Bombers have the edge

PAUL FRIESEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

There is no reason under this bright, November sun the Winnipeg Blue Bombers should lose today's regular-season finale against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Well, almost none.

The positives far outweigh the negatives for the home team, though.

Let us count the reasons:

THE STAKES

It's true, Marcel Bellefeuille's Tabbies can earn a home playoff date with a win today, and that's no mean feat considering how awful the Cats have been in recent years, including their 3-15 mark the last two.

But there's a big difference between playing for home-field advantage and playing for your playoff lives.

Let's face it, after what they've gone through the Ticats have already had a successful season, no matter what happens. A home playoff game would be a bonus.

The Bombers face the stark reality they'll be one of just two teams out of the CFL playoff picture if they lose. That would be a stinging condemnation of head coach Mike Kelly's program, a lousy end chapter to a soap opera season that showed some signs of turning around in the second half.

The optics of a 7-11 campaign, when Doug Berry was fired for going 8-10, just wouldn't be good for a front office desperate to keep fans on board going into next season.

As for the players, there's playoff money up for grabs, and don't think a few extra grand in the pocket isn't mighty enticing for what is generally a pretty young group.

For the old-timers, like Doug Brown, Barrin Simpson and, yes, Troy Westwood, the lure of one last shot at a Grey Cup is their incentive -- no cash necessary.

Get in the playoffs, and, pie-in-the-sky as it may be, they're two wins from playing for a title.

Enough said.\ THE GOOD MICHAEL

Bomber pivot Michael Bishop's howitzer was off the mark in Montreal last week. Badly off the mark.

Which I'll bet has made the Ticat defence nervous this week.

Being consistently inconsistent, as No. 16 has always been, means Bishop could easily come out on fire today. Given the gorgeous weather forecast, there should be nothing short of a gale-force wind that prevents him from airing it out.

Given the Bombers' lousy run game of late, I wouldn't be at all surprised if it's bombs away this afternoon.

Hit one or two deep ones to Adarius Bowman or Titus Ryan and suddenly things open up for Fred Reid along the ground.

A hot Bishop is key, and he just might be due.

THE HOME CROWD

You can't blame the semi-faithful for sitting out the last few home games, what with the direction this team appeared to heading and the constant negativity generated by Professor Kelly.

But even when the crowds are small here, they're noisy at the right times.

Given the dandy turnout expected today, thanks in part to the balmy weather all week, and given the presence of former favourite whipping boy Kevin Glenn at the helm of the Tabbies' attack, this should be fun.

I'd love to be a fly on that east-side wall, just behind the Hamilton bench, although I'm sure I'd have to wash my ears out with soap when it's over.

No. 5's in for a rough ride, and a near-full house should give the Bombers an extra jolt of adrenaline, if they need it.

There. Three reasons the Bombers should win and steal second place.

If they don't?

We'll be asking some awfully tough questions, come Monday morning.

Contact Paul at paul.friesen@sunmedia.ca or 632-2788.


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