FEATURES

WORLD SERIES
38 Deal with It
After a lackluster regular season, the Cardinals dominated defenseless Detroit and silenced their doubters for good
by Tom Verducci

PRO BASKETBALL
1917--2006
44 Red Auerbach
Assessing the monumental legacy of the Celtics coach
by Frank Deford

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
48 The Road to a Title
USC's loss blew the championship door wide-open. Here's SI's playoff map
by Austin Murphy

PRO FOOTBALL
52 So Many Riches
Peyton Manning chose wisely from his plethora of weapons to pick apart Denver
by Michael Silver

SELF-PORTRAIT
56 Michael Strahan
The Giants' defensive end talks about the gap in his teeth and the meaning of BOB in the first in a series of player profiles

BONUS

David Stern
The NBA commissioner cajoled, teased, lectured and charmed during an eight-game, seven-day tour of Europe
by Jack McCallum
PAGE 58

Departments

6 Leading Off

12 Letters

15 Air and Space
Scanning the wide, wide words of sports
by Steve Rushin

16 Scorecard
The Browns: worst team, best fans
Sasha Cohen vs. Sacha Cohen
Goodbye to Joe Niekro

27 Faces in the Crowd

28 Players

78 Life of Reilly
Pray not for Big Ben—if you want to give the devil his due
by Rick Reilly

Inside...

70 College Football
Bonded, Texas A&M bounces back
End of a losing era at Temple

72 The NFL
Kansas City's bang-up backup
Change is good for the Ravens

76 The NHL
The Sabres' streaking start

Cover
PHOTOGRAPH BY AL TIELEMANS
INSET PHOTO: George Kalinsky

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> > NBA
LeBron James (right) has turned the Cavaliers into a playoff team. But when will he turn them into champs? SI.com explores the future in a special King James package at SI.com/nba that includes a LeBron--Michael Jordan comparison.

> > COLLEGE FOOTBALL
As running back Mike Hart (left) and No. 2 Michigan try to stay unbeaten for a Nov. 18 showdown against top-ranked Ohio State, SI.com's Stewart Mandel gets in on the action by revealing which one he thinks will advance to the national title game, and he predicts the 31 other bowl matchups as well. Check out his updated projections every week at SI.com/collegefootball.

> > HORSE RACING
Will Preakness winner Bernardini claim the final prize of the season? Follow the Breeders' Cup with reports from Tim Layden at SI.com/more.

> > NFL
See how grizzled NFL expert Dr. Z (right) holds up when making picks against swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker every week at SI.com/nfl.

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PHOTOPETER READ MILLER (MANNING)52 FRISKY COLT Peyton Manning was on top of his game on Sunday, when he completed 32 of 39 passes for 345 yards to dismantle Denver. PHOTOHEINZ KLUETMEIER (CARDS) PHOTONATHANIEL S. BUTLER/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (STERN) PHOTOBILL WIPPERT (VANEK)76 RAPID RISE Left winger Thomas Vanek (26) and the rest of the Sabres got off to a record-tying start by playing a new, high-speed style. PHOTOWALTER IOOSS JR. (JAMES) PHOTOJOHN BIEVER (HART) PHOTOMEL LEVINE (DR. Z)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)