Weekly Nickel 9-19-2011

Photo courtesy of fsurugger.wordpress.com. Many expected the Tampa Bay Rays to make a run at the World Series last year. Could they shock the world this year?

By Josh Kramer

There are only about 10 games left in the MLB regular season.  College Football Week 3 is in the books.  And the second week of the NFL season is nearly complete.  Last week was great, but you better believe that this one is going to be every bit as good.

Here are the events that you should be aware of.

5.  The Sprint for the Cup heads to New Hampshire next weekend.  Sure this is an obscure location, but the New Hampshire Motor Speedway will surely be rocking come next Sunday.  We are not too far from the Series home stretch, and the typical leader is not running the show at this point.  Jimmie Johnson, the 5-time defending champion currently finds himself in 5th place.  With only one win on the year, and a victory in New Hampshire last year, Jimmie really needs to step up his game in order to go for an unprecedented 6-peat.

4.  The game of musical chairs has finally made its way to the realm of college athletics.  Sure this was expected to start occurring a year ago, but now it appears to finally be here.  We all knew it was inevitable, but I can’t say that we were all ready for it.  The recent departures of Syracuse and Pittsburgh to the ACC caught the Big East and the majority of the country off guard.  This is just the beginning.  Sadly, we may be saying RIP when referring to both the Big East and the Big 12 in the near future.

3.  Week 3 is in the books and College Football Week 4 is just around the corner.  The week opens up with a bang in Cincinnati on Thursday night, and the momentum continues on all the way through Saturday night.  Here are the matchups you should keep an eye on.

-North Carolina State at Cincinnati (revenge matchup)

-North Carolina at Georgia Tech (ACC tussle)

-Notre Dame at Pittsburgh  (old school rivalry)

-Arkansas at Alabama (SEC grudge match)

-Oklahoma State at Texas A&M (Big 12 rumble)

-Florida State at Clemson (ACC favorite versus ACC dark horse)

-LSU at West Virginia (SEC and Big East’s finest)

(All picks for the big games will be released in my weekly College Football picks on Thursday)

2.  It is hard to believe, but two weeks of this highly anticipated 2011/2012 NFL season are nearly already in the books (outside of the Monday night game).  Here are the games to keep an eye on in Week 3.

-Houston at New Orleans (Up-and-comer versus established)

-New York (Giants) at Philadelphia  (NFC East battle)

-Green Bay at Chicago (NFC Title Game rematch)

-Washington at Dallas (NFC East battle)

(All of the picks for Week 3 will be included in the weekly “TheSportsKraze Pick’em Challenge” on Friday)

1.  The MLB regular season is coming to a close.  With about 10 games remaining, there are still plenty of questions that need to be answered.  Can the Sox hold off the surging Rays?  Will the Braves prevent Larussa and the Cardinals from pulling off the unthinkable, and stealing the NL Wild Card?  How many wins will Justin Verlander have when all is said and done?

Here is this week’s marquee matchup.

Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees:  Though New York has not officially clinched the AL East, it is extremely likely that they will end up winning the division.  The Rays on the other hand, are fighting for their playoff lives.  They have made a furious run and are just two games behind the Red Sox for the AL Wild Card after winning three of four at Fenway this weekend, and six of seven from the Sox in the past week.  This four game set in the Bronx could really make or break Tampa’s season.

The Rays are playing with the “We have nothing to lose” mentality.  And this is exactly how they should be playing.  With some key off-season departures, nobody expected this team to be able to keep up with New York or Boston.  The playoffs were pretty much out of the question.  I think the Rays missed the memo.  This week though, they get a taste of reality from one of the MLB’s elite offenses.  As much as the Yankee nation hates the Sox, what would the playoffs be without both teams represented?  Last year the postseason was no fun without Boston, and the Yankees laid an egg in the ALCS.  This year, they do their arch-nemisis a favor and take three of four from the Rays, helping Boston all but clinch a playoff spot.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

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