was inserted into the starting lineup, Calgary has been a different team. The Stamps have a mysticism about them right now, with Tate being a wild card. Benching Henry Burris in favour of Tate could be the shrewdest move Head Coach John Hufnagel ever made.
3. Edmonton Eskimos (Last Week: 3)
It took the Eskimos more energy than need be to beat the last-place Roughriders, but the end result was a win. Edmonton now gets to host the Stamps in the West Semi. A year after missing the playoffs, that in and of itself is an accomplishment.
4. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Last Week 5)
No team in the East ended with any momentum, but at least Winnipeg lost to a hot Calgary team. That's little consolation, but they owe a big thank you to the BC Lions. Winnipeg needs to play more like the team that started 7-1 and less like the team that ended 3-7 if they hope to win their first championship in 21 years.
5. Montreal Alouettes (Last Week: 4)
The next momentum-less East team is Montreal, and they could be considered the third-best team if Hamilton had decided to give a darn the last two weeks. The Als were beaten soundly by BC, and look like an old and damaged team. I can't decide if these losses are an aberration or the end of the Montreal dynasty.
6. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (Last Week: 6)
It's hard to take too much away from the loss to Toronto, as the Cats rested a lot of starters. If they beat the Als, then it was a smart move. An 8-10 record will mean nothing if the Cats advance in the playoffs.
7. Toronto Argonauts (Last Week: 7)
I gave serious consideration to jumping the Argos above every other team in the East. They went 3-3 down the stretch and played some very inspired football. They have targeted next year as their year, and it might not be as crazy a notion as we all thought back in mid-September.
8. Saskatchewan Roughriders (Last Week: 8)
Ken Miller stepping down is far from the only change that will happen in Riderville, it's just the first. It was a season to forget in Saskatchewan, and one that will lead to a much different team in 2012 than the one we all saw in 2011.
Highest Climb: Winnipeg (+1)
Steepest Fall: Montreal (-1)