Edmonton Eskimos carry winning momentum into Winnipeg playoff game

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Edmonton Eskimos carry winning momentum into Winnipeg playoff game

The Edmonton Eskimos are the healthiest they've been all year heading into Sunday's playoff game against the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg.

Rap music blared across the field at Commonwealth Stadium on Friday, where players laughed and joked during practice.

The team has momentum, having won five straight games on the heels of losing six in a row.

Several key players have returned to the lineup after an injury-plagued regular season.

But the Blue Bombers have won both games against the Eskimos this season.

"It feels good to know that we're going in there with all our firepower, but that doesn't make the game any easier," said Mike Reilly. "We're going up against a great opponent in their house. It's going to be loud. It's going to be crazy. They haven't hosted a playoff game in, I wanna say since 2011. I don't think they were in their new stadium at that time."

Right on both counts.

Off the field, the Eskimos team name has been garnering attention this week. Calls for the team to change its name resurfaced after Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman raised the subject. Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson urged for the team to move quickly on a name change, before CFL fans descend on the city for the 2018 Grey Cup.

Many consider the name a slur used to describe Canada's Inuit people.

On Friday, Edmonton players were focused on their return to the playoffs and a trip to Winnipeg.

Justin Sorensen, a burly offensive lineman, sported a newly dyed blond beard to signify gold, one of the team's colours. He and other offensive lineman have made it a playoff tradition for the past two seasons.

He said the focus all year to is reach the playoffs in November.

"You're playing for your families, and trying to get another Grey Cup, another ring on your finger," said Sorensen.

"If there's snow on the ground, then it's for real."

The game starts Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The winner will play the Calgary Stampeders in the Western Final on Nov. 19.

@Travismcewancbc

​Travis.mcewan@cbc.ca