Weekend Watch Guide: Sept. 25-27
Jeff Griffith (@Jeff_Griffith21)
September 24, 2020
For the time being, we’re locked in a sports utopia.
There are literally six major professional sports leagues playing right now, with college football to boot. Three of those leagues are in the playoffs.
Deciding what to focus on is going to be a tall order; a multi-screen set up is probably going to be your friend. As such, we’re going to do our best to help you plan out your weekend viewing.
All times listed are in Eastern Time.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
Baseball’s in full swing this weekend as playoff spots get locked up. Here are all the series that kick off on Friday that you should have your finger on:
Chicago Cubs vs. Chicago White Sox: What a perfect season-ending series. While the Cubs have their division locked up, they’ve still got seeding to play for, and have the chance to spoil what would be the first White Sox division title since 2008. As for the Sox, they’ll enter the weekend either tied with or one game behind Minnesota for the AL Central lead, with Cleveland not far behind; Chicago and Cleveland wrap up a series Thursday night, and are 0.5 and 2.5 games behind the Twins respectively.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers (4 Games): The winner of this series almost definitely picks up the NL Central’s No. 2 seed, but the Reds are one to watch out for to sneak into that slot. Milwaukee currently trails St. Louis by two games in the loss column.
Minnesota Twins vs. Cincinnati Reds: While we’re talking Central divisions, you might as well follow this one, too. The Reds currently sit in the second Wild Card spot, and the Twins — as previously mentioned — sit barely atop their division, and both will be looking to either cling to or improve upon their slim leads.
That pretty much wraps up the series that involve two teams both looking to clinch major playoff positions, but a few others will be intriguing as well:
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies are one game out of the Wild Card and will play a Rays team that very well may rest its starters this weekend with the AL East crown locked up and the No. 1 seed in reach. As such, Philadelphia could very possibly play spoiler and sneak in from behind.
Miami Marlins vs. New York Yankees: The Yankees can’t win the division, but they can spoil Derek Jeter’s team’s chance at the playoffs. If the Marlins are swept, it’s pretty likely they’ll fall out of the NL East’s second spot, if not all the way out of the playoffs; they currently lead Philadelphia by half a game for both designations.
8:00 PM ET — Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Dallas Stars, Game 4
So, Tampa Bay leads 2-1, and was favored coming into the series. Friday will be the Stars’ chance to keep this series competitive and maybe pull off some more Magic. We already saw Dallas rip off three in a row against Vegas in the Western Conference Finals, so even down 2-1, the Stars aren’t out of this one. Game 4, as such, feels quite pivotal.
8:30 PM ET — Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics, Game 5
This could be it for the Celtics. 3-1 leads have been fragile this summer and fall — and all four games between these teams have been tight — but Miami appears to have the winning formula. Look for the Heat to wrap up the East Friday night, but don’t be surprised if Jayson Tatum finds his grove again and forces a Game 6 for Sunday night.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26
Finally, we have a really strong slate of college football. Here’s a staggered smattering of games worth watching throughout the day:
12 PM ET — No. 23 Kentucky vs. No. 8 Auburn: I’m not a big believer in Kentucky, but I’m not the biggest believer in Auburn, either. As such, I expect Auburn to win this game, but wouldn’t be shocked if the Wildcats expose the Tigers on the road. Either way, it’s a fun Nooner to get the day — not to mention the 2020 SEC slate — kicked off.
1:30 PM ET — Iowa State vs. TCU: TCU finally gets to play this week! The Horned Frogs are an intriguing team in a wide-open Big 12 and they’ll get their first shot against an Iowa State team that was hyped by many during the offseason and significantly let down those hopes in Week 1.
3:30 PM ET — Mississippi State vs. No. 6 LSU: What on earth do the Tigers look like in the post-Burrow era? The defending champs will open their season with a very winnable home game Saturday afternoon, and it’ll be our first chance to see what Myles Brennan, Derek Stingley and company look like, and who fills in for Ja’Marr Chase in the wake of his 2020 opt-out.
7:00 PM ET — No. 2 Alabama vs. Missouri: Obviously the Tigers are no stout opponent, but it’ll be intriguing to see what we should expect out of a full season of Mac Jones. The now-junior who was recently named the starting QB for the Tide completed 68 percent of his passes while hurling 14 scores and just three interceptions while filling in for Tua Tagovailoa.
9:00 PM ET — Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets, Game 5
“Denver should be up 3-1” is not the craziest thing to say. The Lakers earned their Game 3 win on Anthony Davis’ beautiful buzzer-beater, but it’s pretty wild to think about the fact the Nuggets are one win away from The Finals without that shot. Instead, Game 5 will be the key tiebreaker. Denver can clearly play from behind, but this is the biggest underdog they’ve been yet by far, and while going down 3-2 doesn’t feel like a death sentence, it’s close.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27
Sunday marks a pivotal point in the WNBA’s semifinal round. Here’s where both matchups stand:
1:00 PM ET — Las Vegas Aces vs. Connecticut Sun, Game 3
Connecticut went 10-12 on the regular season and absolutely worked the top-seeded Aces in Game 1. Las Vegas and its recently-crowned MVP A’ja Wilson will have a shot to even things up Thursady night, but Sunday’s Game 3 will be pivotal regardless. Connecticut forward DeWanna Bonner had 23 points, seven boards and three assists in the series opener
3:00 PM ET — Seattle Storm vs. Minnesota Lynx, Game 3
In another series that had a surprising opener, the Storm — which tied Las Vegas for the league’s top record — narrowly edged 14-8 Minnesota, 88-86 behind 25 points from Jewell Lloyd. If Minnesota doesn’t tie things up Thursday night, this one might be all but over come Sunday, but it could end up being a gigantic tiebreaker opportunity.
And as far as the NFL is concerned…
1:00 PM ET — Los Angeles Rams vs. Buffalo Bills
In this week’s only matchup up 2-0 teams, this contest should be a major clash of styles. West coast teams tend to fare poorly when they travel east, so Buffalo has the upper-hand, but the Bills should be the best defense Jared Goff and company have faced yet. The Rams hung 37 on a struggling Eagles team last week, so this may be our chance to get a full gauge on how high LA’s offense can fly this year. As for the Bills, they’ve beaten the Jets and Dolphins by a combined 13 points, so this will also be a chance to see them against a tougher opponent.
4:25 PM ET — Dallas Cowboys vs. Seattle Seahawks
These are two of the NFL’s highest-scoring offenses to date, and that’s partially because they’ve both played the Atlanta Falcons; Dallas (1-1) just put up 40 on Atlanta, while Seattle (2-0) had 38 in Week 1. Here’s the question, though — we knew Dallas should have a good offense this year, but will we get the offense we saw from the in the season’s first six quarters or the last two? If it’s the former, Seattle runs away with this one behind Russell Wilson, who has already thrown for an astounding nine touchdowns in two games. But if the Cowboys’ momentum carries over from their comeback, this one should be a shootout.
8:20 PM ET — Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints
Here’s the skinny on this week’s Sunday Night Football matchup. Green Bay is putting up points so far this season like an SEC team in late November, with back-to-back 40-point outings. The Saints arguably have the most offensive talent across the board of anyone in the NFC, but without Michael Thomas, we saw New Orleans sputter against an unproven Raiders team in Week 2. As such, the Packers could very well win this one in resounding fashion, but I’ll never count out Drew Brees until proven otherwise; anytime he’s matched up with Aaron Rodgers, you should watch.