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September 1, 2008 Table Of Contents

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Starting with A Bang

Thanks to a few tweaks to the system, a Ryder Cup subplot and an exciting A-list finish—Vijay Singh over Sergio García in overtime—the Barclays got the second edition of the playoffs off on the right foot

By Alan Shipnuck

Veteran Move

Darren Clarke's Ryder rebirth

By Jim Gorant

Big Play

By Mike Lopuszynski

Unconventional Wisdom

With the Democratic and Republican conventions in the news, here's our vision of a golf world governed by the political parties' respective platforms.

By Dick Friedman

Air Support

A fighter pilot and golf pro has a way to help our military families

By Dan Rooney


Extreme Makeover

When Brad Ziegler's career stalled, the A's reliever simply reinvented himself

By Phil Taylor


For the Record


Breaking down Beijing's winners

Being Like Mike

By Rebecca Shore

Sticky Situation

By Rebecca Shore

Rush to Judgment

MLB sprints into the age of instant replay

By Ben Reiter

Week Ahead

What to watch and watch for

By Sarah Kwak

Faces in the Crowd

Just My Type

By Dan Patrick


Gene Upshaw: 1945—2008

The Hall of Fame guard's sudden death from pancreatic cancer stunned friends and adversaries and left a huge void at the NFL Players Association, which he led for 25 years

By Gary Smith



To Serve And Protect

While teammates enjoy the limelight, Dallas's offensive line faces the toughest job in town: keeping hands off the star-powered quarterback

By Lee Jenkins

Gonna Fly Now

The Eagles' starting linebackers are short on experience—only 34 combined starts—but long on talent and smarts

By Ben Reiter

Justin Time

Losses on the Giants' defensive line mean heavy duty for Justin Tuck in his first season as a full-time starter

By Damon Hack

The Jackson One

The Vikings start seven Pro Bowl players, but it's unproven QB Tarvaris Jackson who holds the key to the postseason

By Jim Trotter

Reappearing Act

The injury-plagued Deuce McAllister and the hot-and-cold Reggie Bush owe the Saints a full season of strong running

By Damon Hack

SI's All-Unit Team

Catching Heat

The Jaguars are primed for a deep playoff run, but they need a motley crew of unproven or underachieving wide receivers to stand and deliver on their promise

By Damon Hack

Guard Duty

Pittsburgh's linemen must police the area around their passer better for the Steelers to make a serious playoff push

By Peter King

Priority: Secondary

The blame for New England's Super Bowl collapse fell heavily on the defensive backs. The result: a major rebuild

By Damon Hack

Rx for the Rush

The stats were great, but injuries sank Indy's defensive line late in '07, making health and depth twin concerns this year

By Jim Trotter

Monday Morning Quarterback—Preview Edition

I was thinking, This is the season for an AFC power shift. Then I stopped at Patriots camp and saw the Brady-Moss connection

By Peter King

Scouting Reports

By Lineups compiled by David Sabino

1 New England PATRIOTS

It's business as usual: Replacement parts have been found, everyone's locked in, the machine rolls on to the Super Bowl

By Paul Zimmerman

2 New York Jets

Brett Favre is the most notable of several newcomers, but the one to keep an eye on is linebacker Calvin Pace

By Paul Zimmerman

3 Buffalo BILLS

They shored up the defense through free agency, but where were the improvements on the other side of the ball?

By Paul Zimmerman


The Tuna has reeled in a starting QB and some sizable Fish up front. The verdict: bigger, and a bit better

By Paul Zimmerman

1 Pittsburgh STEELERS

Though the defense was the NFL's best in '07, the rush is on to develop linebackers who can get to the quarterback

By Peter King

2 Cleveland BROWNS

What's all the fuss about? A franchise on the rise has playoff potential, but a rebuilt defensive front has to deliver first

By Peter King

3 Baltimore Ravens

A beleaguered offense turns to young players for salvation, picking up the tempo and looking the defense in the eye

By Peter King

4 Cincinnati BENGALS

A new philosophy on defense—more attack-minded, more physical—might be just the jolt these underachievers need

By Jim Trotter

1 Indianapolis COLTS

While what's-his-name convalesces, Dwight Freeney and the defense are healthier—and itching for redemption

By Jim Trotter

2 Jacksonville JAGUARS

Emboldened by a strong finish and a more aggressive attack, the division's eternal also-rans are eager to assert themselves

By Peter King

3 Tennessee TITANS

As Vince Young learns some new steps, a deeper and more dangerous running game will provide a dependable fallback

By Lisa Altobelli

4 Houston TEXANS

Rosevelt Colvin is the latest defensive building block in a long-term construction project that's far from finished

By Andrew Lawrence

1 San Diego CHARGERS

How far they go depends on whether rehabbing tight end Antonio Gates can get his season off on the right foot

