rewrite this title Around the CFL: The 2023 regular season in review

Summerize this News Article The more things change, the more they stay the same. After a major off-season quarterback shuffle and all kinds of injuries at the most important position on the field this season, the nine CFL teams have finished in the exact same spots in the standings as they did one year ago. So, once again, the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers will be hosting division finals. The division semifinals see the Montreal Alouettes hosting the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the B.C. Lions entertaining the Calgary Stampeders. The survivors square off in the Grey Cup on Nov. 19 in Hamilton. With the final week of the regular-season schedule having no impact on the standings, it’s time to look back at what this season brought us. Most outstanding player: QB Chad Kelly, Toronto Argonauts There were plenty of questions about the Argos’ plan at quarterback after McLeod Bethel-Thompson departed for the USFL after last year’s Grey Cup win. Sure, Kelly had a huge drive in the fourth quarter to help the Argos win that game against the Blue Bombers, but his lack of experience in the CFL made him a bit of a wild-card. Well, the Argos are 15-2 with a chance to tie the record for the best record in CFL history. .acf-block-preview .instagram-twitter-container { width: 340px; margin: 0 auto; } The Argos clinched the East with a whopping six games left in the season — and haven’t missed a beat since then, going 4-1 with the one loss a close game in Winnipeg when Toronto rested Kelly. The Buffalo native may not be the league’s leading passer, but he’s the CFL’s best player this season. Best coach: Ryan Dinwiddie, Toronto Argonauts Dinwiddie has managed this season brilliantly — see above. The former quarterback has helped Kelly become an elite QB. What’s more, the inexperienced backup, Cameron Dukes, has looked good when called upon. .acf-block-preview .instagram-twitter-container { width: 340px; margin: 0 auto; } Defensively, the team also is in good hands under defensive co-ordinator Corey Mace. Smartly, GM Pinball Clemons locked up Dinwiddie and Mace to extensions this season. The Argos are a perfect 9-0 in Toronto, which is a very good sign heading into the East final at home on Nov. 11. Biggest disappointment: Saskatchewan Roughriders For the second year in a row, the Roughriders lost their final seven games to miss out on the playoffs. Two days after their final game, the Roughriders announced they would not renew the contract of coach Craig Dickenson. GM Jeremy O’Day, however, has had his contract extended. Dickenson took more heat in the market, though. The Roughriders made major personnel changes this year and things didn’t get any better. Best mid-season pickup: DL Shawn Lemon, Montreal Alouettes The top defensive player in the league last year with the Stampeders, Lemon was a surprise cut by the Lions in training camp. Perhaps because of his age (35) and maybe having a higher price tag than others, Lemon wasn’t immediately signed. .acf-block-preview .instagram-twitter-container { width: 340px; margin: 0 auto; } The Alouettes finally scooped him up in late July — and the well-travelled Lemon has continued to produce at a high level. Lemon finished the regular season with eight sacks and two interceptions in 12 games. Top Canadian: Mathieu Betts, B.C. Lions The Montreal native set a single-season record for Canadians with 18 sacks. In his first three years in the league, Betts had a total of nine sacks. Betts edges out Winnipeg running back Brady Oliveira here. Oliveira easily is the league’s top rusher with 1,498 yards. Best Off-Field Work: Winnipeg Blue Bombers The Blue Bombers sold out their final four home games and have truly become Winnipeg’s team. Last week, the Winnipeg Jets had their two smallest crowds since returning from Atlanta. .acf-block-preview .instagram-twitter-container { width: 340px; margin: 0 auto; } Of course, it helps that the Blue Bombers win more big games than the Jets — the CFL team is back home for the West final as it bids to return to the Grey Cup game for a fourth year in a row. It has reached the point where the Jets are trying to avoid conflicts with the Blue Bombers. The NHL team moved its home game ahead an hour on Nov. 11 to avoid any overlap with the CFL West final in Winnipeg. What We Liked in Week 20 • The Stampeders taking care of business with a win over the Lions in Vancouver. The Roughriders lost the next day, clinching a post-season berth for Calgary and extended the Stampeders’ playoff streak to 18 years. • The Blue Bombers, despite having nothing to play for, putting on a show for their amazing home fans in a 45-25 win over the Edmonton Elks. What We Didn’t Like in Week 20 • The Roughriders losing a must-win game and taking all of the drama out of Week 21. Power Rankings 1. Toronto Argonauts (15-2, first last week): Can match the 1989 Edmonton team for best finish in an 18-game schedule with a win in Ottawa. Don’t tell the Argos that Edmonton lost to Saskatchewan in the division final that year. 2. Winnipeg Blue Bombers (13-4, second last week): Another great season for coach Mike O’Shea, quarterback Zach Collaros and Co. 3. B.C. Lions (12-6, third last week): Finish with the same record as last year. 4. Montreal Alouettes (10-7, fourth last week): Solid first season for head coach Jason Maas. 5. Hamilton Tiger-Cats (8-9, fifth last week): Avoided mid-season collapse and now are a scary playoff foe. 6. Calgary Stampeders (6-11, sixth last week): Have won two in a row and can now rest any injured players in the final week. 7. Edmonton Elks (4-14, seventh last week): Won four of final 10 after 0-8 start. 8. Saskatchewan Roughriders (6-12, eighth last week): If QB Trevor Harris is healthy next year, the new coach will have a chance to do much better. 9. Ottawa Redblacks (4-13, ninth last week): Major quarterback questions heading into next year. Week 21 Picks Winnipeg Blue Bombers (-2.5) at Calgary Stampeders, Friday, 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT: In meaningless games, home team often has a little bit more motivation. PICK: Calgary Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Montreal Alouettes (No line), Saturday., 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT: Teams will not want to give away any secrets seeing as they meet again in the playoffs next week. PICK: Hamilton Toronto Argonauts at Ottawa Redblacks, Saturday, 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT: Argos surely wouldn’t mind entering the CFL record book. PICK: Toronto 2023 Picks Record: 43-35 Odds from FanDuel as of Thursday. More from Sportsnet Blue Bombers playoff game causes Jets to move up Nov. 11 puck drop CFL Awards: Oliveira gets nod as Bombers nominee for Most Outstanding Player .acf-block-preview .br-related-links-wrapper { display: grid; grid-template-columns: repeat(2, 1fr); gap: 20px; } .acf-block-preview .br-related-links-wrapper a { pointer-events: none; cursor: default; text-decoration: none; color: black; } that meets Google’s requirements for helpful content updates. 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