We are a week on from the third and final NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium and already there is excitement building ahead of next year.
This year saw, arguably, one of the best International Series games we have seen when the Jacksonville Jaguars finally won a game in London beating the Buffalo Bills in the second game at Wembley this season.
The Bills came from behind to take the lead in the 4th quarter leading 31-27, and at the point they took the lead, many would think that Buffalo would win the game with the Jags scoring all of their 27 points in the 2nd quarter and not being one of the most inform sides in the NFL. However it was a last gasp touchdown for the UK’s adopted team that gave the Jags an historic win and kept England’s national stadium full to the end.
The game was just what the NFL would have wanted, trailing out broadcasting the game live online via Yahoo across the world, a move which I imagine we will see again in 2016.
The first 2015 International Series game wasn’t the highest scoring but it was very competitive, with the ‘home’ side, the Miami Dolphins, losing to the New York Jets 26-14, you can read my thoughts on that game here.
The third and final game last weekend saw the final ‘home’ team, Kansas City Chiefs also making history, equaling New England’s record of the most points scored in an NFL game at Wembley as they thrashed Detroit 45-10.
The Lions came over in 2014 and beat the Atlanta Falcons 22-21 in a very competitive game. This time around they didn’t get off the plane, just scoring a field goal in the 1st few minutes of the game and a touchdown in the 4th quarter and that was it. The Wembley crowd were treated to a high scoring game, but that didn’t avoid the mass emptying of the stadium early, as people rushed to avoid the tube traffic as the game was pretty much all over before the second half started.
When the games were announced a few fans complained at the quality of the teams but for me, they were all good games for different reasons and how can we complain when these teams are giving up a home game to fly over to London just to entertain us?!
So what does 2016 have in store for the International Series? As the title of this blog suggests, a lot more!
We had an announcement this week from NFL UK that there will be at least one game played at England’s home of rugby, Twickenham, from October 2016-2018. Twickenham has just played host to the final of what some have called the best Rugby World Cup to date and will be opening its doors to NFL for the first time ever, expanding the amount of Stadia that hosts competitive NFL games in the UK.
This deal goes along side the current Wembley International Series deal which has been extended to at least two games a season until 2020 with Jacksonville Jaguars extending their deal to play at least one “home” fixture at Wembley until 2020.
Finally, the NFL announced last year that a deal had been made with London Premier League side Tottenham Hotspurs, to play at least two NFL games at their new stadium from 2018, with the new stadium having a purpose built NFL field.
2016 will bring us at least 3 games in London, two at Wembley and one at Twickenham. No news yet on whether there will be three games at Wembley in 2016 as there was this year, but with at least five games in 2018 with Spurs’ new stadium coming in to the mix of UK NFL host, there will surely be four games in either 2016 or 2017 to avoid the jump up and after two seasons of three games, is it time for two seasons of four games?
NFL UK have said there will be an announcement before the Superbowl in February. A few of the teams rumour to be coming over include Green Bay, who could be the road team for the Jaguars home fixture, Cincinnati who are yet to come over and Washington who are rumour to be lined up as a home side.
As well as games in London, there are rumours that the NFL is planning to expand the International Series games to Mexico which could be added as soon as 2016.
With announcements due soon, we at Severn Sport will be sat on the edge of our seats to see who will be coming over and how many games will be played outside of the States in 2016!