Elora is often associated with its close proximity to Toronto, and all the expectations that come with being part of a large city’s orbit. Yet there’s something else that makes Elora a special place, and that is its central location to several prominent American cities. The town is basically at a midpoint between Buffalo, New York (2-3 hours), Cleveland, Ohio (5-6 hours), and Detroit, Michigan (3-4 hours) – all of which are interesting places to visit, but also happen to be big NFL cities.
This may not be something people would ordinarily pick up on, but with the 2019 NFL season just underway, it is interesting that Elora residents (or people passing through) have a good excuse to take an interest in not one, but three NFL franchises – even though the town is in Canada. Given this, we wanted to take a look at how the new season is expected to go for the three franchises.
The Lions’ coach, Matt Patricia, is starting just his second season as a head coach this year, with a team that’s viewed as a fairly middle-of-the-road group. That said, there’s some hope that this team ends up with a fairly strong offense. Veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford is still in control, receivers Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. are perhaps somewhat underrated, and rookie tight-end T.J. Hockenson had a spectacular debut in the first week of action (even if the game ended in a frustrating tie).
The Lions have a fairly loyal fan base though, which means there should typically be a good crowd in Detroit even if this turns out to be a middling group. And for folks in Elora specifically there’s actually a particularly interesting opportunity to head down to Detroit and take in some NFL football live. This is because it’s tradition for the Lions to play on Thanksgiving Day – which is different in the U.S. than in Canada. That’s not to say there isn’t active attendance, but with some Americans preferring to stay home and enjoy Thanksgiving with their families, those from the Elora area may be able to find good tickets for a game that always seems special in one way or another.
Across Lake Eerie from Elora is Cleveland, a city known for its medical clinic, Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame, and long-suffering football team. The Browns franchise was first founded in the 1940s, but is now mostly famous for letting Cleveland down on a continual basis. Most recently this happened in the NFL’s opening week, when the Browns lost to the Tennessee Titans fairly decisively. But in this case, it was only a disappointment because expectations for the Browns are actually very high. A young core of talented players on both offense and defense has some of the top bookie sites giving the Browns strong odds at a playoff berth. Some bookies are even putting them in the running as Super Bowl contenders.
We should note that currently there is no ferry from Cleveland across Lake Erie (though there is some talk of one). But the trip is still fairly manageable going around the lake to the east – a route which in fact would take you through the last city on our list (though it’s unlikely the schedules will work out so that you can see both teams in one week).
The Bills are nearly on par with the Browns when it comes to long-suffering franchises. But unlike their Cleveland counterparts, the Bills seemed to have everyone guessing coming into this season. Clear improvements at a few key positions are intriguing, but the team still feels somewhat incomplete, leading to relatively middle-of-the-road projections.
Buffalo ended up having itself a wild Week 1, trailing the in-state rival New York Jets for most of the game before roaring back to win late. Rookie running back Devin Singletary made a splash, which will likely have Buffalo fans feeling excited about the future. Before long, Buffalo could become a very fun place to watch football, with a team on the rise and a fan base about as eager as Cleveland’s to see sustainable success. Best of all for Elora fans, though, is that a trip to the Bills’ stadium should take only about two hours, provided a smooth border crossing.
In a roundabout way, the close proximity of these three teams makes Elora a great town for Canadian football fans. There are good reasons to visit all three cities if you’re a fan of NFL action.