CALGARY -- Six weeks to go in the regular season and the Argonauts don't have to use baseball legend Satchel Paige's famous line "Don't look back, something might be gaining on you."
No, as the 2008 CFL season passes the two-thirds mark, the Argos need only to look to their side to see the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who have rebounded from a disastrous start to find themselves tied for second place in the East with the Boatmen.
The Argos and Bombers can be thankful for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who are two games back at 2-10 and unlikely to make it into the post-season. If that remains true, the Argos and Bombers are in a two-horse race for not only the final playoff spot in the East but also the right to host a semifinal game.
It's a chilly proposition for the Argos, who are trying to piece together a new lineup under a new coach while the Bombers, behind quarterback Kevin Glenn, look like they've rediscovered the form that caused many to pick them to go to the Grey Cup in Montreal this November.
"The fact of the matter is, the way it has been, we don't deserve a spot anyway," said Argos running back Bryan Crawford. "It's a sad state of affairs when you're in second and you have such an awful record (4-8). We have to play a lot better to deserve a spot.
"But the fact we are still in it is a big motivating factor. You take a certain degree of solace in the fact that you are still in the hunt."
The question is: How long will the Argos be in the hunt? They were beaten 34-4 by the Stampeders on Saturday night in a game in which the Stamps were not great. The two teams hook up again in five days at the Rogers Centre, where the Argos will try to avoid losing by 30 points for the third consecutive game under Don Matthews. The Bombers are home-and-home with the Edmonton Eskimos before a crucial game against the Argos in Winnipeg on Oct. 10.
A couple of factors could conspire to keep the Argos out of the playoffs for the first time since 2001. Their offence continues to look out of synch and a sudden turnaround seems unlikely, while the defence is trying to chug along as new players are inserted into the lineup.
But the Argos still believe in themselves.
"If everyone gets on the same page, we can get back to what we are used to seeing on defence in Toronto," linebacker Willie Pile said. "We have to control what we can control, and that is getting ready for Calgary."
Said receiver Arland Bruce: "It's like going through major reconstruction. Until they say we are out of it, we are going to keep pushing."