Broncos and 49ers could make costly haul for latest European Experiment

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The NFL has chosen Halloween 2010 as their next shot at increasing  football’s popularity worldwide.

London’s Wembley Stadium will play host to the San Fransisco 49ers and Denver Broncos. Wembley Stadium is the same location of the last three consecutive European NFL adventures and aims to seat over 80,000 for the affair.

It should be interesting to see how the London game effects both players and personnel as 2010 features the first ‘London-Bowl’ with two western-situated teams. Last year’s game featured New England and Tampa BaySan Diego and New Orleans took the European stage in 2008, and the New York Giants faced Miami in the first edition of the globalization effort.

Noteworthy of these teams are the Chargers of 2008.

Located much further west than any other London visiting team, the Chargers had to tackle a nightmarish travel schedule before any of the real tackling could be done on Wimbley Field.  Although the 2008 Chargers flew across the pond after a road loss in Buffalo, and received a bye directly after returning, their record suggests lasting effects from travel.

After a high scoring, 37-32 London loss, San Deigo returned to a bye and a lay-up against the Kansas City Chiefs. Although the Chiefs finished 2-14 in 2008, the Chargers struggled, just squeaking out a 20 to 19 victory at home.

Then the realest evidence of lingering European after-effects became visible.

The Chargers peeled off  three straight losses to PittsburghIndianapolis and Atlanta.  Interestingly, all three of these losses were by 6 points or less. San Diego went on to finish at a mediocre 8-8 and was eliminated by Pittsburgh in the divisional playoff round.

Looking back, it is worthwhile to question exactly how much of an impact the NFL’s European marketing ploy had on the Charger’s season. The near loss to pushover Kansas City and three following close losses in sucession may have been avoidable were the team given a chance to rest on their bye-week rather than recovering from the excessive travel.

Denver and San Francisco should serve as measuring sticks for the impact of the London game on western-based teams. Having missed the playoffs this season, both teams can ill afford  the  4-5 week hangover effect witnessed in the 2008 Chargers.

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