Toronto Argonauts can establish their place in the CFL’s East Division

Shawn Oakman #90 of the Toronto Argonauts encourages the fans to make noise. (Photo by John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images)
Shawn Oakman #90 of the Toronto Argonauts encourages the fans to make noise. (Photo by John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images) /

Don’t look now – but the Toronto Argonauts might be the best team in the CFL’s East Division.

The Toronto Argonauts defeated the Montreal Alouettes to head into their BYE week climbing back above .500 and remaining undefeated at home.

It was a night that saw the return of Chris Jones to the Argonaut organization, and the re-emergence of Mcleod Bethel-Thompson as the teams’ starter after Nick Arbuckle’s hamstring injury. It was also another much-needed win against a divisional opponent, and kept pace with rival Hamilton for the East division lead.

That’s a race that is gaining importance, as Ryan Dinwiddie’s team continues to be perfect at BMO Field.

This team is far from perfect. All their wins have been decided by one possession, and they have yet to win consecutive outings. Still, Argos fans should take solace in the fact that despite the teams’ inconsistencies, they have not found themselves lagging behind the pack. Winnipeg seems to be a class above the rest of the league, but there is a log jam in that second tier, and Toronto has proven it can compete with anyone in a single game.

That compete level is about to be tested, as the CFL schedule has dealt the Argos an all divisional back-to-back, five days apart. The Argos will host the Ottawa Redblacks on the first Wednesday of October, before travelling down the highway to Hamilton for a Thanksgiving Day classic.

It will be those two games where this team will finally be tested; and where, in a shortened campaign, the season could be made or broken. With the condensed 14-game schedule, teams can’t afford to dig themselves too much of a hole- there’s only so much runway to work with. Even in the CFL, where it’s never over until the clock hits zero– it’s hard to see a path to an Eastern title reign if the boatmen struggle in those five days.

The good news is that there is a bye week between now and then – giving everyone a chance to rest up, and Nick Arbuckle to return. This injury flew under the radar, and as late as Wednesday, some still believed Arbuckle would play.

Dinwiddie told reporters Wednesday it was “another part of the leg” in comparison to an earlier tweak, and that the injury mostly hindered Arbuckle’s mobility. It’s clear that Arbuckle is coach Dinwiddie’s “guy”, and Argo fans can expect him to be placed right back into the lineup when he gets healthy.

That shouldn’t diminish what Bethel-Thompson was able to do this week. McLeod continued his run of ball protection, having now thrown a league-high 57 completions without an interception. It sounds cliché, but in the tight games that the Argonauts have been winning, those turnovers (or the lack thereof) have been all the difference.

Next. Argos able to hang on for pivotal win over Als. dark

We can’t know for certain, at 4-3, what kind of true championship aspirations this team has. But they’re definitely a playoff team, and could potentially be the best in the East in a few short weeks.

To do that, Dinwiddie’s staff need to take the positives out of tonight’s victory, and ensure that the Argonauts play like the team in the first 55 minutes of this game, and not the last five going forward. If they do that, this should be a dog fight til the end.