It is that magic time of the season.
The leaves have turned colours, the Fall Classic is almost here and most CFL clubs are on the cusp of either earning playoff berths or blowing them.
The Blue Bombers, for one, could not only put themselves on the precipice of a playoff spot with a victory over Montreal tonight (7 p.m.) but could kill whatever hopes Hamilton has left. And leave Edmonton dangling in the cold October winds.
Winnipeg, 7-7, plays host to the 7-6 Alouettes at Canad Inns Stadium and the victor will also grab sole possession of first place in the CFL East, at least temporarily.
The Bombers have not qualified for the playoffs since 2003.
"We're getting close, that's for sure, and everybody understands that we're in a position that this organization hasn't been in for a couple of years," Winnipeg head coach Doug Berry said yesterday. "And we'd like to be able to get there, climb that ladder, close the door as soon as we possibly can.
"There'll be a tremendous emphasis to try to get to our ultimate goal, which is to get into the playoffs."
Although beating the Als would even the season series at 2-2, Winnipeg would need to beat them by 36 points to get the edge in any possible tie-breaker to determine the final standings.
Winnipeg clipped the Alouettes 17-14 in Montreal last week.
"You build momentum every week and this one is definitely bigger than last week," said Bomber tailback Charles Roberts. "We have a chance to go above .500 and put ourselves in first place alone.
"It's big because it's going to get the city of Winnipeg excited. The fans definitely deserve to have a playoff team here, especially with the Grey Cup being hosted here this year. It's big for us and we not only have the opportunity to make the playoffs, we have a chance to take first place and get a first-round bye."
But they have not clinched it yet.
"Every game is going to be huge, have huge implication," Berry said. "The more that we win, the bigger the games get technically because, once we start winning, we have an opportunity for first place and certain things are attached to being a first-place team, meaning a bye week and to me, that's a huge advantage.
"By the same token, if we lose a game, the next week's game is just as big because, ultimately, we can't compete if we don't get there."
Winnipeg has won just two of its last four outings while the Als -- last year's Grey Cup finalists -- are skidding down an incredulous six-game losing streak.
"What you try to do is stay positive and maintain the same things that you did when you were winning, and winning for so many years," said Montreal head coach Don Matthews. "It takes one game to get this thing turned around, and we expect it to be this week."
And it is a veteran squad.
"We all still believe that we can get the job done, and we still can control our own destiny," said Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo. "We've got a big game because it's against an eastern opponent and we're fighting for first place."
Montreal beat the Bombers 27-17 and 44-16 earlier this season.
"They're a good team, practically a great team," said Bomber quarterback Kevin Glenn. "They've been to the Grey Cup numerous years and they're always on top of the CFL. So, this is a test for us to go out and possibly beat another eastern team and get ahead of them in the standings.
"But we'll have to come out and fight because this is going to feel like a playoff game."