On the heels of a sports year that was chock full of surprises, Guardian US contributors make their bold predictions for the months to come
Here are our bold predictions for 2017. Please note the bold (or should that be bold?) in bold predictions these are to be taken with a pinch of salt. Especially the Tebow one.
Kobe Bryant will return from retirement
Few athletes are as prepared for a life after basketball than Kobe, a man of diverse interests and immense worldwide fame. Few athletes also are as ill-suited for retirement than Kobe, who burns to be on the court. These last few months away have to be killing him. He will mount a comeback, though probably not with the Lakers, who are building around a gifted young core of players. Hes always wanted to play for the Knicks. Would Phil Jackson dare drop him on the same floor as Carmelo Anthony? LC
Tiger Woods will win again
The notion that Woods could challenge for, let alone win, major championships was flawed even before his last and lengthy absence through injury. The depth of talent at golfs summit means Woods will always be overawed and outplayed in such environments now.
Still, he can and will win lower grade PGA Tour events. Woods has a propensity to prevail on the same courses, as shown by his record. He retains more competitive ability than some of those who win once or twice on Tour in any given year. If fitness troubles really are behind Woods, he will return to the podium. Then? Cue more major discussion. EM
An American not named Serena will win a grand slam title
Serena Williams did win Wimbledon six months ago, so lets not put her in the ground just yet. But shes now closer to 40 than 30 and theres no question her stranglehold on the womens tour was weakened during a year that saw the late-blooming Angelique Kerber win a pair of major titles to inherit the world No1 ranking on merit. The door has never been more open for the sports 90s babies. Garbie Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova took advantage in 2016; Madison Keys will follow this year. The 21-year-old from Illinois, who has played into the second week at the last six majors, has all the shots, and power on both wings. Look for her to put it all together and become the first American woman not named Williams to capture a major singles title since Jennifer Capriati in 2002. BAG
A wildcard team will win Super Bowl LI
The NFL playoffs do not favor wildcard teams. To win the Super Bowl as a wildcard you have to win on the road three straight weeks and beat three of the leagues top teams. That said, it has happened six times before. Three of the last 11 Super Bowl champions came into the postseason as wildcards and 2017s will as well. With no great, dominant team, the path is wide open. The Lions stumbled late in the season but still have a potent offense and the Patriots would rather forget their Super Bowls against the Giants and Eli Manning. LC