Welcome to Wembley? Over the past week, the NFL confirmed that the International Series would be extended until 2025. We then heard that the Washington Redskins are considering giving up one of their home games next year to stage a game at Wembley. So that got us thinking. 12 teams have yet to play in at Wembley as part of the International Series. So which of those franchises would be willing to give up a home game and instead host one in London?
Philadelphia Eagles – NO
Perhaps nowhere are fans fiercer than in Philly. In a tough division, home-field advantage is key. Eagles fans probably wouldn’t appreciate the team losing a home game to play somewhere else, and the players probably would shudder at the thought of cramming an international trip in alongside Chip Kelly’s tough practice regime.
Washington Redskins – YES
As mentioned here, the Redskins are considering giving up a home game next season and hosting a game at Wembley. The Redskins were a hugely successful and popular team in the 1980s when the NFL first experimented with international games, and would probably get a large turnout of British fans. A game in London would also give America’s most controversial team a break from the hyper-sensitive media environment in D.C.
Seattle Seahawks – NO
The Seahawks are all but unbeatable at CenturyLink Field in Seattle; since Pete Carroll took over in 2010, the Seahawks have an impressive 28-8 record at home. That is a huge advantage, especially in an ultra-competitive NFC. The last two NFC championships have gone through Seattle, and the Seahawks have won both – they certainly wouldn’t want to lose some of the 12th Man magic with a trip to London.
Baltimore Ravens – NO
Back in April, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti said that he “would absolutely love going to London”. He said there was a 75% to 80% chance that the Ravens would make the trip in the next four years; but he also said that he wouldn’t want to give up a home game – and the terms of their lease agreement with the Maryland Stadium Authority states that the cannot play as the home team in any stadium other than M&T Bank. If the Ravens are coming to Wembley, it will have to be as a road team; and with the atmosphere at Wembley games often described as being similar to a playoff game, Joe Flacco could thrive in London.
Green Bay Packers – NO
Back in July, a report surfaced that the Packers were considering playing at Wembley in 2016. President Mark Murphy told reporters that he believes the Packers “will probably play there in the coming years.” However, Murphy also said that the Packers would never give up a home game to host a game at Wembley, saying “it’s too important for the community.” The rumoured waiting list to get season tickets for Lambeau Field is around 900 years, and moving a home game overseas would shortchange fans who effectively part-own the team.
Carolina Panthers – NO
With the news of the International Series extended until 2025, and with the possibility of a return to Mexico, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera spoke about the series recently. Rivera isn’t sure if Carolina’s stadium contract would allow them to give up a home game, but he would like to stay in Carolina for a full slate of home games. “I like the idea of us having eight home games here. I’d hate to see us lose one,” Rivera said. The Panthers also have a considerable advantage at home; they are 11-5 in Carolina over the past two seasons.
Arizona Cardinals – NO
The Cardinals enjoy a considerable home-field advantage, with 98 consecutive sell-outs in Glendale. While team president Michael Bidwell stated in London last year that he would love for the team to take part in the International Series, he stated that it would only be as the road team.
Houston Texans – NO
Football is almost a religion in Texas. Fans probably wouldn’t want to lose a chance to see their team play at home, meaning it would be difficult for the Texans to justify hosting a game at Wembley.
Tennessee Titans – YES
After struggling at the bottom of the AFC South for years, home-field advantage hasn’t helped the Titans much in recent years. As a young, growing team, a game overseas would help them connect with new fans, and would provide a highlight for Tennessee’s streak of disappointing seasons.
Indianapolis Colts – NO
The Colts play in a closed-roof stadium, and probably wouldn’t want to lose any home-field advantages that might give them, especially if they want to battle continually at the top of the AFC.
Cincinnati Bengals – YES
Last year, the Bengals agreed on a $16.5 million deal with Hamilton County officials for a new phase of developments at Paul Brown Stadium. The new agreement states that the county will allow the Bengals to play two international games as a home team. With takers for hosting games at Wembley running thin, it’s possible the Bengals will stage one of those games next year.
Cleveland Browns – NO
The Browns’ lease with the city of Cleveland states that “for not less than 30 years, all regular season games” must be played at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns moved into the stadium in 1999, meaning that we might not see the Browns host an international series game for a long time. Unless the NFL makes it mandatory for teams to host a Wembley game, although this looks unlikely.