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September 4, 2006 Table Of Contents

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Sound Sleepers

Sure, they're a bit of a gamble, but these five players are primed for their big breakout. If your bet on one or more of them pays off, you could be sitting pretty come December

By Gene Menez

Seen & Heard

By Gene Menez

Need To Know

By David Sabino

Trainig Camp Confidential

THE LATEST NEWS YOU CAN USE

By Jeffri Chadiha

5 Minute Fantasy

By Jeffri Chadiha

From the Editor

Welcome to the NFL

SI's coverage goes deeper

By Terry McDonell

Air and Space

The Center of Two Worlds

By Steve Rushin

Inside: The Week in Sports

Inside

Inside

Baseball

By Albert Chen

Tom Verducci's View

By Tom Verducci

Motor Sports

By Richard O'Brien

Pro Basketball

By Chris Ballard

College Football

By Phil Taylor

2006 NFL Preview

Believe

A team jumping from worst to first isn't so rare anymore, which means everyone's preseason playoff hopes aren't crazy at all. It really is anybody's ball game

By Peter King

Everybody Wins

By Peter King

Play Loud

Yeah, his bark is bad--but his bite is worse, which is what makes voluble All-Pro Joey Porter not just the most quotable but also the most feared player in football

By Michael Silver

Just Arrived

They are the next generation of NFL superstars, nine players coming off big years in which they revealed extraordinary talent that has placed them among the elite

Back in the Open

Larry Johnson's transformation from enigmatic malcontent to maturing leader has been as quick and dramatic as one of his bursts up the middle

By Jeffri Chadiha

Scouting Reports

By Lineups compiled by David Sabino

1 Miami Dolphins

The starting lineup makes this club the AFC team to beat! (It's a different story if stars like Daunte Culpepper go down)

By Paul Zimmerman

2 New England Patriots

Jangled nerves in Foxborough? Hardly obvious on first look--but closer inspection reveals some trouble in football paradise

By Paul Zimmerman

3 Buffalo Bills

While quarterbacking remains the talk of the town, it's the high-impact special teams that could spark a resurgence

By Paul Zimmerman

4 New York Jets

The new coach made his name patching up the Patriots' defense, but the holes in this team won't be easily filled

By Paul Zimmerman

1 Pittsburgh Steelers

The coach's future is uncertain, but the quarterback of the Super Bowl champs will leave no doubt who's boss on the field

By Michael Silver

2 Baltimore Ravens

Starting with the passer, the retooled roster is a Who's Who of onetime stars. The question is, How much do they have left?

By Bill Syken

3 Cincinnati Bengals

Forget about the high-powered offense for a minute. Even if Carson Palmer comes back strong, is the defense up to snuff?

By Bill Syken

4 Cleveland Browns

Roster turnover has produced hope for the 3-4 defense and-smile if you've heard this one before-stability at quarterback

By Bill Syken

1 Indianapolis Colts

The team that always produces regular-season pyrotechnics looks for ways to keep from petering out in the playoffs

By Peter King

2 Jacksonville Jaguars

The "reward" for last year's big success is a tougher schedule, but this team-eager to go deeper in the playoffs-can handle it

By Peter King

3 Tennessee Titans

Bring Vince Young along slowly? Don't count on it. He'll get a sniff of the action early, and then ... let's see what happens

By Peter King

4 Houston Texans

While Mario Williams is a quick fix on D, there's a lot of work involved (new system, new players) with repairing the offense

By Nunyo Demasio

1 Denver Broncos

The AFC runners-up got a big-play threat in Javon Walker, the missing ingredient in their drive to the Super Bowl

By Jeffri Chadiha

2 Kansas City Chiefs

There will be Law and order on defense with the arrivals of a Pro Bowl corner and a coach who made his name as a DB

By Jeffri Chadiha

3 San Diego Chargers

The future is riding on the right arm of Philip Rivers-and for a guy who's thrown only 30 NFL passes, he isn't worried

By Jeffri Chadiha

4 Oakland Raiders

Back in Silver and Black, Art Shell is cracking the whip, and the Hall of Fame tackle is starting with the offensive line

By Jeffri Chadiha

1 Washington Redskins

There's plenty of coaching brainpower and player talent on board, but now it's a matter of making it all fit together

By Michael Silver

2 New York Giants

For a big postseason drive, a consistently dominant defense and the development of Manning the Younger are paramount

By Michael Silver

3 Dallas Cowboys

They took a big chance on the game's most controversial player, but if all goes well, the potential payoff is huge

By Jeffri Chadiha

4 Philadelphia Eagles

Happiness is life without T.O. But how long will the smiles last if Donovan McNabb doesn't get the help he needs?

By Michael Silver

1 Chicago Bears

Coach Lovie Smith continues to emphasize defense, but it's time for Rex Grossman and the offense to pull their weight

By Tim Layden

2 Detroit Lions

The Motor City makeover brings a new coach, a new offense, a new quarterback and-most important-a new attitude

By Tim Layden

3 Minnesota Vikings

It's a clean slate (well, almost) for a new coach who has big plans for the offense and for keeping the players in line

By Tim Layden

4 Green Bay Packers

Brett Favre takes one more shot, but glory will be elusive unless the line, the back and the wideouts all come through

By Tim Layden

1 Carolina Panthers

A team that was one healthy back short of the Super Bowl last year will go all the way if its ground game stays potent

By Peter King

2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Chris Simms--led offense needs a fast start to work out the kinks and gear up for a brutal second-half schedule

By Peter King

3 Atlanta Falcons

They have a running problem, and it's not Michael Vick. The defense has to do a better job of stopping ballcarriers

By Peter King

4 New Orleans Saints

Their return to the Big Easy and the debut of Reggie Bush have fans buzzing; if only there were more to be excited about

By Peter King

1 Seattle Seahawks

Losing the league's best guard is a serious blow to the ground game-not serious enough to deny a third straight division title

By Peter King

2 St. Louis Rams

The Greatest Show on Turf is sticking closer to earth as a new coach puts a renewed emphasis on rushing and defense

By Nunyo Demasio

3 Arizona Cardinals

There's a phoenix rising from a new nest in Glendale, though it must learn to run before it can fully take wing

By Nunyo Demasio

4 San Francisco 49ers

A new coordinator and additional playmakers help the offense, but this club is still taking only baby steps back to respectability

By Nunyo Demasio

Life of Reilly

The People's Choices

By Rick Reilly

Departments

Strength in Numbers

The U.S. women are so deep in talent that the competition to go to the worlds has never been fiercer

By Brian Cazeneuve

A Herd of Zebras

A third brother having earned his stripes, the Paganellis are the first trio of siblings to officiate in the NFL

By Franz Lidz

Leading Off

Letters

Does Power Corrupt?

Absolutely, say Tiger Woods and others who worry that high-tech golf equipment--and the threat of steroids--are hurting the game

By Alan Shipnuck

Who's Hot / Who's Not

For the Record

Going Nowhere?

Baseball's internal steroid probe may be little more than hype

By Tom Verducci

Q & A Drew Barrymore

The actress (Fever Pitch) costars in the upcoming poker drama Lucky You

By Richard Deitsch

The Beat

By Adam Duerson

Week Ahead

What to watch and watch for

By Chris Mannix

Faces in the Crowd