September 3, 2012 Table Of Contents - Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com
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September 3, 2012 Table Of Contents

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LEADING OFF

LEADING OFF

GOLF PLUS

LOOKING FOR ANSWERS

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III was already losing sleep over his four wild-card selections when Nick Watney entered the discussion with his out-of-nowhere victory at the Barclays

By Alan Shipnuck

WHAT SLUMP?

By Dottie Pepper

MY BAG: Jonathan Byrd

NFL 2012

Peter King's 2012 Awards

A closer look at the players SI's pro football expert predicts will take home the hardware

By Peter King

The Sky's The Limit

An aerial explosion—multiple 5,000-yard passers in one season!—is forcing us to rewrite the record book and rethink what's possible

By Peter King

Megatron And Mega-Arm

Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson, the most prolific quarterback-receiver combination in football, have lifted the Lions—and are ready to shake up the record book, too

By Michael Rosenberg

American Badass

He spits teeth, yanks down quarterbacks one-handed and, at 32, has emerged as a dominant football force through intense workouts, painstaking study and sheer will. San Francisco's Justin Smith is everything a defender should be

By Jim Trotter

The Last Happy Man

Hero. Jester. Prodigy. Knucklehead. The league's best hope and worst nightmare. Rob Gronkowski of the Patriots is a 265-pound bundle of raw energy and rocking good times, and he could become the best tight end in history. Right now, though, he just wants to keep the party going

By Chris Ballard

PACKERS 33 BRONCOS 30

Aaron Rodgers versus Peyton Manning? Now that's a Super showdown worth wishing for

By Peter King

THE MAIL

THE MAIL

Scouting Reports

Scouting Reports

Scouting Reports AFC EAST

1 NEW ENGLAND: Patriots

Adding a stretch-the-field receiver to an already record-breaking attack will make the perennial power nearly unstoppable

By Ben Reiter

2 BUFFALO: Bills

Prize free-agent pass rusher transforms long-dormant franchise into Super Bowl contender: Is Mario Williams Reggie White redux?

By Ben Reiter

3 NEW YORK: Jets

What quarterback controversy? Time for this once-riven roster to zip its collective lips and get back to basics

By Ben Reiter

4 MIAMI: Dolphins

In case you haven't heard, there's a new sheriff in town. But does he have the horses to restore hope to the fans in Miami?

By Peter King

Scouting Reports AFC NORTH

1 BALTIMORE: Ravens

The guard is changing before our eyes, and the future rests with a group of rising young defenders and a playoff-proven Joe Flacco

By Albert Chen

2 CINCINNATI: Bengals

Andy Dalton and A.J. Green led a Queen City renaissance in 2011, but they'll have to think bigger to take this team to the next level

By Albert Chen

3 PITTSBURGH: Steelers

Can Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley coexist? That's the main story line on an offense playing the transition game

By Albert Chen

4 CLEVELAND: Browns

The greatest rookie experiment in memory might not produce an instant winner, but it should be a blast to watch

By Albert Chen

Scouting Reports AFC SOUTH

1 HOUSTON: Texans

Time for the division's new power to prep itself for a long run at the top. First order of business: make a call at quarterback

By Don Banks

2 TENNESSEE: Titans

The wait is now over, this is officially Jake Locker's team. With a lethal supporting cast, he isn't being thrown to the wolves

By Andrew Lawrence

3 INDIANAPOLIS: Colts

The horseshoe on the helmet isn't there for nothing: As the post-Peyton era begins, at least they've got Luck on their side

By Peter King

4 JACKSONVILLE: Jaguars

There are posh new digs thanks to a free-spending owner, but the building of a contender begins with the second-year quarterback

By Peter King

Scouting Reports AFC WEST

1 KANSAS CITY: Chiefs

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the playmakers who missed 2011 are back with renewed postseason purpose

By Jim Trotter

2 DENVER: Broncos

There's a new guy in the saddle—you may have heard a bit about him—and he's sending everyone's confidence mile high

By Jim Trotter

3 SAN DIEGO: Chargers

The conference's perennial underachievers have a new mantra on defense: Keep it simple, don't overthink. But is that a Super Bowl formula?

