Five storylines to consider as the Blue Bombers prepare to battle the Alouettes today at Canad Inns Stadium:
1. Worst? Or second worst?
With the Hamilton Tiger-Cats eliminated from the playoffs after losing 43-40 to the Toronto Argonauts on Thursday -- way to rise to the occasion, Ticats defence -- the Bombers would become just the second worst team in Canada if they beat the Alouettes this afternoon.
With a victory, the Bombers and Ticats would both finish with identically pathetic 6-12 records. But because Hamilton lost the season series to Winnipeg, the Ticats would be anointed as last overall.
The upside for the Bombers would be they could save a little face.
The downside is that the CFL would award the first overall selection in next year's draft to the Tiger-Cats and the Bombers would pick second overall.
Of course, given Bombers GM Joe Mack's checkered history at the draft, a high pick doesn't necessarily mean the Bombers get a quality player anyway.
2. The quarterback audition(s)
With all the uncertainty surrounding who will be the No. 1 QB heading into training camp next year, today's game gives the club's brain trust -- and fans -- a chance to look at three of the potential prospects.
Third-stringer Alex Brink will get his fourth start of the year and was enthused this week to get one last chance to lay down some film for the Bombers coaching staff to consider over the winter. Brink feels like he's steadily improved and he's gotten all the first-team reps in practice this week, although the Bombers first team has looked like the scout team with so many injury replacements on it.
Fourth-stringer Justin Goltz will also get some action today, which will please the Bombers fans who have been clamouring all season for the club to at least give the kid a look. While Goltz will definitely make appearances as part of a wildcat package, it sounds like he'll also get some regular reps.
And finally, there's Montreal backup pivot Adrian McPherson, who will start for the Als today but will also be auditioning for the Bombers. McPherson is a free agent after this season and he could be a fit for the Bombers if they decide they no longer want to move forward with Buck Pierce as their No. 1 guy next season.
3. The final farewell II
The Als locked up first place in the East Division a couple of weeks ago and the Bombers were eliminated from the playoffs last week, so there's not a lot on the line today.
But this is the final game ever to be played at Canad Inns Stadium and there is motivation in the Bombers locker-room to at least send the unlovable old barn out with a victory.
How much that adds up to on the field, however, is as good a question as how many fans show up in the stands today. The Bombers have sold about 26,000 tickets for today's game, but it seems likely a lot of those seats will go unfilled under the circumstances.
4. A winning note
The Bombers are 3-3 in their last six games -- their best six-game record since midway through the 2011 season -- and a win today would end this deplorable 2012 season on an actual winning run.
5. The new old era
The consensus among the players was that the decision to keep both head coach Tim Burke and general manager Joe Mack on for next season was a positive move that will provide the team the stability they need to grow in a nurturing environment... blah, blah, blah.
Prove it. You like those two guys so much, then go out today and win a game and prove to all the critics out there that there's some heart in this corpse.