There’s no place like home across the pond. The Raiders checked into their hotel Friday afternoon. It’s only a few steps from Wembley Stadium, where they will play Seattle on Sunday night local time. The team could walk to the game, but the Raiders are going to ride buses, because they’re flying right back to Oakland afterward, and for good reason. If the head winds are as strong as the tail winds were Thursday night, the flight will last 11 hours.
No time for sightseeing, but that didn’t stop your intrepid reporter from strolling around the stadium that Jaguar owner Shad Khan hopes to buy so that he can play half of his team’s eight home games here in Europe. That, of course, depends on Khan getting a sweet deal to buy the stadium – and then winning a favorable tax agreement with the English authorities.
Those same authorities have had the door wide open for bettors. Sports gambling is and has been legal in England for decades, and it’s everywhere. There’s even a bet shop inside Wembley that will be closed during NFL games as a concession to the league.
But within a mile radius of the stadium there are the bet shops of William Hill, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power. All three book the NFL. Surprisingly, William Hill also books college football, which does not have much of a following over here. That shop had something that is not legal in Nevada. You walk up to a kiosk, study the menu, put your pounds in the machine, and out pops a ticket.
For Sunday’s game, money-line betting is a more preferred way to bet here in England, so that is always listed first. The Seahawks are a 5-7 favorite, and the Raiders weigh in at 6-5. That’s a 20-cent straddle.
If you want the good old-fashioned point spread, it breaks down to the Seahawks –2½, about the same as it has been back in Las Vegas. The over-under here on Sunday’s game is 48 points – 10-11 both ways. There are also various props on the game. The Raiders are 2-1 to score the game’s first touchdown; the Seahawks 13-8. The Raiders’ team total is 23½ compared with the Seahawks 26½.
The nice lady behind the counter at William Hill said that 95 percent of the betting on the NFL in England takes place Sunday morning. I passed, because I’m leaving too early Monday to cash my tickets.
I won’t be back home nearly in time to watch Sunday night’s game back there, but I’m putting my four-star rating on the Patriots –3½ against Kansas City. Keep in mind that this could determine home field in a possible rematch for the AFC Championship. Patrick Mahomes appears to be the real deal. But remember, the Jaguars defense intercepted him twice and didn’t allow him to throw a touchdown pass.
This is a game where you have to respect coach Bill Belichick. He is 3-0 ATS at home this season and 11-3 vs. the number the last 14 at Foxboro. This should blossom into a great fans’ game with a lot of scoring. If you bet it to go over 59½, you can sit back, relax and be a fan watching the points pile up. Kansas City is averaging 35 and allowing nearly 26. The Patriots are scoring almost 27 and allowing close to 22. That’s a tough number to go over, but these are two terrific offenses.
I’ll be glad to stick around here Sunday night to enjoy the late games on pub TV, but I admit that a 1:20 a.m. kickoff for the Patriots and Chiefs will be bit of a challenge.