NFL’s future in London, Joe Philbin’s winning ways and more

USA Football numbers show that Canada, Mexico and Japan sit on a second tier, and Germany, Austria and France are on the third tier, with the UK behind that. But because of the marketplace, the business opportunities, the proximity, the logistics of TV distribution and the lack of a language barrier, London has become the NFL’s guinea pig, with the league committed to getting it right there before using the blueprint elsewhere. The NFL has an exclusive deal with Wembley Stadium through 2016, which means all its games in the UK must be played there and that the league probably won’t look elsewhere globally until at least 2017. 2013 International Series Take a look at photos of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings from across the pond. All this will make the next few years interesting. The league now has three owners who also own Premier League teams (Stan Kroenke, Shad Khan, Malcolm Glazer), and one of those owners, Khan, has committed his club, the Jacksonville Jaguars , to playing in London this year and each of the next three years. Khan’s investment in the UK should bolster the NFL’s efforts, since he’s deploying staff members and resources overseas to make it work. Then there’s that word again — ambition. After all, whether or not London is ready to have an NFL team won’t be decided on a pie chart or bar graph, or through some mathematical equation. It’ll be decided by 32 men who’ve seen their sport grow to a saturation point domestically and who, as titans of industry, always are looking for ways (see: 18 regular-season games) to expand outside the box from which they operate. So Parsons and the NFL really are like the rest of us on this one: Waiting to see what happens next.

I still cant for the life of me figure out why commissioner Roger Goodell seems so intent on having an NFL franchise in London one day. I think it would be a logistical nightmare — as does Steelers free safety Ryan Clark who told ESPNs “NFL Live” on Wednesday that he would retire before playing for a London-based team if he had to make that choice. Then there is the reality of how rooted futbol is in Europe. Kovacevic illustrates how a major difference between futbol and football is one reason why the latter has never really caught on across the Atlantic Ocean. The Steelers’ players echoed the sentiments of their coach before the team left for London. There are ample sightseeing opportunities in London, but the Steelers wont take advantage of them since they are focused on coming home with a win . The Steelers need improved play along the offensive line if they are to beat the Minnesota Vikings and avoid an 0-4 start. In their quest to find the right combination up front the Steelers will continue to rotate Kelvin Beachum at tackle with Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams. Adams and Gilbert have each struggled through the first three games, and if they dont show marked improvement Beachum will see the field more and more. The Steelers dont have a lot of other options as they try to get better play out of their line, and their hope has to be that some competition will compel Adams and Gilbert to raise their respective games. Kion Wilson has started the last two games at strongside inside linebacker but rookie Vince Williams is on track to make the position his . The sixth-round draft pick played 75 percent of the defensive snaps, considerably more than Wilson, last Sunday night, and it is worth noting that the Steelers list the two as co-starters on their depth chart.