LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 23: A general view of play during the NFL International Series match between Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Wembley Stadium on October 23, 2011 in London, England. This is the fifth occasion where a regular season NFL match has been played in London. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
Yesterday, our very own
tyrant fearless leader had an interesting piece up about the possible ramifications of travel on winning and losing. David examined an interesting article over at Grantland by Bill Barnwell. It's totally worth a look if you have a chance. As is David's piece, which ponders the possible ramifications of travel for the 49ers this upcoming season.
One of the more interesting comments on that article, however, came from marinfrs, who wrote: "London Team. Can you imagine the travel miles this franchise will rack up if the NFL actually puts a team there? A west coast swing will kill them."
This is an excellent question and might be the very contention that could kill an expansion across the pond. But I want to beg a different question. I'm curious if a London-based team would even be allowed to play teams on the West Coast.
This seems sort of silly, I know. But wouldn't it be easier just to have a rule that certain teams cannot play each other in the regular season based upon distance? I'm not sure I have an answer to that. I think it would be really tough not to have certain teams play, though. The beauty of the NFL schedule is how it so smoothly rotates between teams.
So, how do you solve the distance problem so that West Coast teams can play in London? I have two ideas that I think might work. Let's say the 49ers are playing Division X, which includes a team in London and a team on the East Coast. The other two teams in Division X not mentioned above would play the 49ers in San Francisco, like normal. When the 49ers play at the East Coast team, right after the game, they jump on a plane for London. This should reduce the travel burdens significantly.
Another option would be to have the two teams meet in the middle, "borrowing" another teams stadium, with one team arbitrarily the home team and the other away. This has some obvious flaws. I mean, no home team wants to give away their actual home field advantage.
Clearly these aren't the only two options. I imagine what might happen is the NFL will just get real creative with bye weeks. But, that poses a problem for the London based team, as I am sure they don't want to play a team that just had its bye week for every home game. That gives their opponents two weeks of preparation, like, all the time.
Regardless, something would need to happen to justify having a London-based team play on the West Coast, or vice versa. Otherwise, I bet there would be some serious backlash against the whole deal.