HAMILTON -- Five storylines to consider as the Blue Bombers prepare to battle the Tiger-Cats today at Ivor Wynne Stadium:
1. Which streak comes to an end?
The Bombers have not won games in consecutive weeks since August 2011. The Ticats have not beaten the Bombers since 2010.
One of those two streaks ends today.
2. Buck or buckle?
Want to know what the presence of QB Buck Pierce in the lineup means to the Bombers? Consider these numbers, assembled this week by CFL statistician Steve Daniel:
-- Of the 14 games Buck Pierce has played in from start to finish since he joined the Bombers in 2010, the Bombers have won 12.
Consider that number again -- the Bombers are 12-2 in games in which Pierce has started and is still playing when the final gun sounds.
Now, a little context is in order -- that 12-2 record does not include two losses to Saskatchewan in 2011 and one to Montreal this year in which Pierce started but was lifted late in the game not because of injury, but because Winnipeg was losing.
But even if you register those three losses to Pierce -- and it only seems fair -- the Bombers are still 12-5 in games in which Pierce starts and doesn't get hurt.
Want to win today? Simple -- keep your starting quarterback healthy.
3. What's the rush?
The Bombers have had the CFL's leading offence for the past five games, averaging 411 yards and 25 first downs a game.
Still, the belief here in Hamilton is that if the Tiger-Cats can stop the Bombers running game -- which put up 260 yards last week in a win in Toronto over the Argonauts -- then they can stop the Bombers.
Ticats middle linebacker Rey Williams even said as much Friday. "I think they're going to pound it," said Williams. "They're going to try and run it and we're planning on stopping it... Our goal is to make them one-dimensional, to make them put it in the air."
4. History lesson?
There is more than a little symmetry to the fact the Bombers and Tiger-Cats will play today in what will be the final regular-season game at 84-year-old Ivor Wynne Stadium.
The same two teams, of course, played in last year's East final in what was supposed to be the final game at Canad Inns Stadium.
That, of course, proved not to be the case, but the stakes in both games are similar in that in both cases the loser was/is eliminated from Grey Cup contention.
The Bombers unquestionably got a lift from the history involved in last year's East final -- although the bitter weather conditions that day played the largest role in a game that was won on the ground.
Whether the presence of former Hamilton greats at today's game -- including members of the famed 1972 team that was the only Ticats team to win the Grey Cup at Ivor Wynne -- gives the current Ticats a similar lift remains to be seen, but QB Henry Burris certainly thinks it will.
"Guys have talked about it in the locker-room," Burris said Friday, "and we want to send Ivor Wynne out with a bang."
Of course, the weather is also supposed to be lousy today, so if that plays a determining role, that also wouldn't be the first time.
5. Which Henry Burris?
There have been two versions of Ticats QB Henry Burris this season:
-- There is the Burris who has completed 64.9 per cent of his attempts, has thrown 37 touchdown passes and has a league-leading 104.6 QB efficiency rating;
-- And then there's the Burris who for reasons no one quite understands -- including him -- simply implodes every now and then and does things like lose three fumbles in a single game as he did in a loss to Winnipeg in August.
If the first Burris shows up today, a vulnerable Bombers defence could be in trouble. But if it's the second one, they will feast.