After five weeks, five teams have 3-2 records. Five teams! Each team got there in very different ways, but as the calendar turns to the second month of the CFL season, an amazing five squads tied for the top record in the league. Parity, thy name is CFL.
(1) Road teams dominate
After four weeks of home-field advantage leading to 14 wins in 16 games, Week 5 saw homes teams drop three of four games. The only team to win on their turf was the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Argos beat the Als in Montreal, the Ti-Cats stunned the Riders in Regina and the Lions obliterated the Stamps in Calgary. Whether this was a one-week anomaly or if we're seeing the better teams start to separate themselves is something that we'll have to keep an eye on.
(2) Eskimos finally using Fred Stamps
Despite losing to the previously winless Bombers, it was to see the Eskimos utilize receiver Fred Stamps. Stamps picked up 91 yards, which is more than double the amount he's had in any game up to that point and those 91 yards are nearly half his season total of 201. Stamps also found his way into the end zone for the first time this season against Winnipeg. If Edmonton wants to be successful offensively, they will need to continue to feature Stamps.
(3) Alex Brink bounces back
Brink was widely and deservedly criticized for his putrid nine-for-34 performance against the Argos back in Week 4, but he bounced back big time in leading Winnipeg to their first win of the season. Brink finished the game going 26 for 38 for 294 yards and one touchdown. He did throw two interceptions, but he was steady all night and was a main reason why Winnipeg is no longer the lone winless team in the CFL.
(4) Brandon London is Montreal's best receiver
Jamel Richardson and S.J. Green get all the attention when it comes to Alouette receivers, but the team's best receiver this season has been the unheralded Brandon London. He sits seventh in the league in receiving yards and has been the biggest threat in the receiving corps for the Alouettes. While Richardson and Green get most of the ink, London has been putting up the numbers.
(5) Chad Owens emerging as a receiving threat
I have been one of the loudest critics of Chad Owens. I think he is the most overrated player in the CFL, bar none. But in his third season with the Argos, and playing with a capable quarterback for the first time in his career, Owens is on the verge of making me change my mind. The league's fourth-leading receiver tied his single-season high for touchdowns in just the fifth game of the season and he is on pace to smash his single-season high for receiving yards. If Owens makes it back-to-back-to-back 3,000 seasons in 2012, he will have earned it.
(6) It is early, but Montreal could miss the playoffs
Saying anything definitive after the fifth week of the season is usually foolish, but based on what I've seen from the Montreal Alouettes, I think there is a chance that the team will miss the playoffs for the first time since their rebirth in 1996. I can't be the only one who watches Montreal play and sees the makings of a bad team. Maybe it is not so much how bad they are, but how much better Toronto and Hamilton look, but regardless of the reason, this year could be the first playoff-less season for the Alouettes.
(7) Kory Sheets is on fire
The mass exodus of veteran running backs this off-season (Fred Reid, Joffrey Reynolds, Wes Cates) meant that some young players were going to have to step up. One such player who has done that is Saskatchewan running back Kory Sheets. Sheets has six touchdowns in five games and has scored at least once in all five of those contests. I wouldn't say that Sheets has been spectacular – his highest yardage total in a game is 89 – but he has been dependable and reliable. His production is one of the big reasons that the Riders are back to being a contender.
(8) What is going on with Jon Cornish?
Sticking with running backs, what happened to Jon Cornish? He was phenomenal in Calgary's Week 1 slaughtering of the Alouettes, but since then he hasn't rushed for over 39 yards in any game, with the low point coming on his six carry, -1 yard performance against BC. Whether it is Cornish himself or the play calling, Cornish has just plain stunk.
(9) Geroy Simon's early season struggles
Speaking of players who haven't performed up to expectations, Geroy Simon has been nearly invisible since breaking Milt Stegall's all-time record for receiving yards. He has yet to score a touchdown in 2012 and hasn't come all that close to a 100-yard game since putting up 105 yards in his record-breaking performance back in Week 1. Simon needs to be a focal point for the offense and I expect Simon's struggles will long gone by the time the leaves change.
(10) My guesses for Players of the Week
I guess picking last week's top players was actually pretty easy because I was able to get all four of them right. I will say that I think this week's decisions will be tougher because of the dearth of players who stood out on defense and special teams. But I'll try my best to pick who will win the awards.
There are more than a few players deserving of being named the week's top offensive player, but the race is down to two people: Travis Lulay and Henry Burris. Lulay threw for over 300 yards and three scores, while completing 30-of-37 passes. Burris threw for 356 yards on 29 of 40 and tossed four touchdowns for the second week in a row. This is truly a toss up, but I'm going to give it to Lulay. Burris was phenomenal, but he won it last week and I just don't see him winning it two weeks in a row.
Probably the most difficult choice is who was the best defensive player in Week 5. Hamilton's Brandon Boudreaux picked up two sacks and forced a fumble; Toronto's Patrick Watkins had six tackles and an interception, as did BC's Adam Bighill. But my pickis Edmonton's J.C. Sherritt. Despite being on the losing end, Sherritt added 10 more tackles to his league-leading total. In a week where I can't recall any standout performances, I'll give the award to perhaps the best defensive player in the league.
Andrew Harris as top Canadian is a no-brainer. Harris scored two touchdowns and had over 90 combined yards to help BC beat the Stampeders. He was far and away the best Canadian on any field this past weekend.
Special teams, like defense, didn't really have one great performance. So with no one standing out, I think the award will go to a kicker for the second straight week, this time it is Toronto's Swayze Waters. Waters accounted for 11 of Toronto's 23 points and went three for four on field goals. In a week that saw very little action in the return game, a kicker will likely win this award. I think that kicker will be Waters.