Sky still the limit

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:10 AM ET

This Winnipeg Blue Bombers season just keeps getting more and more difficult to analyze and with each attempt we seem to be delving deeper into the befuddling mystery.

Hey, let's face it. Everyone from GM Brendan Taman to Sigmund Freud himself would have a tough time putting a finger on what makes this crew tick.

Their own coach, Doug Berry, has described the Bombers as being Jekyll and Hyde and it's a most apropos analogy, given their hot start to the season, their month-long slump during which they looked more like bottom feeders than contenders and their recent resurgence, which has them in the thick of a battle for first place.

Please do not adjust your set. You read that right.

First place.

You know, the position in the standings that comes with a bye to the Eastern Final and a home playoff game.

Believe it or not, despite all the shortcomings and injuries and all that has been said about this team's issues, first place is right there for the taking.

In fact, if they can beat the reeling Montreal Alouettes at Canad Inns Stadium tonight, the Bombers might just be the favourites for top spot.

Now forgive us if we sound incredulous, but this is the very same squad that looked like a high school team while getting pummeled -- and we do mean pummeled -- in Calgary on Sept. 15.

It's the same team that lost four straight games while going 0-for-August and has on some occasions this year been likened to the Bomber unit that went a woeful 5-13 in 2005.

That very same team is now 7-7, is in a three-way tie for first place, holds the tiebreaker over one of the teams (Toronto 7-6), and plays another of those teams (Montreal, 7-6 and on a six-game losing streak) tonight.

It's an enviable position that should have local fans once again dreaming of seeing the hometown team in the Grey Cup at Canad Inns Stadium on Nov. 19.

The Bombers really stepped up last Sunday in Montreal, winning there for only the second time in the recent era of the Montreal franchise. The 17-14 victory featured gutsy performances from oft-maligned quarterback Kevin Glenn, safety Kyries Hebert and running back Charles Roberts, who carried the team on his diminutive shoulders in the final minute to preserve the win.

It is that kind of leadership which the team has lacked at times during the season and it's that type of leadership that will be required when the playoffs roll around.

Just talking about the playoffs as a virtual given is another indication of just how topsy-turvy this season has been.

After harsh losses to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Labour Day Classic and the Stampeders a couple weeks ago, the Bombers seemed unlikely to hold off either the Hamilton Tiger-Cats or Edmonton Eskimos for the final playoff spot in the East.

Today the sky is once again the limit. With the next two games against Montreal and Hamilton (after a 15-day layoff), the Bombers have a great opportunity to put a stranglehold on first place.

Still, it's hard to get too excited when you throw in the recent horrible play of the Alouettes as a contributing factor to the Bombers, success.

Montreal looked pitiful last Sunday and could hardly be called an elite team at this point in time. The Bombers know gifts like that won't come in the playoffs, or in the last two games of the season, against Calgary and B.C.

So getting back to that analysis of the season, let's put it this way: You could say the Bombers are contenders to play in the Grey Cup, but not really contenders to win it. Unless they prove they can compete with teams like Calgary and B.C., they are going to remain longshots.

Still, a longshot is better than no shot at all.


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