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Inside the CFL: Maybe, just maybe

Ted Michaels, CFL Editor

Hamilton, ON (Sports Network) - As we head into the final third of the CFL regular season, some story lines have your intrepid reporter musing to himself ... maybe, just maybe.

To wit:

Maybe, just maybe, the real Winnipeg Blue Bombers are now making an appearance.

This is a team that got off to a 7-1 start, thanks in part to two wins over Hamilton that the Blue Bombers were fortunate to nab this season.

This is a team that fed off the emotion and tragedy of the death of defensive line coach Richard Harris for the first half of the season, although one wonders if the emotional tank has gone empty.

Quarterback Buck Pierce suffered a rib injury on Winnipeg's opening offensive possession against Saskatchewan. On the Bombers' next series, he was the recipient of another hellacious hit, this time from Saskatchewan safety Craig Butler.

The hit was reminiscent of the one he took in Week 1 from Hamilton's Jamall Johnson. Once again, Pierce's helmet flew off, he looked woozy, and didn't finish the game - a 45-23 loss. Afterward, Pierce admitted he was "pretty beat up right now."

The Bombers play the first of three games against Montreal on the road Sunday and Pierce is listed as doubtful.

In the last two games, the Blue Bombers have been outscored 72-30 by Saskatchewan.

Perhaps Odell Willis, the self-proclaimed mayor of Swaggerville, and his teammates should spend more time shoring up their defense instead of trying to market themselves.

And isn't it interesting that Willis chose not to speak with the media after the loss?

Speaking of Montreal:

Maybe, just maybe, the defending Grey Cup champs are getting their mojo back. On Sept. 5, the Alouettes fell at Hamilton, 44-21, in a game in which the Tiger-Cats defense manhandled quarterback Anthony Calvillo.

Some CFL observers thought perhaps the Als players are showing their age.

In the days leading up to the rematch at Molson Stadium, with both teams sporting 5-4 records, Calvillo kept insisting they had to send a message to Hamilton.

Sunday afternoon, the message was delivered loud and clear.

Montreal destroyed Hamilton, 43-10, with Calvillo completing 31 of 45 passes for 421 yards and four touchdowns.

"We needed to win convincingly," Calvillo said after the game.

"We needed to set the tone, to let them know it's not going to be an easy thing to go out there and beat us. When teams, especially in our division, start beating us, they have that confidence. We wanted to bring things back to reality and it was very important for us in this locker room."

And when it comes to Hamilton:

Maybe, just maybe, to paraphrase ex-Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green, the Tiger-Cats are who we thought they were - a team that can't get to the next level.

After getting off to an 0-2 start, the Tiger-Cats then went on a 5-2 run, before the humiliating loss last weekend.

At the start of the season, it was noted in this space, that until Hamilton could beat the Als in Montreal, they would never become an elite team in the CFL.

The loss on Sunday was the 14th in a row in Montreal, with the last victory coming in October 2002.

The two teams meet again in Montreal on Oct. 16, in what could end up being a game to decide first or second place.

Over to you, Tiger-Cats:

Maybe, just maybe, Toronto Argonauts head coach and general manager Jim Barker is feeling pressure a bit.

He stubbornly stayed with Cleo Lemon as the starting quarterback before finally releasing him two weeks ago.

Prior to that, he fired defensive coordinator Chip Garber, despite the fact the offense was, and still is, the major problem in Toronto.

Right now, the Argos sit at 2-8, six points behind the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who hold down third place.

And, yet, one Argo, kicker Noel Prefontaine, insists all is not lost.

"We need to get six wins. I think that'll get us in the playoffs - somehow," he said after the Argos lost to the BC Lions, 28-6, last Saturday.

That means the Argos have to go 6-2, just to get an 8-10 record.

Good luck.

Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter, on AM 900 CHML.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Ted Michaels at ted@900chml.com.

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