From 1950 to 1996, the Cleveland Browns were a prominent franchise in the NFL. Then, in a move that shocked many and broke the hearts of Browns fans everywhere, they picked up and moved to Baltimore. In what was probably the most predictable expansion decision ever, the NFL righted that ugly incident by awarding Cleveland a brand new franchise only three years later.
Sportsbook has set odds allowing bettors the opportunity to wager on the next city that will be awarded an NFL expansion team. It is interesting to note that the top two betting favorites are both located outside of the United States.
Is the NFL ready for global expansion?
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What Will Be The Next City For An NFL Expansion Team?
|Salt Lake City||+2000|
NFL Expansion History
The league last awarded a new franchise in 2002, when the Houston Texans were born. As mentioned above, the Browns were reborn in 1996 and it has somehow been over 25 years already since the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers were added to the league in 1995.
The most significant expansion move of all time is clearly the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, when the NFL onboarded 10 new franchises in a single offseason.
10 Teams That Joined The NFL In The 1970 AFL-NFL Merger:
• Buffalo Bills
• Boston Patriots
• New York Jets
• Houston Oilers
• Denver Broncos
• Kansas City Chiefs
• Oakland Raiders
• Miami Dolphins
• Cincinnati Bengals
• San Diego Chargers
As impactful and hugely positive a move as that 10-team expansion was, it still must be noted the creation of the AFC and NFC conferences has led to the annual monstrosity known today as the Pro Bowl.
Why Toronto Will Be Awarded The Next NFL Franchise
From a population standpoint, Toronto (+290) is large enough that if it was a U.S. city, it would trail only New York and Los Angeles in total population.
Toronto has already won championships in the NBA, MLB, MLS and the NHL, although very few Maple Leaf fans were actually alive for their last Stanley Cup win. Clearly this city is able to support professional sports and adding an NFL team would be another huge success.
The major hurdle for Toronto, which many Torontonians already know, is that their neighbors down the road in Buffalo draw a strong Toronto crowd. The Bills are also shovel deep in a brand new stadium and the NFL will be very conscious how a Toronto team would impact the Buffalo franchise.
Why London Will Be Awarded The Next NFL Franchise
What better way to test out a market than to host 30 games in that city, which is exactly what the NFL has done with London (+290).
In 2021, the NFL hosted two regular-season games in London on back-to-back weekends, possibly simulating a schedule that a U.K.-based team would need to employ for travel reasons.
The London crowd did not disappoint as both games were sold out, despite Americans not being able to travel due to pandemic restrictions.
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The Jacksonville Jaguars have played a game in London the last eight years the NFL has traveled there (in 2020, the game was canceled due to COVID-19). What more can a potential franchise city do above and beyond supporting the Jags for eight consecutive years?
Why San Antonio Or St. Louis Will Be Awarded The Next NFL Franchise
Everything is bigger in Texas and that might include the passion for NFL football that most Texans have. San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in the United States and the largest one currently without an NFL franchise.
San Antonio was far down the relocation road with the Raiders before Las Vegas eventually stepped up with a new stadium for them. Most people believe it’s not a question of if San Antonio will get a franchise, but more when they will be awarded one.
One of the most memorable football teams during the late 1990s and early 2000s was the St. Louis Rams and their offence, dubbed the Greatest Show on Turf. Kurt Warner, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and of course Marshall Faulk struck fear in opposing defenses and rewrote the club’s offensive record book.
And then, 16 years after celebrating their 2000 Super Bowl victory, the Rams packed up and moved to Los Angeles. Ownership and the city struggled to agree on stadium issues and those issues are still being discussed through the court system today.
Many believe that by awarding St. Louis an expansion franchise, the eventual penalty the courts put on the NFL for moving the team in 2016 could go away or at least be significantly reduced.
I believe that the NFL wants to be the first league to expand globally and they definitely have their sights set on a London team, eventually. I also believe that Toronto could definitely become a home to a franchise that receives great support from the fans and community. However, there is no doubt it would come at the expense of some tickets being sold in Buffalo.
My money is on St. Louis or San Antonio being named the next city to be awarded an NFL team. I will drop a half unit on both those cities at +400 and wait it out until announcement day arrives.