The NFL have shared the five teams that will host NFL International Series home games in 2019!
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, LA Rams, LA Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders will each be hosting a game overseas next season, but as of yet there’s been no confirmation which four of the five programmes will be playing London games, and who’ll be the odd one out? And, perhaps of even greater interest, which away teams will be making an appearance? Will we see any of the three remaining outfits that have never hopped across the pond arrive on our shores next autumn?
Let’s take a look at each of the teams and what we know about them and their 2019 schedule so far:
So this one’s fairly simple - the Jags will be returning to their second city in 2019. They’ve got an agreement to play games in Wembley Stadium until 2020, with the option to extend it until 2025.
Their initial deal started in 2013, and the Jags have had great success in both selling out their Wembley fixtures, but also significantly increasing their international fan base while doing so.
While they’ve found only limited success on the field of play this season, disappointing considering their impressive 2017/18 season, they continue to show commitment to the British American Football community through projects including Jag Tag football, the Jaguars Se7ens Cup and the annual Jaguars Players and Coaches Academy.
But who will they be playing?
Jaguars Home Games 2019
As things stand the Jags are currently slated to host:
Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, and an AFC East opponent, dependant upon the teams’ relative finishes this season.
There’s a number of teams we think we can probably cross off right away - the Chargers and Bucs are already hosting games, so you’d expect are extremely unlikely to double-dip.
Additionally, it’s rare we see Divisional matchups make the hop across the pond - 2015’s Jets @ Dolphins and 2016’s Colts @ Jags just two examples in 27 International Series games. We’re not saying it’s not going to happen, but the odds are against it.
This gives us the likely choices of the Kansas City Chiefs, the New Orleans Saints, or, given the current state of the AFC East, either the Buffalo Bills or New York Jets.
Given the impressive seasons the first two outfits are putting together, we’re certain UK NFL fans would appreciate either the Chiefs or Saints making the trip, while the Bills and Jets both boast sizeable UK fan bases.
Bucs Back In the UK?
The Buccaneers were one of the first teams to really embrace the International Series, hosting two of the first five games hosted in Wembley.
However, losses in both seemed to sour their taste for football abroad, and we’ve not seen sight of them since 2011.
Given that the Bucs are an east coast outfit, this surely makes them strong favourites to be one of the other three making the trip to blighty - the time difference less punishing. Of course, it doesn’t help our case that the Oakland Raiders, LA Chargers and LA Rams have each already hosted games in the UK.
But if the Bucs are coming, who would they be playing?
Buccaneers Home Games 2019
Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and an NFC East opponent.
If we apply the same ‘guidelines’ as above (no International Series teams, less likely to be Divisional rivalry game) the most likely options are the Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, the Houston Texans, or potentially… well, the NFC East is such a mess right now, who knows? Given the way things are going, probably the Washington Redskins or the New York Giants.
Given that the Texans are yet to make their first trip to play in the UK the NFL would win themselves a lot of brownie points by picking that game! Similarly, it’s a great opportunity for the Carolina Panthers to finally make the trip, if the NFL can swipe a Divisional game for their UK fans.
Rams returning to our shores?
Now things get a bit trickier, as we move onto three west coast teams, each perhaps as likely as the next to be the ‘odd one out’ that takes a trip to Mexico instead?
While it would be great to see Sean Mcvay’s dynamic outfit return to our shores for a fourth time - they certainly put on quite a show when they tore apart the Cardinals 33-0 in 2017 - the fact that the Rams were initially scheduled to host a game in Mexico last year, before pitch issues saw it return to LA, could well mean the Rams are yet set to return to US’ southern neighbours, rather than the UK?
If they do come though, who might they play?
Rams Home Games 2019
New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, as yet to be determined NFC North Opponent.
As above, this makes the most likely opposition either the New Orleans Saints, the Baltimore Ravens, the Cincinnati Bengals, or, given their respective sizeable leads in their conferences, most likely the Chicago Bears out of the NFC North.
LA Chargers Looking to make it back-to-back successful trips to the UK?
If the Chargers return to London in 2019 they’ll be the first team other than the Jaguars to host UK games in back-to-back seasons!
Having put on a helluva show in the nailbiting game against the Titans earlier this year, and coming in off the back of what’s shaping up to be an impressive 2018/19 campaign, I’m sure UK fans would love to see them… But as they’re the only one of the three west coast outfits yet to host a Mexico game (admittedly, the Rams ended up playing their’s in LA) are they the most likely team to be heading to Mexico City instead?
If they do return to London, who might they bring with them?
Chargers Home Games 2019
Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, and an AFC North opponent… Currently the Baltimore Ravens?
As such, if you scratch off the Divisional Rivals, this leaves us with another opportunity to potentially see the Houston Texans, a huge crowd-pleaser in UK debut of the Green Bay Packers, and some fan favourites in the form of the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens.
Raiders returning for a second straight season?
The Oakland Raiders will participate in their fifth International Series fixture, and notably their fourth-straight since being the first outfit to host fixtures in Mexico City, in 2016. Since then they’re the only NFL team to have played at Estadio Azteca, after the Rams returned to LA last season due to pitch issues. Given their strong links to the city, might they make it a third trip?
Appearing on some of the other host teams’ schedules, we’ve been largely discounting the Raiders from making two trips abroad… but given their rocky situation in the Oakland ahead of their impending move to Las Vegas in 2020, is it possible the Raiders will double-dip abroad in 2019, both as a host AND as a visiting team? If both those outings were in the UK, they could potentially spend more than two weeks on this side of the pond - more than enough time to adjust body clocks and potentially gain an edge over other visiting outfits!
If the trip follows a bye, Oakland could end up spending the better part of a month over here, and we’re fairly certain the faithful Silver and Black community would approve if they did so!
But elsewise, if they do return to Blighty this autumn, who could be tagging along for the ride?
Raiders Home Games 2019
Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers and an AFC North opponent (currently the Bengals, or possibly the Browns).
We’re fairly certain the Jags and Chargers won’t be making two trips (though given the Chargers’ low attendance through 17/18, who knows!) but the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Bengals/Browns are all possibilities. We doubt the NFL would ask the Titans the hit the road two years in a row.
There’s our thoughts on the matter - but what are yours? Which teams do you WANT to see in 2019? Will we finally be able to complete the full 32 team set with each of the three missing outfits possible visitors next year?