Bills, Jaguars Set for Battle in London

By Garrett Gangarossa

Since the 2007 season, the NFL has hosted regular season football games in London, England. Many NFL fans are reluctant to support the playing of games across the ocean. Those opposed to hosting games in other countries, including myself, typically feel as though it robs the home team of a true home game. This Sunday, the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars will battle in London. Due to the NFL’s scheduling of the game, the Jaguars only have seven true home games, not eight. Although it may seem miniscule, home field advantage in the NFL is essential in the outcome of the game. The atmosphere in Jacksonville would without a doubt, be more in favor of the Jaguars if the game was scheduled in Florida.

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In London, the game consists mostly of general sports fans that do not have any emotional connection to either team. With close observation of the fans in the stands, one will find fans wearing Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Cam Newton jerseys to a Bills and Jaguars game. This demonstrates the lack of connectivity between the London fans and a particular franchise. Obviously, the sports fans of London do not have a permanent team and therefore, do not emotionally connect with a given team. However, London will never be an ideal city for an NFL franchise strictly because American football is not nearly as popular as soccer in Europe. By scheduling these games, the NFL is experimenting with the possible relocation of a franchise, and also expanding the brand. In my opinion, an NFL team in London would not generate as much connection and affection between the fans and the team as would another city in the United States.

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As for the game, the Bills and Jaguars will play at 9:30 A.M. EST and will be streamed live on Yahoo for the first time ever. Due to its inconvenient start time, the Jaguars and Bills will most likely be one of the least watched games this weekend. Buffalo is banged up with injuries as both Sammy Watkins and Tyrod Taylor are sitting this one out. With EJ Manuel under center and the Bills missing their two best receivers, the degree to which the offense will perform is unknown. Defensive struggles have crushed the Bills hopes of competing with New England through the first six games and Jacksonville demonstrated team struggles in their loss last week to Houston. Despite Buffalo’s injuries, look for the Bills to steal a win over the pond against a weak Jaguars squad.

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