The swing game?

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:16 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- When the Edmonton Eskimos go under the big inflated white top at B.C. Place tonight to battle the Lions, don't be fooled by simple football mathematics.

While two very important points are on the line for the struggling 3-5 Eskimos, there is much more at stake.

In fact, this could become the swing game of the season for the defending Grey Cup champions, because a boatload of confidence is on the line - and that is nearly as important as the two points they will be trying to grab from the Leos.

If the Esks win, they will roll into Calgary on Labour Day riding the biggest wave of the season.

"Confidence would be at an all-time high this year (with a win tonight)," said respected veteran and leader A.J. Gass. "And that Labour Day game is going to be the pivotal point in our year."

A win tonight puts Edmonton two points behind Calgary, giving them a very legitimate chance to fight the Stamps for home-field advantage in the playoffs in the second half of the season.

And a huge amount of confidence can be the deciding factor in huge tilts - like Labour Day.

"Confidence can often be the difference in winning by six (points) and losing by six," said receiver Trevor Gaylor. "If you believe you will win, you do things in the fourth quarter to win games.

"When you don't have confidence, you do things to lose."

Just look at last year's Grey Cup run by the Esks for proof. With a major sense of belief living in their locker-room, Edmonton won all three playoff games on the road in the final moments.

It was a remarkable roll brought on partly by confidence - and the same type of winning streak could begin to form for the Esks if they're victorious tonight. On the flip side, though, if the Esks lose to the Lions, their confidence is bound to be shaken again.

Another defeat would make it five losses in their last seven games, sending them into Labour Day in a very unenviable position.

There is no telling exactly where the team's confidence level would be, but head coach Danny Maciocia is well aware of what a major lack of confidence will do.

"If you go into (a game) thinking poor me, why is this happening to me, what have I done ... and I am not happy and comfortable and we don't have the guys, then I tell you right now, it is going to cost you," remarked the coach.

So, the Eskimos know the stakes tonight - and know what they need to do to come out with a win: avoid an early deficit, win the field-position battle and avoid the disastrous breakdowns.

Now the question is: Can they follow through?


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