OTTAWA -- For some Renegades, today's CFL contest (TSN, 7 p.m.) with Winnipeg is "do-or-die."
But, for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, not so much.
Ottawa, 5-6, is tied for second with Montreal, 5-5, in the East, as well as possible western crossover squads, Saskatchewan and Calgary, both 5-6, with 10 points. All four are four points ahead of Winnipeg, 3-9, with games in hand. So, the Renegades need to keep pace in order to at least avoid losing an eastern playoff berth to a crossover.
"This is our playoffs now," Ottawa wide receiver Markus Howell declared yesterday. "A lot of the guys on this team have never experienced a playoff game before and I keep telling them, 'This is playoff atmosphere now. We've got seven games to go. This is do-or-die.'
"This is the big one. Both teams need it. Whomever shows up, whomever's more physical (tonight) is going to win."
Although the Bombers have yet to be mathematically eliminated, Winnipeg quarterback Kevin Glenn shrugged off suggestions that the club is now desperate for a victory.
"I guess you could call it desperate," he said. "I don't call it desperate, I just call it football. We just go out and play, and let the chips fall where they may. Desperation is trying to get out of that hurricane Katrina down in New Orleans. That's desperation. This is football. We do this because we love to do it. That's how you have to approach it -- just go out and have fun."
But the Bombers have not had a lot of fun lately. They landed in Bytown on a three-game losing streak and have yet to win a single game on the road this season.
"We'll just try to use that as fuel," Glenn suggested. "You use it as incentive to go out, play hard and try to do something that you haven't done."
Those road woes are understandable, said Bomber head coach Jim Daley.
"I don't think that's unusual when you're a team that's rebuilding," he said. "Sometimes, you have some comfort at home that you don't have on the road and I hope we have some comfort (tonight)."
"We're still mathematically in the hunt but we have to have success to put ourselves into a situation to have any advantage. So, (tonight's) game is very, very vital to that."
Ottawa, by the way, is on a three-game skid of its own.
"We need to get it turned around," said Renegades quarterback Kerry Joseph. "We need to get back into the win column. During the course of the season, we just hit that low point as a team and we just have to climb our way out.
"We have to keep controlling our own destiny. We can't rely on other people do that for us. We have to come out and just keep ourselves in the race. If we can do that, we'll be OK. We're not panicking or anything but guys know that we need this game. It's real big."
The Bombers also want to give their fans reason for optimism next season.
"We just need to get on some kind of roll going into the end of the year to make the fans feel good about next year's 2006 Grey Cup," said Bomber linebacker Lamar McGriggs.
"I want to show them (fans) something this season," added cornerback Omar Evans. "I want to get on a roll this season and see what happens. We've got a tough task in front of us with Ottawa calling this a must-win situation but, it's a must-win situation for us, too."