Kindergarten second day; there are four time zones in the mainland of the United States which means there is a three hour time difference between New York and San Francisco. When the National Football League was founded 100 years ago, teams like the Chicago Cardinals and Decatur Staleys constituted the competition, and home stadiums were located in two time zones. When West Coast teams were added 30 years later, the gap in timing grew to three hours.
We were pretty much satisfied with that arrangement for nearly 60 years, that is games starting in New York at 1 p.m. hitting the airways at 10:00 a.m. in San Francisco. Then the NFL braintrust decided expanding the league to foreign markets was a good thing, and in 2007, after a few years of experiments with preseason games played across the pond and one in Mexico City in 2005, the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals met in a regular season game at London’s Wembley Stadium.
In recent seasons, the number of regular season games played outside the continental United States has grown. This season there are five scheduled. On Sunday, the fourth and final game of the season in London will be played when the Jacksonville Jaguars meet the Houston Texans. In case you haven’t noticed, no NFL team has played more games in London than the Jaguars, and the reason for this is that if the league actually expands to include a team calling London home, Jacksonville is a likely candidate to fill that role.
First of all, I think playing in London is stupid. If you think it is fine for a West Coast team to travel to an away game nearly 7,000 miles away, I suggest you are not one of the people that has to make that flight in the midst of trying to win a playoff spot. But, the league did one thing even dumber by my standards, instead of starting all the games at 6 p.m. in London, which is 1 p.m. in New York and 10 a.m. in San Francisco, for the past few seasons they have tried to spike the overseas market by starting some of the overseas games at 2:30 p.m. local time. Not too bad for the east coast, which then has a kickoff at 9:30 a.m., but ridiculous for those of us on the west coast when the game begins at 6:30 a.m.
How many fans in Hawaii do you think are going to get up at three in the morning to watch NFL football?
There is another problem with the early starts. The wagering capital of the world, Las Vegas, is in the Pacific time zone. Do they want the casino sportsbooks to open at what, 5:00 a.m. or so, to accommodate bettors looking to get down on the early games?
The sportsbooks aren’t doing it.
You want to bet on the early game, almost all of the sportsbooks in Nevada require that wager be made before the close on Saturday night. Want to know the least bet game of the weekend … the one that starts at 6:30 a.m.
I have no doubt that the thinking of the NFL executives that have pushed this plan have their reasons, I’m just saying they are no better than other ideas that were agreed upon in April at league meetings in Palm Springs and scraped as soon as they were tested in real life games.
Now, here is the biggest problem for me, what if a game that kicks off at 6:30 a.m. locally is a real good pick? When do I give that selection to my clients?
Did they consider this before creating this scheduling mess?
I think not.
So, I have to tell you now, and confirm it on Saturday night, that there appears to be a viable side on the game played in London this week. The Jaguars are in a great spot to down the Texans … and they are getting points on the spread.
Sounds good, just wish it didn’t have to be delivered like a fifth wheel.
Qoxhi Picks: Jacksonville Jaguars (+1½) over Houston Texans