HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Good news, Panthers: That loss may sting for a bit, but when the confetti was cleaned up on Sunday night, you were back on equal footing with the Broncos—and the other 30 teams plotting assaults on the next Lombardi Trophy. If the calendar year begins on Jan. 1, the sports year starts now. Spring training is days away. Future college football stars are choosing campuses. March Madness (and a storm of three-point shots) is brewing, and it's time to appreciate a low-key NBA star heading toward his last rodeo. But first: Let's size up the race for Super Bowl LI ...
NFL: OFF-SEASON PREVIEW 42
MLB: PRESEASON POWER RANKINGS 56
SOCCER: FIFA ELECTION 66
COLLEGE HOOPS: THREE FOR ALL 70
NBA: DIRK'S LAST DAYS 76
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SIGNING DAY 86
NASCAR: BUSCH MIGHT 92
(AND DON'T FORGET SI SWIMSUIT: FEB. 15!)