Lovable losers?

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

OTTAWA -- Although the Renegades are still very much involved in the eastern playoff race and are determined to avoid a western side crossing over, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers desperately need a victory for their own peace of mind.

A Winnipeg victory could mean this phase of their once-urgent rebuilding is on the right track. It would even keep their faint playoff hopes from flatlining completely. And a win would also be a step towards keeping the club from winding up as the worst team on the CFL circuit this season.

Lose and the Bombers will be fighting the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for that lovable-loser label. Lose and all the Bombers have to look forward to are achieving the individual bonus clauses in their contracts. Keep losing and those in the twilight of their careers may find themselves on the outside looking in for the remaining five games of the season.

Lose and another rebuilding phase will begin, one with not quite so much urgency.

Keep losing and both the club's GM and head coach will be facing questions about their immediate futures with the Bombers once again after the season is over.

Here's a closer look at tonight's encounter:

KEEP AN EYE ON

Ottawa No. 30 Josh Ranek

The running back can be a one-man wrecking crew for the Renegades on offence. Not only is he third in the CFL with 712 yards and four touchdowns rushing, he has also caught 49 passes for 506 yards and one TD.

REMEMBER WHEN?

Winnipeg safety Terry Ray laid a lick on Renegades slotback Pat Woodcock, who lost his lunch on the Ottawa field last year? Bomber quarterback Kevin Glenn went 10-for-12 for 111 yards and one touchdown in relief of Khari Jones as the Bombers beat Ottawa 29-1 on July 16, 2004. Keith Stokes also returned a punt 81 yards for a TD.

ESSENTIALS

KICKOFF: 7 p.m.; TV/RADIO TSN/CJOB; THE LINE: Ottawa is favoured by 4.5; ALL-TIME SERIES: Winnipeg leads 5-2 since 2002.

LAST MEETING

Winnipeg whipped the Renegades 38-17 at home on Aug.19, 2005.

QUIRKY FACT

Ottawa is 5-1 whenever cornerback Korey Banks intercepts a pass. He currently leads the CFL with seven picks.

THE FINAL SAY

"It's almost like you're backed into a corner and you've got to come out swinging, just throw every punch and hope you can land a few, and hope you can land a knockout blow. We've just got to come out early and establish some momentum at home and keep it on our side."

-- Ottawa QB Kerry Joseph on his team riding a three-game losing streak facing an opponent which is also on a three-game slide.


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