Since the Supreme Court struck down the federal law prohibiting gambling on sports last year, more than half of the states have moved to legalize sports betting. In “The United Stakes,” ESPN The Magazine follows the money, policies and estimated windfalls to the border of this new frontier of legit sports gambling. “The Super Rise of the SuperContest” presents the oral history of how a little-known NFL betting competition for Las Vegas sharps became a national phenomenon for everyone else due to simple rules and a huge payoff. And for those thinking about placing a tidy sum on a sure-thing Super Bowl prop bet, senior writer Bill Barnwell’s “The Art and Agony of the Super Bowl Prop Bet” hopes to save readers on game day with this advice: Don’t do it!
Additionally, The Mag previews the upcoming Super Bowl matchup between Sean McVay’s fresh-faced Rams and Bill Belichick’s stalwart Patriots as they get ready to head to Atlanta. In the feature “Take It to the Bank,” ESPN’s top minds and best predictive metric (Football Power Index) are here to forecast the big picture and the minutiae of the craziest day on the sports betting calendar. Senior writer Kevin Van Valkenburg examines “The Inevitability of Tom Brady” as the Patriots head to the big game for the fourth time in five years. In “Back in the Game,” senior writer Tim Keown shows why the only person not surprised by C.J. Anderson helping lead the Rams to the Super Bowl is C.J. Anderson.
Also in “Place Your Bets”:
Some sons bond with their dads over football games. Senior writer Tom Junod bonded with his over betting them.
The More Things Change in Cleveland
The Browns have a new coach and a franchise QB. But under owner Jimmy Haslam, they have been repeatedly sabotaged by infighting and ineptitude. So what will win out: hope or history? By Seth Wickersham
Welcome to Satan’s Backyard
In this photo essay, we reveal how a fight club in Virginia became a destination for those looking to settle feuds, seek thrills and blow off steam. Story and reporting by Nancy Andrews, photographs by Brian Finke
Year of the Reaper
Lesnar! Khabib! Conor! It’s gonna be a wild year for the UFC, starting with a stacked middleweight card at UFC 234, where champ Robert “The Reaper” Whittaker defends his belt. Can he do it? Yes … and here’s how we see the rest of the 185-pound year playing out. By Brett Okamoto
SCOUTTAKE – Who Will Go to Jarrett?
Will talented Auburn QB Jarrett Stidham break out in the NFL? Or will Gus Malzahn’s tutelage prove stifling? So many questions! A scout offers his (very early) take, and ESPN’s Todd McShay renders his (very early) opinion.
A Very, Very Tall Tale
Boban Marjanovic is 7-foot-3 and—no joke!—the most efficient scorer in NBA history. He’s also a career backup. Does that bother him? Less than you’d think. By Devin Gordon
We were promised flying cars! Guess we’ll settle for self-lacing kicks. Though the way Jayson Tatum sees it, we’ll be levitating in no time. By Nick DePaula
Let’s Not Show the Shark
Director Steven Soderbergh’s first move in making the fictional NBA movie “High Flying Bird?” Ditching the ball. In this interview, the director reveals why he took on the league’s complexities in a flick that’s more “Ocean’s Eleven” than “Hoosiers.” By Devin Gordon
Senior writer Peter Keating explains why it isn’t Buffalo’s lightning offense but its slow-burn defense that is its biggest asset—and a trait to watch for in fellow Cinderellas this March.
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