With just a few days left until Thanksgiving, NFL fans in the UK have one more thing to be thankful for; that there will be 3 more games played in London. On October 2nd the Jacksonville Jaguars will play host to the Indianapolis Colts at Wembley Stadium. Then, on October 23rd the St. Louis Rams will have their 2nd home game in London since 2012 against an NFC East team, depending on where they finish in the NFC West, at Twickenham. Finally, back at Wembley, the Cincinnati Bengals will host the Washington Redskins on October 30th.
1. More Stadiums getting involved
Every International Series game has been played at Wembley, but with so many large capacity stadiums/state of the art stadiums in the UK is was a matter of time until another one was used. This year – and for 2 more years – Twickenham will play host to 1 game. This is great, it makes the game a bit more accessible to more people and gives fans something new to look forward to.
2. Back-to-back games again
This year fans were treated to back-to-back games for the first time and it was a success. Both games sold out and the atmosphere around both games was the same as ever, so it’s happening again next season. As a fan, I like that the country will once again be immersed in Football for 2 full weekends again.
3. At least 3 new teams
The Colts, Bengals and Redskins will all be making their London debuts, furthermore, is the Eagles and Rams finish in the same position within their divisions then UK fans will be treated to 4 new teams. This is fantastic to hear as an NFL fan. It gives everyone, the players and coaches included, a chance to experience something new, and that’s exciting. It also allows teams to try to form new, bigger fan bases in the UK.
4. The Bengals are coming to town
Can we get a “WHO DEY?”! The Bengals are one of the best teams in the NFL right now and are definitely a favourite to make the Super Bowl. This is because they have, arguably, the best roster top-to-bottom in the NFL. The offense is built like a powerhouse with rising stars or established stars in every position, and the defense has been one of the best in the league for the last few years. Thanks to them locking up a lot of these players for the foreseeable future – health permitting – the Bengals could be one of the best teams to ever play in London.
5. The Colts are coming across the pond
The Colts coming to town has a lot of similarities to the Bengals. The Colts have been one of the best teams in the NFL for several years – hopefully this year is an exception – and have been one of the best teams to watch thanks to their high powered offense. Andrew Luck coming back to London – he lived here when he was young – is reason enough to get excited.
6. Todd Gurley and Tavon Austin
Todd Gurley is quickly putting together a very impressive résumé as an NFL running back. Tavon Austin, though he hasn’t reached the heights the Rams would’ve hoped, is very exciting to watch and is a big play waiting to happen. These two are the foundation of an intriguing offense and are two young players who will only improve. I’m very excited to see them play in person.
7. The Rams defense
Todd Gurley and Tavon Austin aren’t the only people to be excited about regarding the Rams. Along the defensive line alone the Rams have a ton of talent that will be a treat to watch for the fans. Robert Quinn, Aaron Donald, Chris Long, Michael Brockers and Nick Fairley are dominant and great to watch. Te rest of the defense isn’t too bad either.
8. The Jaguars offense
The Jaguars offense is littered with young, rising stars, and fans here have been able to watch them develop over the last few years. Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns, TJ Yeldon and Marqise Lee are all young and are showing improvement already. By next year, these players should be even better. The fact that the Jags are effectively ‘London’s team’ means we will continue to be able to see them develop and, hopefully, see the team as a whole improve and grow going forward. This is more exciting to me than just watching established teams every year.
9. Potential Rams – NFC East matchups
This game could be interesting whoever represents the NFC East. If it’s the Philadelphia Eagles, not only will fans have the chance to see Chip Kelly’s unique offense, DeMarco Murray and other big names take the field, but we’ll also be able to see the Nick Foles and Sam Bradford go head-to-head against the teams that got rid of them. Though that match-up doesn’t seem too great, it could be interesting to see these two players try to stick it to their ex-teams. It would also mean fans get to see a 4th new team. If the Giants make the trip across the pond, fans will have the chance to see one of the most exciting and explosive players in the league in Odell Beckham Jr. I for one would love to see this, and I think both teams and the NFL should as well. It would be an excellent chance for them to advertise some of the best talent the NFL has to offer, and of course a chance to sell a ridiculous amount of merchandise. The Cowboys would be making their second trip to London in 3 years and I would definitely not complain. Not only would it be a chance to see the ‘America’s team’ for the second time, it would be a chance to watch Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten, 3 of the NFL’s best players at their respective positions. Finally, if the Redskins end up facing the Rams, that would mean they would play their 1st and 2nd games in London in back-to-back weekends. This would be unprecedented for the International Series, having one team play two games in one year. Another element that makes this intriguing is that both Redskins games would be away games, so to see if they end up having more of a home-field advantage would be interesting.
10. We still have football games
With all the contracts that have been renewed or signed to keep football in this country for the foreseeable future and the fact that we have 3 games again this year is the main reason to be excited. The NFL doesn’t seem to be losing interest in hosting games here currently or in the future, so let’s enjoy it whilst it lasts.