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Photo: Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The perfect coda for 2020: The most expensive stadium ever built could conclude its first NFL season without hosting a single fan.

Why it matters: SoFi Stadium in L.A. was supposed to be a Mecca for fans. Instead, it's the most beautiful $5 billion placeholder money can buy.

The big picture: This season was set up to be one of the league's biggest, with a glut of marketable stars, two new stadiums (L.A.; Vegas) that put the term "state-of-the-art" to shame and a 2019 ratings spike that portended good things to come. Then, the coronavirus hit.

  • While the pandemic — or the fact that stadiums are still mostly empty — is certainly not the league's fault, its bungled response along the way has only highlighted the contrast between those sky-high expectations and the reality of this season unlike any other.
  • And tonight's game, a Super Bowl LIII rematch between the rallying Patriots and first-place Rams that doubles as SoFi's final primetime game of the year, serves as yet another stark reminder of just how good we could have had it if things had broken right.

Yes, but: For all the challenges and missteps along the way, here we are just four weeks shy of the playoffs with 32 teams who've completed their full slate of games.

The bottom line: You may not be able to visit this breathtaking stadium in person yet, but that video board still looks pretty incredible on TV (8:20pm ET, Fox).

Go deeper: The end of COVID’s grip on sports may be in sight

Go deeper

Updated 21 hours ago - Sports

2 tennis players test positive for coronavirus ahead of Australian Open

A tennis player (C) leaves hotel quarantine for a training session in Melbourne on Tuesday. The players to test positive for COVID-19 have not been publicly identified. Photo: William West/AFP via Getty Images

Two tennis players are among seven people involved in the Australian Open to test positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Melbourne, health authorities in the state of Victoria said Tuesday.

Why it matters: Some tennis stars including men's world No. 1 Novak Djokovic had sent a letter demanding Victorian authorities ease strict coronavirus quarantine rules for players ahead of the season-opening tennis major's start on Feb. 8.

Biden will reverse Trump's attempt to lift COVID-related travel restrictions

Photo: Tasos Katopodis via Getty

The incoming Biden administration will reverse President Trump's last-minute order to lift COVID-19 related travel restrictions, Jen Psaki, the incoming White House press secretary, tweeted.

Why it matters: President Trump ordered entry bans lifted for travelers from the U.K., Ireland, Brazil and much of Europe to go into effect Jan. 26, but the Biden administration will "strengthen public health measures around international travel in order to further mitigate the spread of COVID-19," Jen Psaki said. Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday, Jan. 20 and Trump will no longer be president by the time the order is set to go into effect.

Jan 19, 2021 - Health

WHO warns of "catastrophic moral failure" over coronavirus vaccine access

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned Monday the world is "on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure" because of unequal COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Why it matters: Tedros noted during an executive session that 39 million vaccine doses had been administered in 49 higher-income countries, while one lowest-income nation had "just 25 doses."