Monday, August 30, 2010

The Week 9 Excitement Rankings

Websites and other news organizations often compile statistics to determine how good a team is and call them 'Power Rankings'. These rankings are completely meaningless since the only true indicator of how good a team is is by its win-loss record, which is the same way that the league determines it.

These rankings are not totally useless, however, since they've given the 'Eh' Factor an idea into compiling statistics to determine how exciting the team is in played games. While close defensive battles may be a signature of the game of football, we all know that long bombs and high scores put butts in the seats and close games keep you tuned in on the couch.

Call these what you will. 'Excitement Rankings' suffice for us.

1: Toronto Argonauts (5-3), 2nd place East)

The Ontario teams managed to leapfrog the Stampeders this week thanks the the Stamps blowout win in BC that didn't feature any drama after the 3rd quarter kickoff, thus setting up the most important Battle of Ontario ever this week.
2: Hamilton Tiger-Cats 4-4, 3rd place East

The Tiger-Cats are 2nd in passing yardage, tied for first in average point spread and first in return TDs, and hey, if the CFL isn't about imported quarterbacks and rookie all-purpose backs dazzling us, then, I, uh... guess the Hamilton Tiger-Cats shouldn't be up here.

3: Calgary Stampeders (7-1, 1st place West)

After Henry Burris had thrown his league-leading 12th pick against the Lions, I thought for sure that he had finally pulled away from Darian Durant in Interceptions. How wrong I was. The last 1:56 of the half in the Stamps/Lions game was one of the most bizarre sequences I've ever seen, that featured:

-6 possessions, each at an average of 19 seconds long
-2 interceptions on consecutive Burris passes
-1 fumble
-2 field goals, 1 by either team
-1 punt

I haven't seen anything crammed into that tight of a time period since Pierre McGuire's hypothetical Emmy's speech.

4: Edmonton Eskimos (2-6, 3rd place West)

Du... dur... durrr.... really? This was one of the strangest upsets I've ever seen in the CFL because Edmonton started out so badly. They were down 14-0 after the first quarter, had a total of four completions through the first half and already a quarterback change.

Also, huge quarterback controversy in Edmonton. Both Ricky Ray and Jared Zabransky were totally mediocre, but they did their jobs--Zabransky's entrance in the 2nd quarter seemed to zap the Esks, and Ray, the veteran, was the one who led the game-winning drive in the fourth. Zabransky went 8-for-17 for 109 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT, while Ray was 6-for-11 for 63 yards and 1 INT, but there was something else going on when Zabransky was on the field.

Glen Suitor of the TSN broadcast first mentioned it--when Zabransky hands off the football, he rolls out to either side, which freezes the middle linebacker for a split second, giving the running back time to make his cut. The best Eskimo when Zabransky is on the field is Arkee Whitlock, who rushed 4 times for 14 yards (3.5 yard average) with Ray in the game and 10 times for 60 yards (6 yard average) with Zabransky in.

We all know a good running quarterback in this league is more effective than a not-so-good running quarterback, even if the latter is a better passer. The 'Eh' Factor thus endorses Jared Zabransky in this matter, since it allows Edmonton to not have to throw the ball as much to one of their terrible, terrible receivers.

5: Montreal Alouettes (6-2, 1st place East)

I know I shouldn't be cheering for injuries, but the Lions play in Montrealland this week, but Anthony Calvillo has been an unstoppable monster this year, and Chris Leak has played like your average Alouette backup in his couple of appearances, with a QB rating of 56.7, 0 TDs, 1 INT.

6: Saskatchewan Roughriders (5-3, 2nd place West)

It's odd to see the Riders so damn low on this chart, but let me toss some statistics out at you:

-The Riders have seen just eight lead changes in games they've been a part of.
-The Riders still have yet to return a kick, and 11 passing touchdowns is good for fifth in the league.

This is one of those places where a good running back will hurt you--when it's your own, and he continues to score your touchdowns. I think it should be illegal to run the ball on the one-yard line. There's no drama in just pounding the ball buried in there, while we wait for the referees to make a signal that may be overturned by a challenge anyway.

If the home team can't celebrate the instant a TD is scored, it's not as fun.

7: BC Lions (1-7, 4th place West)

The funny thing about this week is that Casey Printers was the lone non Interception-happy quarterback, and BC was the only team to not throw three picks. Fumbles, dropped passes, missed tackles and busted coverages, sure, but not interceptions. They had two touchdown passes from Printers and one from Lulay, which matched the season total from the first seven weeks they played.

How will they manage against the dangerous Chris Leak?

8: Winnipeg Blue Bombers (2-6, 4th place East)

In the wake of Edmonton's miraculous comeback win, the 6-team playoff system appears to be intact and vindicated, as the Bombers and Eskimos are officially tied for the last playoff spot.


Labour Day weekend is coming up. Weather reports will now be part of the Thursday previews. One more week of football before school, and other football, starts. Football.

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