September is one of the most exciting months in American sports. The NCAA football and National Football League seasons have begun, and Major League Baseball is in the middle of its run to the postseason. The momentum will continue through this weekend.
1. Tampa Bay Rays vs. New York Yankees (Friday, Sept. 14. 7:05 p.m. ET, MLBN)
This far into the season, baseball teams in both the American and National Leagues are in close competition for divisional titles and wild cards. One series this weekend will take place close to home, as the Rays visit Yankee Stadium for a three-game set that can make or break the Yanks’ season.
The Yankees have seen their division lead — once as high as 10 games — slip away. They are now tied with the Baltimore Orioles atop the AL East and only two games above the Rays. If the Yankees do not win this series, they face the serious possibility of missing the playoffs, which would result in one of the greatest collapses in baseball history.
2. New York Jets vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday, Sept. 16, 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS)
After walloping an inferior Buffalo Bills team in week one, Gang Green face a much tougher match against the Steelers. Quarterback Mark Sanchez, who had a great debut in the 2012 season, will have to repeat his performance against another reputable defense. On the other side, QB Ben Roethlisberger will depend on his speedy receivers to out-duel the Jets’ stellar secondary.
Another Jets victory would make three consecutive 2-0 starts for the franchise under head coach Rex Ryan, and fans and analysts would have to recognize them as elite contenders. However, the Steelers usually hold their own at home and cannot afford to fall to 0-2 for the first time since 2002.
3. Detroit Lions vs. San Francisco 49ers (Sunday, Sept. 16, 8:20 p.m., NBC)
The third and final game sports fans should watch this season features two of the NFL’s rising teams. The 49ers have staked their claim as the best team in the National Football Conference after beating the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field last week, and the Lions need to maintain a stellar record in one of the NFL’s toughest divisions, the NFC North.
After the 49ers defeated the Lions last year, an aggressive post-game handshake between head coaches Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz nearly led to a full-blown fistfight. Emotions should run high again and the game itself will feature Detroit’s high-powered offense against the San Francisco’s stiff defense.
Chris Marcotrigiano is a contributing writer. Email him at email@example.com.
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