The NFL makes it’s eagery awaited return to the UK this weekend and Wembley stadium plays host to the Tampa Bay Bucaneers who are the home team with Chicago visiting as the away side.
Both sides are coming here on the back of impressive home wins last weekend and both will certainly fancy their chances of notching up a victory in this international series game. The NFL are now committed to expanding the game abroad and already it appears that agreement has been reached to stage more than one game outside America over the next few years. Wembley is the obvious first choice for an extra game but locations such as Berlin and Dublin have also been mooted thus far. Some think we could see an NFL franchise permanently located in the UK down the line but I think we are still far away from that. The logistics don’t really add up and the issue of whether players, coaches, staff etc would permanently relocate abroad is the obvious stumbling block.
Tampa Bay surprised New Orleans last weekend but the Saints had a great chance to snatch it at the end but for a cheap interception passhrown by Drew Brees in the final play of the game when camped on the Tampa Bay line. The problem for the Bears is that they simply do not travel well and so far this season are 0-2 on the road. Tampa are a decent young side that are certainly on the upgrade but the Bears are essentially a playoff calibre team and they should have a little bit too much for the Buccs and should be helped by the fact that it is not an away game in the true sense of the word. It is a once off in a different country and the fact that their opposition don’t really have home advantage should see the Bears home in this one.
The second game on Sky this evening sees Green Bay travel to Minnesota to take on the struggling Vikings. The defending Superbowl champs are the only unbeaten side left in the league and that run is in no danger of coming to an end here. I don’t think they will go undefeated as all year but they are certainly the most impressive side so far this year and look like they are going to have a really good tilt at winning it all again. The Vikings look clueless under the leadership of McNabb and have turned to rookie QB Christian Ponder to help turn their season around. He cant do much worse than his predeccor. Ponder had a pretty impressive college career with Florida State and he is certainly the future of this franchise. Whle he may be the future Rogers and Green Bay are the present and they should win easily on the road and remain unbeaten.
The late game on Channel 4 features the brutal Colts as they head to the Superdome to take on the Saints who should be reeling after a surprise defeat away to Tampa Bay last weekend. Drew Brees is a devestating QB if given time to find his targets. New Orleans spread the ball about a lot on offense and have threats all over the pitch. I expect a big game this week from Darren Sproles and if he can worry the Colts on the ground sufficiently that should free up Brees to utilise the play action and rip the Colts apart. I expect a long night for the Colts and fancy the Saints to put 30-40 points on them and move to 5-2.