Playoffs, rematches and rivalries: Inside Sunday's 28-game sports equinox

It is the most wonderful time of the year for sports fans.

Sunday marks the second sports equinox of 2022 – a day on which North America's five major professional men's sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL and MLS) will play actual live regular season or playoff games.

Sports equinoxes used to be fairly rare but have become more common recently – especially when the COVID-19 pandemic forced every league to change their respective schedules in 2020 and 2021.

Thursday's sports equinox was joined by the Arizona Cardinals' win over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday Night Football, the Houston Astros' win over the New York Yankees in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, the Philadelphia Union FC and Los Angeles FC wins. MLS playoffs, Milwaukee Bucks' and LA Clippers' primetime NBA wins and a full slate of 12 NHL games on FOX Sports 1. LAFC's and Clippers' wins came with some added crosstown significance as they defeated in-town rivals the LA Galaxy and Los Angeles Lakers, respectively.

Sunday's sporting equinox could be even better, with a total of 28 games on tap across five leagues. Additionally, Florida is hosting the NASCAR Dixie Vodka 400 and the National Women's Soccer League has two playoff games of its own: the Portland Thorns face the San Diego Wave and the OL Rain face the Kansas City Current.

Here are the best games to help you navigate Sunday's sports smorgasbord.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs @ San Francisco 49ers4:25 p.m. ET, FOX

Sunday's America's Game of the Week on FOX has long been circled on the calendar because the Chiefs and 49ers will meet for the first time since Kansas City's comeback victory over San Francisco in Super Bowl LV. Then the 49ers traded for Christian McCaffrey.

McCaffrey, a former Heisman Trophy finalist at college closer Stanford, reportedly could suit up at Levi's Stadium for his 49ers debut on Sunday, albeit in a limited role after returning to the Bay Area on Thursday.

Still, his presence will give fans their first taste of what McCaffrey can do in a Kyle Shanahan-designed offense with star wide receiver DeBo Samuel.

Meanwhile, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs need to beat the No. 2 scoring defense in the NFL to avoid falling to 4-3 after losing to the league's No. 1 scoring defense — the Buffalo Bills — last week.

Buckle up, because this game could go down to the wire.

MLB: National League Championship Series Game 5: San Diego Padres A Philadelphia Phillies2:37 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1

Many predicted that a National League East team would reach the World Series early in the playoffs.

But virtually everyone thought the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets, who each won 101 games, would be the teams. Not the 89-win Phillies, who played as the third NL wild card team in the extended MLB playoffs.

Yet here the Phillies clawed their way into a World Series berth after a wild NLCS Game 4 in which they came back from a 4-0 deficit to win 10-6. Manager Rob Thompson — who spent most of the year with an interim tag on his title after taking over from Joe Girardi in May — will turn the ball over to Game 1 starter Zach Wheeler as the Phillies try to continue their magical October run.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at LA Clippers, 10 pm ET, check local listings

A lot can change in a year.

Since knocking off the Sun Clippers in the 2021 Western Conference Finals to reach the NBA Finals for the second time in franchise history, Phoenix has been through a rollercoaster of sky-high highs on the court and shocking lows both on and off the court.

Among the Suns' franchise running sales, Phoenix is ​​1-1 in the young NBA season. Phoenix's first two games were both thrilling – a double-digit comeback revenge game against the Dallas Mavericks and a blown lead on the road over the Portland Trail Blazers – but now the Suns face a tough test against a Clippers team playing their first true game in nearly 18 months with a healthy Kawhi Leonard. home games.

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets A New York Rangers5 pm ET, check local listings

Hello, old friend.

The Blue Jackets appear to have entered rebuilding mode following the departure of several key players who signed with the Rangers in 2019 free agency, including star winger and points leader Atrami Panarin. But Columbus then shocked the NHL world last offseason by signing Johnny Gaudreau to fill the positional void left by Panarin's departure. Blue Jackets fans now get a chance to see their team's new superstar in action against his old one as Gaudreau faces Panarin and the Rangers for the first time as a Blue Jacket.

MLS: Eastern Conference Semifinals: New York City FC A CF Montreal1 p.m. ET, ESPN

something has to give

NYCFC is looking to become the first team to repeat as MLS Cup champions since the LA Galaxy in 2011 and 2012. NYCFC enters Montreal on a five-game winning streak as they look to recapture some championship magic, but Montreal is 5-0 during all-home playoff games.

Ismaël Koné & Co. Can they stop the defending champs in their tracks, or will NYCFC take one step closer to back-to-back titles?

Blazin' 5: Seahawks upset Chargers, 49ers beat Chiefs at home

Colin Cowherd shares his Blazin' 7 week 5 picks.

So, there you have it, folks. Get your popcorn ready because Sunday's sports will be one for the equinox. Where will you observe the action?

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