It’s a good thing football is a little-known sport in Europe. Otherwise, this year’s chapter in the NFL London series would probably draw the attendance of a Division 3 high school football season opener.
Generally speaking, fans in England make their way out to Wembley Stadium when the NFL comes to town because it’s a new phenomenon. Europeans are passionate and informed about soccer but still learning about American football. That’s probably why this weekend’s contest in Great Britain is expected to sell out, despite the fact that it’s a match-up between the San Francisco 49ers (1-6) and the Denver Broncos (2-5). If you’d like to know more about either team, they’re both conveniently located in the bottom five of our Week 8 NFL power rankings.
It can’t get much worse than that. In fact — given the way both teams have played lately — this game could be the worst of the weekend. When the NFL first scheduled this game to be played in London, there’s no way they could have known the two would start out so poorly. However, if they eventually achieve their goal of globalizing American football and expanding their fan base, they’ll need to send over a better product.
For now, just having a football game in London creates enough buzz. Last year, 84,254 fans visited Wembley Stadium to watch the Patriots dominate the Bucs. This year, another 80,000 are expected in attendance to watch the bottom of the barrel in the NFL. With an increased knowledge of the NFL and the game of football, European fans will eventually figure out that the product their being sent is garbage. That will either mark the end of this experiment, or force the NFL to put more effort into scheduling the right game for this annual event.