With the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4) set for a tilt against AFC South rival Houston Texans (5-3) in London this weekend, the hot button topic this week (aside from Texans' defensive end J.J. Watt's season-ending injury) has been the intricacies of playing overseas.
On Sunday, Texans will be making their first-ever trek to London to play a game in Wembley Stadium. They will have to get used to, among other things, a new practice schedule, a new sleep schedule, and a new playing turf.
Asking a team to pick up its things in the middle of the season to make a trip of this magnitude is no easy task, and shouldn't be mistaken as such. Luckily for the Jaguars, they have been doing it each season since 2013, making this their seventh straight year taking a trip there.
Thanks to that experience they have been able to nail down the logistics and best practices for preparing their bodies and minds for the trip. Some players like defensive tackle Abry Jones and center Brandon Linder have made the trek to London several times and know what advice to give to the younger players who will fly there for the first time.
"Get on the plane, if you feel sleepy, you go to sleep," Jones said when asked what his advice for the younger players has been.
"You gotta get rid of the jet lag, the time change, and whatnot. That is just the best way. So when I feel sleepy, I go to sleep. When I wake up, once I stay up that early morning the next day, I just stay up."
But does the years of experience in London give the Jaguars an advantage? The answers from those who have experienced it, and will experience it for the first time Sunday, is a mixed bag.
"No. Unless they are just going over there drinking and partying and stuff," Jones said with a laugh Wednesday.
"You get you a good nap in, a goods night of sleep, you should be good to go."
For Texans head coach Bill O'Brien, he knows there likely will not be much of a home-field advantage for Jacksonville in terms of fans in the stands, not like a typical Jaguars home game, at least.
But he does think there is something to the theory that their experience in London can help them, especially as each team tries to normalize their weeks. Though at the end of the day, each team needs to simply prepare for a typical football game.
"They have been over there several times. Coach (Doug) Marrone knows the routine of going over there," O'Brien said.
"I think there is something to that, but at the end of the day on Sunday, whatever time kickoff is, both teams need to be ready to go. "
For Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone, he has seen Jacksonville win in London more often times than not. Since 2015, the first year Marrone joined the Jaguars staff as its offensive line coach, the Jaguars have gone 3-1 in London, including a 44-7 victory over the Baltimore Ravens in 2017.
So, does Marrone see his team's experience in London as a massive advantage? Not quite, but he does think there is some truth to the idea that a player having experience in the situation is a positive.
“I think it’s the players, yeah. If someone asked me what the advantage is, it’s being able to talk to multiple people that have done it," Marrone said Wednesday.
"For me to say how I do it, doesn’t really concern the players, but I think the players amongst each other, talking about how they do it, is probably the most important thing.”
If the Jaguars pull off a victory on Sunday, it is highly unlikely their experience in London will play much of a factor, if any factor at all. But when you have to make massive changes to your routine in Week 9 of the season, there is no doubt that there is something to say about the advantage of logistical experience, even if the advantage is minimal.