Home Sweet Home for Dolphins?

London fan advantage – TGI searched far and wide to find out exactly what the Giants, their fans, and TGI as well, will be getting into next weekend in London. Exactly why was this locale picked for this game? And there had to be a reason the Giants and Dolphins were selected, right?

Well, according to an NFL source, the league plans to have at least four overseas games during the next five seasons. The destinations for the NFL's global traveling show were London, Germany, Canada and Mexico. So for those wishing this upcoming game was going to be held in Rome or Paris, wish no more. Those beautiful cities were never even considered, at least for right now. Hopefully by the time the Giants are next up to travel overseas for a regular-season game, say in about 16 years or so, Rome will be ready to host them.

Anyway, as much as one figures you'd need a New York presence in this type of international event, the league had to have done some homework regarding which teams to send to London and which clubs would draw the most interest – not only in London, but also around the world. It was also confirmed by the NFL that the league clearly saw the Giants and Dolphins were both very popular in London. But, according to TGI subscriber Steve Pikett, it may not necessarily be in that order.

Pikett has lived in London for years and we sought out his help in figuring out what level of fan base resided in London, and in which direction did the majority root. American football still trails soccer, rugby, cricket and possibly even basketball on the radar of English sports fans. But the NFL is certainly growing in popularity as the league continues to market its product everywhere the sun touches down – and London as well.

As for NFL team loyalties, Pikett stated that the NFL fans in London fit into two distinct groups: those that began following the league in the 1980s and those that caught the bug in the ‘90s.

The ‘80s group follows mostly the Raiders, 49ers and the Dolphins. The fact that many Brits vacation in Florida and Miami – not to mention the excitement created by Dan Marino throwing TD pass after TD pass during the whole decade – led to many London locals to choose Miami as their favorite club.

The ‘90s crew is more interested in the likes of the Giants and Cowboys. The Boys benefited from their moniker as America's Team, while Big Blue gained in popularity due to their New York affiliation. According to Pikett, most Brits associate New York with America.

And, of course, many youngsters these days have taken up rooting for the Patriots. New England is about as easy a team to root for as you'll ever find, regardless of which continent you call home.

As for Sunday, Pikett predicts the team-related fans will favor Miami over the Giants by a 2-to-1 margin. That, of course, excludes all the NFL big shots and local fans just there for the event with no legitimate rooting interest.

Headed to Hawaii – It's never too early to start thinking about who's headed to the Pro Bowl. Actually to be honest any time before the midseason point is too early, but we're close enough that we thought we could get away with it. You can expect two new Giants, if not three, to be playing the week after the Super Bowl. With the way he's playing, Plaxico Burress is a lock to earn the honor, especially if he continues to catch touchdown passes by the minute. If Plax continues to dominate like he has, and Eli Manning can cut down on some of the foolish INTs, Manning very well could make the trip as well. You have to figure Brett Favre and Tony Romo are locks, but there's room for a third, and who better than Eli? Jeremy Shockey, who has improved his blocking by leaps and bounds, is also a lead-pipe cinch to go. Also, while the entire offensive line has been impressive, no one has been more so than Chris Snee. Chosen as an alternate last season, Snee is definitely having a Pro Bowl campaign so far and hopefully enough people will notice.

On defense, leading the conference in sacks, as he is right now, would be a good way for Osi Umenyiora to ensure his second trip to Hawaii. Besides that, Antonio Pierce will be strongly considered, especially considering he went last year. Jeff Feagles, as always, is having that type of season, but for some reason he gets overlooked year after year. And you can bet your bottom dollar that Aaron Ross will be on every All-Rookie team out there. But that might be it.

Heck, for a team that started 0-2 and was heading nowhere, sending upwards of five or six guys to Hawaii would be quite an accomplishment.

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