By Lee Jenkins

2 Denver BRONCOS

Yet another new coordinator tries to fix a defense that is vulnerable to the run—in a division full of elite backs

By Lee Jenkins

3 Kansas City CHIEFS

After years of counting on veterans, Herm Edwards has a plan—rebuild with youth. The payoff will have to wait

By Jim Trotter

4 Oakland RAIDERS

With JaMarcus Russell and Darren McFadden, the offense of the future takes shape. But the future is not now

By Lee Jenkins

1 Philadelphia EAGLES

He's already got one of the league's superbacks. Now, give Donovan McNabb some passing targets, and watch out

By Ben Reiter

2 Dallas COWBOYS

Adam Jones is the latest recovery project, and (mentored by TO and Tank!) a talent who could put Big D over the top

By Lee Jenkins

3 New York GIANTS

During the title run, linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka was left watching—and burning for a chance to get back. It's here

By Ben Reiter

4 Washington REDSKINS

Jim Zorn's offense is the seventh system in eight years for quarterback Jason Campbell—and maybe the one that sticks

By Andrew Lawrence

1 Minnesota VIKINGS

An upgraded roster means less pressure on the young QB. An improved attitude means they're serious about a playoff run

By Jim Trotter

2 Green Bay PACKERS

It's Year One A.B. and, as team brass insisted during the Favre flap, the plan is in place for a smooth transition

By Adam Duerson

3 Detroit LIONS

One of the league's worst secondaries has been rebuilt in the image of one of the best. Welcome to Tampa Bay North

By Adam Duerson

4 Chicago BEARS

They may espouse a run-first philosophy, but when Sunday comes, it will fall to the wideouts to provide the spark

By Adam Duerson


There are a lot of wrinkles—literally—on offense, so postseason hopes rest on a young, developing defense

By Peter King

2 Carolina PANTHERS

The performance of a familiar power trio—Delhomme, Smith, Peppers—will determine whether this team rocks

By Peter King

3 New Orleans SAINTS

They were a playoff-caliber team last season—for the last 12 games, that is. This year's goal: Go all-out for a full 16

By Peter King

4 Atlanta FALCONS

The Era of Good Feelings has begun in Flowery Branch. Just don't expect Good Football anytime soon

By Lisa Altobelli

1 Seattle SEAHAWKS

A ground game that ran out of gas last year is overhauled from the top down. New plan, new backs—old dominance?

By Jim Trotter

2 Arizona Cardinals

Amazing but true: There are almost no changes in the Valley of the Sun—except, the team hopes, in the standings

By Jim Trotter

3 San Francisco 49ERS

Being drafted No. 1 doesn't mean much if you can't get the job done, which is why Alex Smith is now the No. 2

By Jim Trotter

4 St. Louis RAMS

They'll need almost everything to go right'starting with all key parts in working order'for even .500 to be thinkable

By Lisa Altobelli


Sweet Redemption

By embracing a collegiate approach and putting the team first, the U.S. made up for eight years of frustration—and reclaimed gold

By Alexander Wolff


With a dominant defense, the U.S. women stretched their Olympic winning streak to 33

By Kelli Anderson

What a Finish

Usain Bolt stole the show (again) when he broke a record once thought untouchable, and after repeated disappointments, the U.S. had a run of its own

By Tim Layden

Hope Regained

Against the very opponent her former coach thought she couldn't handle, goalkeeper Hope Solo led the underdog U.S. women to gold

By Grant Wahl

The Final Out?

The U.S. juggernaut—and the sport—made a stunning exit, but the silver lining may be that both step back up to the plate in 2016

By Selena Roberts

Golden Spikers

After the queens of the sport extended their reign, the U.S. men became sultans of the sand

By E.M. Swift

From Tragedy To Triumph

By Michael Farber

A Ride on The Wild Side

By Susan Casey

America Gets Shorty

By Rebecca Sun

Inexperienced, But Full of Fight

By David Epstein

Faster, Stronger, Richer

A staggering sum of life-changing bonuses helped spur China to the top of the gold medal count

By S.L. Price


Inside: The Week In Sports

Staying Power

Theo Epstein's reign in Boston is built to last, but several of his fellow executives face a less certain future

By Jon Heyman

Tough Breaks

USC and UCLA lost their top quarterbacks to injury, but as so often happens, the Bruins were hit harder

By Phil Taylor

Painful Starts

By Mark Beech

Rising Son

Wide receiver Duron Carter will attend Ohio State like his father, Cris—but his first priority is to win another state title

By Andy Staples

Counter Plays

Ricky Williams leads a list of high-risk (and sometimes quirky) picks that will make your draft bold and beautiful

By David Sabino

Point After

The Healing Season

By Selena Roberts


Leading Off


How Many Second Chances Do You Get?

The Bengals vowed to get tough on troublemakers. Then they re-signed Chris Henry

By Terry McDonell