10/18/2013 04:54 EDT | Updated 12/18/2013 05:12 EST

Blue Bombers clinging to faint playoff hopes ahead of game against Argos

WINNIPEG - Glenn January doesn't want to be officially knocked out of the playoff race on Saturday.

That's why the veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers offensive lineman isn't going to think about the lose-and-you're-out scenario that the Bombers (3-12) are facing against the visiting Toronto Argonauts (9-6).

"We're not really focusing on big-picture stuff like that," January said after Friday's walk-through at Investors Group Field. "We're focusing just on this game. This is a good challenge for us coming off a short week against a team that's going to throw a lot of different looks at you."

For Winnipeg to reach the post-season, they need to win their last three games and Montreal (6-9) needs to lose its final three. Winnipeg has won the season series against the Alouettes.

Toronto has a lot at stake in the game, too.

A loss to the Blue Bombers would open the door for Hamilton (8-7) to pull even with the first-place Argos, provided the Tiger-Cats defeat Montreal on Sunday. The Ticats hold the tiebreaker after winning the season series against the Argos.

If Toronto defeats Winnipeg, they'll clinch a home playoff date. The Bombers could give the Argos a fight as they're going into Saturday's game on a rare high note.

Winnipeg defeated the Alouettes 34-27 last Monday in Montreal, forcing the Als to commit seven turnovers. Toronto, meanwhile, is coming off two straight losses to Hamilton, including a 24-18 defeat last Monday.

The Argos' offence will once again be guided by Ricky Ray, who's back for his second game after recovering from a shoulder injury.

The 11-year veteran said he wasn't even aware a victory would end the Bombers' playoff quest.

"Our focus is on us more than anybody else," Ray said. "We want to win and keep our lead in the East Division. That's been our focus."

Ray put up his 71st career 300-yard passing game in the loss to Hamilton.

His interception-free streak ended at 247 passing attempts with a pick late in that game. His touchdown-to-interception ratio this season is an impressive 17-1.

"I thought (backup Zach) Collaros did a very good job while Ricky was hurt, but now that he's back, he's a Hall of Fame quarterback so he definitely makes the offence go," Bombers head coach Tim Burke said.

Bombers pivot Max Hall will make his fifth start in a row and seventh overall for the Bombers. He recorded his first victory against the Als and was interception-free for the first game this season.

He sees plenty of motivation for the Bombers to win their first back-to-back games since August 2011.

"We're not out," Hall said of the playoff picture. "Obviously, I'm going to be cliche and say we've got to take it one game at a time and all that stuff, but what we can control is this week, and if we can win this week we might have another chance next week to stay in the playoffs.

"But having said that, we're all still playing to keep our jobs, No. 1. And No. 2, I also think it is a pride thing. We want to go out there and play well.

"We get another chance to play in front of our fans, who pay good money to come watch us play, so we want to give them a show and beat a really good team if we can."

The Argos have twice lost two in a row this season, but haven't dropped three straight yet this year.

"I think our guys do a good job of keeping things in perspective, and not trying to get too high when you win four in a row and realize you're probably not playing quite as badly as people think when you lose two in a row," Toronto head coach Scott Milanovich said.

Asked how the Argonauts stack up to their league counterparts, Burke's answer supported the tight race in the East.

"Right now, I would rate Calgary as the best team in the league. I think they're really solid all the way around," Burke said. "And then it would be either Toronto or Hamilton."

Notes: Milanovich brought running back Chad Kackert (shoulder) on the trip and said he'd be a game-time decision. … Toronto has trailed after the first quarter for four games in a row. … The Bombers' defence has held their opponents to less than 300 net yards in two of their last three games. ... Bombers receiver Mike Sims-Walker is replacing Aaron Kelly (concussion), while defensive end Mike McAdoo is making his CFL debut.