NFL Week 8 Free Picks

Bills vs. Saints, 1:00PM ET
Even with Jimmy Graham likely to miss the game with a foot injury, the Saints offense should score plenty against a Buffalo defense that allows 25.4 points per game. Conversely, the Bills haven’t had issues reaching pay dirt themselves, as they’re the only team in the NFL that has scored at least 20 points per contest. The over is 5-1 in Buffalo’s last six games overall and 6-0 in New Orleans’ last six games following a bye week.
FREE PICK: Over 48

49ers vs. Jaguars, 1:00PM ET
The Jaguars have been a disaster this season and the Niners are rounding into the same form that made them NFC title champs a season ago. That said, San Francisco hasn’t been home in two weeks after its players traveled to Tennessee last Sunday and then hopped a flight directly after that to head to London for today’s game. With all of that traveling, plus an inflated spread due to Jacksonville’s overall ineffectiveness, the Jags should cover today over seas. The Niners are 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games versus a team with a losing record and are due to have a letdown.
FREE PICK: Jaguars +17

Redskins vs. Broncos, 4:25PM ET
The over has cashed every week in Denver games and there’s no reason to believe the combined score won’t sail over again with Washington in town today. Over the past three weeks RGIII has looked more like the dynamic player he was a year ago as he’s beginning to have more success as a runner. He’s still highly inaccurate but the Redskins racked up 45 points last Sunday on the Bears and should have success today versus a Broncos defense that has struggled. The over is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these two teams and while the total is set high for this contest, both teams should reach the 30s.
FREE PICK: Over 57.5

Falcons vs. Cardinals, 4:25PM ET
Atlanta is highly banged up but will get running back Steven Jackson back this week after he missed over a month with a hamstring injury. The Falcons proved a week ago versus Tampa Bay that they can still move the ball effectively thanks to Matt Ryan’s ability to find weaknesses in the defense and get the ball out of his hand quickly. On the flip side, Bruce Arians is having a difficult time with his offense. The line has had massive issues protecting quarterback Carson Palmer, who is turning the ball over on a game-by-game basis. Atlanta’s pass rush has been non-exsistent this year but it should drum up enough pressure to keep Arizona’s offense at bay for another week. The Cardinals are just 2-10-1 against the spread in their last 13 games in October while the Falcons are 5-1 ATS in their last six games in Week 8.
FREE PICK: Falcons +1

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The Super Bowl in London?

Ross Tucker at Sports Illustrated has a new column up about the rumors going around about a London Super Bowl in the near future. He writes:

For the loyal hometown fans, a regular season game is one of the eight glorious days that they look forward to and pay good money for every year. The Super Bowl, on the other hand, is already an outrageously expensive neutral site game. It is pretty much mainly high rollers paying top dollar for the tickets at this point anyway. How many true fans of the teams playing in the game really go to the Super Bowl? The vast majority watch it on TV and wouldn’t be affected at all by a move abroad, assuming issues like weather, field conditions and kickoff time can be worked out.

I suppose it makes a lot of sense to try and create a more international market for the sport of American football. Mr. Tucker writes elsewhere in his article that basketball and baseball have had “exponential” increases in popularity overseas, and of course the NFL would want to cash in too. A few regular season games have already been held across the pond and the attendance has been pretty high, more than 83,000 for the Saints/Chargers game last year at Wembley Stadium, but the Super Bowl is another beast entirely.

Having the Super Bowl in London give a lot of people a knee-jerk “the NFL is screwing me again!” reaction, but the truth is that this is capitalism straight up. Just because the NFL is on top in terms of popularity in America, that popularity does not extend to other countries in the least. In fact the London games thus far have seemed more like freak shows for people interested in seeing giant Yanks smashing each other for a few hours rather than opening people up to a new and intricate sport.

Speaking from personal experience as an English teacher in Los Angeles, even those people living a few miles from any given USC game or a remote click’s distance from watching the sport have no interest in it. The reasons I’ve been given from my mainly Korean students (with some Japanese, Russians, Chinese, and Bulgarians as well) is that American football is not a sport that can be picked up from simple observation. The penalties can be very frustrating for them and the point values really throw people off too.

I’m not saying it’d be impossible for them to learn the rules (I’ve taught classes proving the exact opposite), but it does show the inability to learn the game passively, or casually. Especially for people whose grasp of the English language is tenuous at best, the rules and intricacies of football seem nonexistent or indecipherable. It’d take one heck of a push by the NFL to break through that barrier. But if any league can become insinuated into a culture, I think the NFL can.

In fact, they may want to start with video games (that’s how I learned hockey). It’s easy to figure out a sport when you can repeat a specific action as many times as you want. Considering the popularity of gaming systems in Europe, it’d be an obvious step to get the next Madden game out there as prominently as possible. Just an idea…

London could have its own NFL team in “10 to 12 years”

Commissioner Roger Goodell is suggesting that London could have its own NFL team in the next decade or so.

London is expected to have its own NFL team within the next 10 to 12 years, according to a senior league official.

NFL boss Roger Goodell suggested the possibility of a team during the annual game at Wembley last October.

And Mark Waller, NFL head of sales and marketing, said: “The commissioner and I have talked about 10 years so that’s mentally how we’re framing it.

“Would we be hugely disappointed if it’s not 10 and it’s 12? No, but that’s the goal,” he told BBC 5 Live.

“We plan rigorously. There is a view for the future. We’ve taken a west coast team [to London] this year in San Diego and we’ve proved the logistics of that work,” he explained.

“This year we’re going to have games going on in London and Toronto at the same time so we definitely have a way forward.”

Come on, seriously? I think it’s great that NFL is reaching out to other countries and having one game played overseas is fine. But giving London their own team? Then what, eight teams will have to travel to London every year as part of their road games? And the London Fill in Team Name Here will have to travel to the States for eight games?

I don’t like it. There are more than enough teams in the league now – stop expanding.

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