In this magical CFL season, let’s talk magic.
This one is brought to you by the magic number two. Any combinations of Winnipeg wins and Hamilton losses totalling two gives the Blue Bombers a home playoff date.
The Bombers can do their bit Saturday afternoon at Commonwealth when they visit the Edmonton Eskimos.
They’ll be facing a team trying to regain its offensive magic, a team that has gone 3-6 since blasting out of the gate with five straight wins.
The Ricky Ray to Fred Stamps combination has turned cold since Bombers defender Jonathan Hefney accidentally clipped the Eskimos slotback in a tender area back in August.
After surgery, Stamps sat out three games. When he came back, the magic was gone.
Stamps had five TD catches in six games before the incident.
He has just one in the last five games since his return.
Eskimos head coach Kavis Reed is fully aware of the challenge that faces his offence in this Battle of Tied for First Place Teams.
As the Bombers defensive co-ordinator in 2010, Reed had a first-hand glance at just how much Winnipeg’s defence has meant to this team’s turnaround.
“That’s what continuity does for you, that’s what patience does for you,” said Reed. “Winnipeg is the poster child for patience. In this league, a lot of the fan base needs to look at Winnipeg and see what patience will do for you. All too often, we want the answers now, we want the solutions now, we want the championships now.
“A little bit of patience will allow you to have a sustainable, successful franchise and Winnipeg has spoken volumes toward that theory.”
Both franchises have turned their fortunes around after missing the playoffs in 2010.
The last time Winnipeg was in the playoffs, they hosted the 2008 crossover game. Lost 29-21 to the Eskimos.
Not that that’s about to happen again this year, but the Bombers are coming off one of their better defensive efforts of the season against Hamilton.
Saturday, they’re facing a team that was able to put up only 17 points against Saskatchewan, the CFL’s weakest defence.
“We’ll see what we can be successful with in what we’re going to employ,” said Bombers defensive lineman Doug Brown, who’s making his final Commonwealth Stadium appearance.
If there’s any disappointment in that fact, Brown wishes he could have faced off against his former teammates on the Eskimos offensive line, Aaron Fiacconi and Kyle Koch, both out with injuries.
“You always hope when you face a rookie (centre Gord Hinse), they’re respectful of their elders and maybe they’ll bring me a parting gift I can take into my retirement,” said Brown.
Offensively, Pierce didn’t miss a step last week after sitting out his start the week before against Montreal. Home playoff date? There’s bigger fish to fry.
“We’re focused on us getting the wins,” said Pierce. “We don’t have to do any math right now. We know we’re in the playoffs. Our ultimate goal is to be where we want to be in November (Grey Cup game). Gettin’ first in the East is a big step toward that.”
Pierce promises he won’t abandon his reckless abandon style, even though a playoff berth is locked.
“That’s part of who I am for me to be successful,” said Pierce. “I think our organization understands that. I have slid a bit more this year, but I’ll still be an aggressive player.”