The NFL has continued to grow exponentially across the world, cracking markets in continent after continent. One of the biggest markets they have experienced such growth however is the UK. Over the last 15 years or so, the NFL has gained a stronger foothold across the pond and now boasts a huge 14 million fans.
This boom began in 2007 when the NFL ran their first ever international series game at Wembley Stadium in London. Although it was a relatively low-key affair, with the New York Giants defeating the Miami Dolphins 13-10, it was a major success. The game attracted 81,176 spectators with the first 40,000 tickets selling out for the game in the first 90 minutes of sales. It was such a success that the league decided to host a single game at Wembley every season until 2013, when it increased to two games.
Ten years on, we are now seeing either three or four games held each year in the UK with Premier League Soccer team Tottenham Hotspur even installing a complete league-ready field under their surface to become the home of the NFL in the UK.
In 2023 we will see three games taking place, one in Wembley Stadium and two in the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Let’s take a look at the scheduled games, taking place in October.
Atlanta Falcons vs Jacksonville Jaguars – October 1
The Jaguars have become a staple of the International Series in the UK. They have played at least one game every year since 2013 owing to their strong base in London. Owner Shahid Khan, who also owns English soccer club Fulham FC, struck a partnership in 2012 that would mean a home game in London for each of the following four seasons before extending it again in 2015. Khan has called it their “home away from home,”.
Looking towards the game, the Jaguars are coming off of a AFC South title win in 2023 and are favored to do it again in 2024. NFL future odds have them as favorites to reclaim their title for the second year in a row. The Falcons on the other hand face a tough test with the NFC South one of the most competitive in the league.
Jags quarterback Trevor Lawrence found his footing in the league last year after a poor rookie season. He was named as a pro-bowler and will be looking forward to wowing the UK audience once again.
The Falcons opted against drafting a quarterback during the offseason, showing incredible confidence in Desmond Ridder who will be playing in his sophomore season.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs Buffalo Bills
In their second international series game, the Jags will face off against the Buffalo Bills. The two have history in London with the Bills playing them in their only other appearance in the UK back in 2015. Jacksonville fended off the Bills that time round in a 34-31 thriller. However, the Bills have come on leaps and bounds since then.
They were heavily favored to lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy last season and looked on course to at least appear in the Super Bowl. They defeated the Dolphins in the Wild Card round but fell to a disappointing defeat against the Bengals in the Divisional round.
Josh Allen is fancied by some as the best quarterback in the league and will be hungry to make good on last season’s disappointment. This could be a great steppingstone on their way to the Super Bowl as they look to win their first game in the UK against a fierce opponent.
Baltimore Ravens vs Tennessee Titans
One of the biggest stories of the offseason was Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson’s admission that he had requested his release. The former MVP had become the Ravens’ talisman since his arrival in 2018 and this may have blown their season away were it not for his change of heart.
He would eventually sign an extension and will now make his first appearance in an International Series game. He will also bring an array of stars in tow.
Odell Beckham Jr. signed a contract with the team in April and is an incredible talent to add to the Ravens’ receivers. Star tight end Mark Andrews had another great season in 2022 and he and OBJ are sure to be on top of the targets list in the UK.
The Titans will face a tough test in the AFC South though could well land themselves an appearance in the playoffs via the Wild Card places. Star man Derrick Henry will be one of the biggest attractions of the series, however.
A three-time pro-bowler and former NFL Offensive player of the year, his performance will be integral to the Titans chances in this game as they will look to dominate the rush.