The NFL celebrates a decade of staging games in London this year by playing host to four regular season matches for the first time ever. While the majority of fans and players love the occasion, does making the trans-Atlantic trip hurt a team’s Super Bowl chances?
This Sunday’s clash between the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars will be the 17th NFL fixture to be staged across the Pond and in that time only one team has gone on to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy after returning to the US.
The very first International Series clash saw the New York Giants defeat the Miami Dolphins 13-10 in what has been dubbed the ‘Mud Bowl’ before Big Blue went on to ruin the New England Patriots’ perfect season at Super Bowl XLII.
Since then, the records of teams after they have visited Wembley have been a mixed bag. Of the 24 different teams to have come to London, 10 have gone on to make the play-offs, not a bad record given the NFL have sent some terrible teams to the UK.
The question now is whether this year’s tourists can improve upon that record. A look through the Super Bowl outright market brings us to the Minnesota Vikings, who face the Cleveland Browns at Twickenham, as the shortest priced of the teams coming to London at 25/1.
The Vikings are 1-1 after the first two weeks, an injury to quarter-back Sam Bradford proving costly against Pittsburgh last week. Question marks over Bradford’s health could be the Vikings biggest problem when it comes to making a Super Bowl run, especially after improving the offensive line and adding the explosive Dalvin Cook.
Next in the outright betting are the Baltimore Ravens, who are 28/1. Based on the opening two rounds of matches, the Ravens look like they could be a solid outside bet for the Super Bowl given their excellent defensive line and quarter-back Joe Flacco’s experience of getting the best out of a limited offence.
The Ravens, who are 10/19 to beat the Jags this weekend, are probably the last of the realistic Super Bowl contenders coming to London.
A serious injury to Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson, coupled with Carson Palmer’s issues, has probably ended their hopes, hence the 40/1 available.
So, it would appear unlikely that any of this year’s travelling NFL teams will go on to Super Bowl glory, but does that mean there is a ‘curse’? No, teams are getting better and better at making the trip and one day soon the prospective champions will warm up for glory in London.
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