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This article was published 19/10/2009 (4056 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Opinion

With a 6-9 record for the 2009 season, the reality of the remaining schedule is no longer something that is escapable or deniable. And the truth of the situation we are facing is that the best we can hope to accomplish in the most optimal of all conditions is to win as many games as we have lost.

The worst-case scenario, of course, is to finish with a record that this organization has not seen since 2005, when we went 5-13 under the tutelage of Jim Daley. But we will only cross that bridge if we have to.

Three-game winning streaks are very possible in the CFL -- we just came off one -- but when you are facing the undisputed top team in the country in back-to-back games, such a run proves to be a little more difficult pursuit than in other conditions.

But all hope is not lost. As someone who himself was once sitting pretty at 14-2 way back in 2001, I realize how possible it is for the regular-season champion to lose a game or two down the stretch as the end of the season approaches, and it's because of the simple fact that at this juncture, the Als have a lot more to think about and decisions to make than we do.

You see, as the oddmakers have revealed, and most of us are aware, the Alouettes are the odds-on favourite to win the 2009 Grey Cup. In fact, just like us in 2001, it has already been decided that all they have to do to get there is to win one little measly game at home, due to the fact that with several games left in the regular season, they have clinched the Eastern Division, a first-round bye and a berth in the Eastern final, to be played at Olympic Stadium.

Whereas every game remaining for us can and may determine whether we even have an opportunity to extend our season. Whether they like it or not, these final three games are meaningless to Montreal in terms of standings, positioning and playoff expectations.

Unlike Montreal, we have no choice but to play our best players each and every snap and hope they all perform at their highest level.

Nobody can match or beat Montreal's record this season, regardless of how things play out, and all they stand to lose is an integral piece of their dynamic puzzle.

In fact, the dilemma they face right now is this: If they don't play all their starters the next three games, they may lose their edge, their momentum and their dominance over the rest of the CFL. But if they play all their starters the next three games and a Calvillo or a Cobourne or a Chiu or a Richardson gets seriously nicked up, then they affect their chances to compete successfully in the big picture here, which is the Eastern final and the Grey Cup.

That is the physical and tangible dilemma they face. The only other thing that makes a championship-calibre team remotely vulnerable in the waning moments of a regular season is the desperation factor.

As an example of this desperation, look no farther than the Stampeders of 2001, who had to beat us simply to entertain the thoughts of a post-season berth. When everything is wrapped up, do you scratch and claw and fight for that extra inch and lay waste to your body to the same extent as someone who is in survival mode on a game-by- game basis?

Every indication thus far has told us the Als have no problem keeping those competitive fires burning in meaningless games, but as someone who has been there and done that, you wonder how much of a challenge it is for them to remain focused now that they can accomplish little other than personal and team milestones as the year comes to a close.

Hard to believe, ladies and gentlemen, but there are actually problems that go hand in hand with being too good a football team. Though it's hard to remember back that far when this organization faced the same dilemma, winning almost all of the time has its own inherent problems, too.

We should be so lucky.

Doug Brown, always a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays in the Free Press.

Doug Brown

Doug Brown
Columnist

Doug Brown, always a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays in the Free Press.

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