Tonight marks the climax of nine months' eager anticipation since we broke the news to you that the NFL was coming to town. Two days ago we secured a ticket via the final sale we mentioned last Tuesday and we can't wait for the action to begin at 5pm. If you're catching the game on TV (Sky Sports live, or BBC2 highlights at 10:50pm), you're in plenty of company. The game is being carried in 215 countries by 39 broadcast partners in 21 languages, including much of the US itself as can be seen from this map. Wherever you're watching, here's a few things to keep an eye out for:
1. The Four Giant Aces
If form holds true this game will be dominated not by either quarterback or a swashbuckling runner, but by the New York Giants defenders tasked with enabling the Dolphins signal caller to taste turfburger. Our own commentors have previously proposed that the play of the lumbering blokes on either team's front line is something akin to the Batley Townswomens' Guild's re-enactments so beloved of Monty Python, but the folks at the fabulous Football Outsiders site would beg to differ. The Giants have devised a way to make use of all four of their aggressive Defensive Ends (of which there would usually only be two on the field at any given time) to terrify the opposition passer:
The key to the Four Aces package isn’t just the speed of the Giants’ ends. If Strahan [Michael - he of the deodorant ads] and company just tried to beat their respective blockers to the outside, then opponents would kill them with delays and draw plays or fan their pass protection to the outside. The Four Aces have been successful thus far because each lineman possesses a great combination of athleticism, technique, and discipline...
By the end of the night you will know the names Jason Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka and Osi Umenyiora, who incidentally has a British passport as he spent his early life just three miles from Wembley. And Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes is from Scotland.
2. The Dolphins Tribute Team
If you buy an official programme, don't bother reading the Dolphins squad profiles. Given printing deadlines we're confident there's lots about quarterback Trent Green (possible career ending concussion three weeks ago), star running back Ronnie Brown (season ending torn knee ligament last weekend), stalwart wide receiver Chris Chambers (recently traded to San Diego) and sundry others who are still in various states of ill repair back in Florida. We feel most sorry for long-serving crucial linebacker Zach Thomas who, after an almost legendary number of game-related concussions didn't make the flight here because of whiplash he suffered in a minor car crash on the way home from last Sunday's game. Freshly signed running back replacement Samkon Gado allegedly couldn't make it because he couldn't get his passport together in time, not usually a problem during game week. The man taking Green's place as the quarry of the Four Aces goes by the name of Cleo Lemon. Good luck with that, Cleo.
3. The Dolphins Putting Up A Plucky Display
It's technically their home game, though frankly having started the season with seven losses out of seven they're probably delighted to be playing a few time zones away from their dispirited regular crowd in front of thousands of dedicated Dolphins fans who are thrilled simply to be able to see them (and 3,500 making the trip from Miami - those staying behind can watch at Dolphins stadium as well as enjoying entertainment including "field and locker room visits and British food"). The Giants, in contrast, are on a roll after a tricky first couple of matches and are probably somewhat exasperated to have to break off for a quick 8,000 mile round trip just when they were finding a groove. The traffic round here isn't helping them, either. If the Giants beat the jet lag the Dolphins problems could begin with trying to get back into the country on Monday.
4. TV Coverage Less Smooth Than Usual
As Rachel Cohen points out in USA Today, there could be communication problems between experienced producer Barry Landis and the roughly twenty British technicians he hires to assist his team of eight. His presenting team did a run through yesterday, which would be unheard of in the States, to help the locals get the hang of snaps, sacks, dropbacks and flags.
"Historically, they're very eager to learn," Landis said in a phone interview from London. "Sometimes it's almost better that way. They don't get to overthinking it."
The visitors, meanwhile, will have hopefully worked out where all the buttons are on their UK consoles and headsets. If the man charged with muting the on-pitch mics just after the two lines collide hasn't we could be listening in on some very technical commentary on the state of the game.
Read our report on the event itself here.