By Jim Trotter

4 OAKLAND: Raiders

As a new era dawns for the Silver and Black, hopes hinge on whether Carson Palmer can find his franchise form of old

By Jim Trotter

Scouting Reports NFC EAST

1 DALLAS: Cowboys

A young running back's bruising style may have inspired just the attitude adjustment the Boys need to get back to the playoffs

By Don Banks

2 NEW YORK: Giants

The defending champs' roster is again stacked with versatile and experienced players—except at one critical position

By Ben Reiter

3 PHILADELPHIA: Eagles

The clock ticking on his Super Bowl quest, Michael Vick is vowing to carry the Birds on his wings this year. He's not dreaming

By Don Banks

4 WASHINGTON: Redskins

In the nation's capital the hope for change now rests on the arm and legs of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III

By Matt Gagne

Scouting Reports NFC NORTH

1 CHICAGO: Bears

A new G.M. finally got this team up to speed with the rest of the league, but improvement doesn't come without a few risks

By Peter King

2 GREEN BAY: Packers

Everyone's playing catch-up with that record-setting offense—including the Pack's own younger, faster unit on the other side of the ball

By Don Banks

3 DETROIT: Lions

Who will shut down Calvin Johnson? Nobody. But who will contain the opponents' receivers? Much better question

By Peter King

4 MINNESOTA: Vikings

Christian Ponder took his lumps in 2011. That's fine, as long as he follows the typical QB trajectory, especially the part about a big Year 2 leap

By Don Banks

Scouting Reports NFC SOUTH

1 ATLANTA: Falcons

Persistent playoff failure has this talented team recharging its offense to get even more dynamic—and checking its heart

By Peter King

2 NEW ORLEANS: Saints

They're missing some key components but still have a bounty (yeah, we went there) of talent. So they'll just go out and play

By Peter King

3 CAROLINA: Panthers

Cam Newton could be even better in Year 2—a terrifying thought for the rest of the league—but it won't matter if the D can't hold a lead

By Don Banks

4 TAMPA BAY: Buccaneers

For new coach Greg Schiano, it's all about the little things—even if that meant getting bigger in certain places

By Peter King

Scouting Reports NFC WEST

1 SAN FRANCISCO: 49ers

Somebody finally caught on, and a position of weakness—where were the wide receivers in 2011?—is suddenly a strength

By Jim Trotter

2 SEATTLE: Seahawks

A physically intimidating secondary will play a primary role in determining where this franchise goes next under Pete Carroll

By Jim Trotter

3 ARIZONA: Cardinals

While the offense tries to unravel the tangled web at quarterback, the defense looks to tackle a problem of its own: mastering the 3--4

By Jim Trotter

4 ST. LOUIS: Rams

Steven Jackson leads the charge again. The difference? This time he has a coach with pedigree calling the shots

By Jim Trotter

POINT AFTER

Way Offsides, Five-Meter Penalty

By Phil Taylor

Departments

Masthead

FINISHED

Lance Armstrong's decision not to contest the doping charges leveled against him ends a career and an era

By Austin Murphy

FOR THE RECORD

HOT | NOT

The Post-Games Report

From the sublime (or at least prime time) to the ridiculous (the rid-Lochte-ous?)—from fulfilling dreams to inspiring memes—here's a look at what some 2012 Olympians have been up to since the torch was extinguished in London on Aug. 12

JUST MY TYPE

By Dan Patrick

Extreme Makeover

The Dodgers emphatically tore up their roster by raiding the listless, top-heavy Red Sox. The trick now is to avoid becoming Boston

By Joe Sheehan

THE CASE FOR ... Clay Courts at The U.S. Open

By Andrew Lawrence

FACES IN THE CROWD

Edited by Alexandra Fenwick

Racing's Short Fuse

After fireworks at Bristol, NASCAR nears its postseason with tempers on edge