Toronto -- Five storylines to consider as the Blue Bombers prepare to battle the Argonauts tonight at Rogers Centre:
1. Buck or buckle?
If Winnipeg Blue Bombers QB Buck Pierce finishes the game he starts at Rogers Centre this evening, he will have to overcome the odds to do so.
Pierce has started just five games for the Bombers in 2012 -- and he's had to leave early in three of those. Overall, injuries have now knocked Pierce out of 26 of the 80 games he's played in during his CFL career, including 23 games in which he was the starter.
That's an awful lot of history working against Pierce and his performance this year suggests it's getting worse, not better.
2. SAM I am
It is without a doubt the single most complex defensive position in the Winnipeg scheme and the Bombers will have a raw rookie -- in the league and at the position -- performing it for them tonight.
Demond Washington will become Winnipeg's fourth strong-side linebacker this season and that sound you heard this week was Argos head coach Scott Milanovich and quarterback Ricky Ray licking their chops at the prospect of isolating Washington the way Calgary did to his SAM predecessor, Jovon Johnson, last week.
Expect to see Washington tested early and often.
3. Road warriors?
The Bombers have won just once on the road this season, but what a win it was.
Winnipeg's victory over Montreal at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium two weeks ago was an epic upset and exactly the kind of clutch victory diehards thought might finally enable the Bombers to turn the corner on this miserable season.
The elation was short-lived as the Bombers promptly lost at home to Calgary last week, but the Montreal win still proved victory on the road is at least a possibility.
What's more, the Bombers are 2-2 in their last four games when you add a win over Hamilton in mid-September to the mix -- a vast improvement on the 2-9 start they posted to begin this season.
4. Kito comes alive?
Kito Poblah has provided rare glimpses this season of the promising future the Bombers brain trust believes he will have in the CFL -- and he still completely disappears from the field of play much too often.
Poblah has just one TD and only 352 yards receiving this season, a production total everyone, including him, agrees is not even close to what he's capable of producing.
But with non-import slotback Cory Watson now out for the season, Poblah moved to slotback from his customary wide receiver position in practice this week.
If practice on Wednesday is any indication, the move agrees with Poblah, who seemed to thrive on being the middle of the action opposed to being at wideout.
5. Do or die
After bumbling their way to just four wins in their first 15 games, the Bombers' margin of error to make the playoffs has now been reduced to zero.
Winnipeg needs to win their final three regular-season games just to keep their tiny playoff hopes alive -- and even then it would be a stretch.
Still, where there's hope, there's life and the Winnipeg players have said for weeks they will not give up on making the playoffs until the prospect is a mathematical impossibility.
The impossible becomes possible this week. We'll see how Winnipeg responds.