NEW YORK — (Wednesday, August 17, 2021) We rarely see a Super Bowl runner-up return to the NFL’s biggest stage (nearly one-third of them haven’t reached the postseason the following year)—but those teams didn’t have Joe Burrow. There’s a new weight on expectations on Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals; in The New Normal, Conor Orr profiles the NFL’s newest superstar and his constant crusade just to be himself even as everything has changed around him. Georgia’s Stetson Bennett, who is featured on a special flip cover for Sports Illustrated’s college football preview, spoke with Pat Forde about his dream offseason—and returning to his dream role—after winning the 2021 College Football National Championship with the Bulldogs. The NFL and College Football Preview Issue is on sale tomorrow on newsstands and at SI.com/issues, with more features below.
On the Cover
A surprising Super Bowl run last year made Joe Burrow the face of the Bengals and arguably the entire NFL. Now the league is expecting big things from him and his resurgent franchise—and Burrow is uniquely equipped to handle that pressure, according to Conor Orr. In college football, Georgia’s Stetson Bennett faces a different kind of pressure: living up to the national championship standard he delivered in January. Here’s why he came back for more.
NFL Preview Issue Features
- Welcome to ‘22: Everything you need to know about the season ahead, including:
- 12 teams who could actually win the Super Bowl
- Conor Orr’s top ten must-watch games this season
- Key changes: The reduced importance of the overtime coin toss, the NFL allowing alternate helmet designs, broadcaster shuffles, and more
- A way-too-early look at the top ten 2021 NFL draft prospects
- SI’s picks for top offensive and defensive players of the year, the rookies, coaches, and comeback player of the year
- Offseason broadcaster changes and the NFL personalities we want to see in the booth someday
- Scouting Reports: Sports Illustrated’s predictions for how every team will finish, plus the playoff bracket. SI’s Super Bowl prediction: Bills over Buccaneers – it will be a table-breaking good time! SI Fantasy expert Michael Fabiano projects his Top 25 NFL fantasy players this season, including how key stat leaders look by the odds at SI Sportsbook.
- Receiver Economics: The wideout market went bonkers this offseason. Teams dropped loads of draft picks to acquire elite pass catchers and rushed to give them huge contracts. What sparked the frenzy, and what are the roster ripple effects? By Conor Orr.
- The Not Always Great Debate: Tua Tagovailoa is soft-spoken, bordering on bland, and has shown flashes of becoming the franchise quarterback the Miami Dolphins need. But somehow this typical young and talented QB has become the NFL’s most polarizing player, thanks to sky-high expectations and an often ugly debate about him on social media, according to Alex Prewitt.
College Football Preview Issue Features
- The Top 25: SI’s preseason ranking of the country’s best – and most interesting – teams with in-depth looks at key stars and trends for the season ahead, including:
- No. 1 Alabama: Nick Saban's Next Act, by Richard Johnson
- No. 3 Georgia: Why Stetson Bennett is Back, by Pat Forde
- No. 8 Texas A&M: Jimbo Fisher and the Art of Team Building in the NIL Era, by Ross Dellenger
- No. 10 USC: The Path Back to Glory, by Pat Forde
- No. 15 Miami: Mario Cristobal Returns Home, by Ross Dellenger
- No. 22 Kentucky: The Next Draft's Top QB, by Richard Johnson
- All Aboard?: Pat Forde on the evolution of traditional conferences and rivalries upended. Once upon a time, college football was the most stable of sports, steeped in traditional rivalries structures. Now it’s at a tipping point, as the rush for realignment – and huge revenue – threatens to make the college football landscape unrecognizable.
DKC for Sports Illustrated SI@dkcnews.com
Rachael Fink Manager, Public Relations The Arena Group Rachael.Fink@thearenagroup.net