The Stack joins you on this Thursday with a look ahead to plenty on the sports horizon. We have Thursday night NFL football tonight, baseball playoffs starting Friday, some big college football games this weekend and more. So let's get right to it and see what made "the stack" for today, Thursday, October 4:
Miguel Cabrera wins triple crown
For the first time since 1967, MLB has a player who has hit for the triple crown. Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera won the triple crown for the first time since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski. Cabrera finished the season batting .330 with 44 homeruns and 139 RBIs. What Cabrera did this season was nothing short of incredible. He put the Tigers on his back and helped get them the AL Central title. The AL MVP race is a heavily debated subject amongst baseball enthusiasts. Anaheim Angels rookie outfielder Mike Trout has put up incredible numbers this year and has every right to win the MVP trophy. But with Cabrera doing something that baseball hasn't seen in 45 years, and helping his team win the division, I think it is only fair that he wins the MVP. This is an amazing accomplishment. Congrats Miguel.
MLB playoff picture set
Not lost in the hoopla surrounding Cabrera and his winning the triple crown, the baseball playoffs have finally been set and it only took until the final day of the regular season to find out who would play who. The New York Yankees crushed the Boston Red Sox 14-2 giving them the AL East title. Wouldn't have mattered if they lost because the Baltimore Orioles lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 4-1 behind Evan Longoria's three homeruns. That means Baltimore will play in the wild card game on Friday against the Texas Rangers who folded more than a piece of paper down the final stretch of the regular season. The Rangers were schalacked by the Oakland Athletics 12-5 giving the A's the AL West. What has happened to the Rangers? The confidence of I feel many people including myself has all of a sudden gone from very high (maybe getting back to the World Series) to serious doubt as in they could lose to Baltimore. They play on Friday at 8:37 PM ET on TBS. The winner plays the New York Yankees with that series beginning on Sunday.
The other AL playoff series features the Detroit Tigers against the Oakland Athletics. Game 1 will be in Detroit on Saturday, October 6, with the first pitch at 6:07 PM ET . Honestly, this series is a toss up. Both teams played really well down the stretch, with each team having to rally from behind to win their divisions. The A's pitching is far better than Detroit's though the Tigers have the best pitcher in Justin Verlander. The concerning thing about the A's is their offense. I'm not nearly as confident in the A's bats as I am the Tigers. But given the strength of the A's team is their pitching, perhaps they can shut down the Tigers. Regardless, this is going to be a very good series. I think I'll take the Tigers in five games though. Honestly, either team winning wouldn't shock me.
In the NL, the Atlanta Braves will host the St. Louis Cardinals in the wild card game on Friday at 5:07 PM ET on TBS. Honestly, it is a crying shame that the Braves have to play the Cardinals given how much better the Braves were during the regular season. They're not going to go out in one game with Chipper Jones possibly playing in the final game of his career. No, they will beat the Cardinals, setting up a date with division rival Washingon Nationals. That series will begin on Sunday.
And in the other NL playoff series, the San Francisco Giants will play the Cincinnati Reds. First pitch is scheduled for Saturday, October 6, at 9:37 PM ET on TBS in San Francisco. The Reds have been the more consistent team throughout the year and they are getting their manager Dusty Baker back after health problems kept him from managing the club for a while during the regular season. The Reds have the best bullpen in baseball and I think they can figure out a way to get some hits against the Giants starting pitching staff. Tim Lincecum isn't what he was last season or the season before. I like the Reds to win the series in five games.
Honestly, I'm feeling either the Reds or the Nationals will win the World Series. But now, my prediction probably just put the kabosh on them and they will each lose in the divisional series. Sorry to Reds and Nationals fans everywhere for that.
The baseball playoffs are among us. The schedule can be found here. It should be very exciting. Playoff baseball will be at its finest. Enjoy it everyone.
NFC West showdown on Thursday night football
Sure it's not nearly as glamorous as Bears-Packers or Giants-Panthers, but this matchup certainly is more entertaining and important than it first looked when the schedule came out. The 4-0 Arizona Cardinals travel to St. Louis to take on the 2-2 Rams with kickoff at 8:20 PM ET on the NFL Network. The Cardinals are the biggest surprise at 4-0. Very few, if anyone thought they'd be undefeated at this point in the year. Heck some people thought they'd win maybe four games all year (cough, cough). They're doing a lot of it with defense though they defense wasn't that great against the Dolphins last week allowing rookie Ryan Tannehill to throw for over 400 yards. Plus the Cardinals offense hasn't gone over 300 yards in a game all year. How is this team 4-0? Well prior to last week, they hadn't thrown a pick yet. So they're being smart with the ball. But the Cardinals really struggle to run the ball. Whether it be offensive line issues, run scheme or just lack of talent at the running back position, the Cardinals have struggled. They must establish a ground game to beat the Rams. Keep them honest. The Rams have a good defense. Jeff Fisher knows what he is doing as a head coach. He'll make sure cornerback Courtland Finnegan gets under the Cardinals skin early and often. Then there's St. Louis' best player, rookie kicker Greg "the leg" Zuerlein. He's been money all year and deadly accurate with super strength. He has helped them win their two games no doubt about it. Without him, the Rams may be 1-3 or 0-4. And tonight, I think it may came down to his leg. In a toss-up game, and make no mistake about it this game is a toss-up, I like Greg the Leg to come through once again to knock off the undefeated Cardinals though it will not shock me if the Cardinals win this game. That's how even these two teams are given that the game is in St. Louis.
Prediction: Rams 19 Cardinals 17
Big college football games this Saturday
The top ten is going to have a pretty significant shake up after this weekend in college football. Two matchups feature top ten teams going against each other. Three other matchups feature a battle of two ranked teams playing against one another. So year, come Sunday, the college football rankings are going to look vastly different. The really good matchups include:
#4 LSU @ #10 Florida 3:30 PM ET CBS
LSU has not looked impressive in their last couple of games against teams they should be trouncing. I mean beating Towson by only sixteen? Not that great. Florida is a team though that I feel has the talent, but not quite that of a top ten team. I'll guess we'll see come early Saturday evening, but I like LSU to win.
#5 Georgia @ #6 South Carolina 6:00 PM ET ESPN
The winner of this game wins the SEC East. Both teams possess talented players, but I like quarterback Andy Murray and the Georgia Bulldogs a little more than the Gamecocks. Connor Shaw is a good quarterback for South Carolina, don't get me wrong, but I think Murray is suited well enough to go into a hostile environment and lead the Bulldogs to victory. I like Georgia.
#8 West Virginia @ #11 Texas 7:00 PM ET FOX
West Virginia Geno Smith is now the Heisman Trophy frontrunner and he will take his talents to Austin to tangle with the Longhorns. Texas has a pretty good defense, better than West Virginia's. Their offense is pretty good too. Not as good as West Virginia's though. What the heck. I'll go with it. Probably won't happen, but I'll pick West Virginia to win this one too.
Best of the Rest
#21 Nebraska @ #12 Ohio State 8:00 PM ET ABC
Ohio State had a big win last week against Michigan State. Now they return home to take on a Nebraska team that barely beat Wisconsin last week. Go with Ohio State.
#23 Washington @ #2 Oregon 10:30 PM ET ESPN
Washington had a nice upset win against Stanford last week. Not going to happen this week against Oregon and that offense. Oregon will crush Washington.
Miami (FL) @ #9 Notre Dame 7:30 PM ET NBC (Soldier Field in Chicago)
The Fighting Irish had a bye week last week and they will use that to full advantage to beat Miami. Notre Dame wins.
Coming up Friday: Week 5 NFL picks