The NFL moves to England this next Sunday as the New England Patriots take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium in London, England at 1 pm ET.
NFL Football Week 7 Odds:
New England Patriots -14.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +14.5
Since the 2005 when the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers played in Mexico City the first regular season NFL game outside the US, the league has at least one international game very year.
This will be the 3rd straight game at Wembley Stadium as the Giants defeated the Dolphins 13-10 in 2007 and the New Orleans Saints 37-32 win over the San Diego Chargers in 2008.
Wembley's 86,000 seating capacity makes it the second largest stadium in Europe (after Camp Nou in Barcelona Spain) and the largest in the world with every seat under cover.
But the major concern has been the quality of the grass. The England Football Association admitted after the FA Cup semi-finals in 2009 that improvements are needed to the Wembley pitch after criticism from Manchester United coach Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger.
The grass has been re-installed five times since the stadium re-opened in 2007. In fact after the first NFL game at Wembley, Dolphins and Giants players criticized the grass for being awful in some moments, especially the kickers.
On top of the field conditions, the London weather can be quite unpredictable with rain clouds rolling in within hours.
These conditions will affect the Tampa Bay Buccaneers more than the New England Patriots as the Bucs play in Florida which is a humid and fairly dry weather whereas the Pats are play in Boston where the weather conditions are more closer to those in London.
The sold out crowd in Wembley won’t have a hometown favorite but with regularly televised NFL Games in England they will get into the game quickly.
“Over the past two years, we have seen first-hand the excitement that exists for our sport in the UK,” said Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner. “The games have helped us to deepen our connection with our UK fans as well as create new ones. We are looking forward to another outstanding game in 2009.”
All you NFL betting fans keep in mind is too early to set a strong stat to bet on international games but inter-conference games played in London have been won by NFC teams.