As this weird three part series (PLEASE READ PARTS ONE AND TWO) winds to an end, I can’t help but reminisce on what we’ve witnessed. The amazing grabs, the hard hits, the actually close games. I miss the 7am Sunday morning alarm, and the packed train down to London town in the bitter cold. Wait, no, I don’t miss the cold. Either way, I wish we had more of it.
Lucky for us, we know that there’s more coming, albeit next season. A full year to wait for our next London Games fix. So, naturally, our minds wander to 2019, and the potential it can bring us. Which is where the boy Willo steps in. As has become my brand, I’m going to put into the practice the knowledge we’ve learned across the past weeks. This is likely going to end really badly come January/April, so please keep in mind this…
This is all guesswork. “Educated” guesswork, but guesswork nonetheless. This is also free from the potential “London Raiders” experiment I wrote about here. I don’t know anyone in NFL UK (although a kind soul did make me aware of the 2018 games ahead of time). I am putting the pieces together, will try to explain my working, and, hopefully, score a couple of points in the future. It’s all gonna go wrong, isn’t it
What do we know so far
Before we begin, let’s look over the information already available to us. On October 30th, NFL UK put out a social media post confirming that four games will make up the 2019 London Games series; two at Wembley Stadium, two at White Hart Lane 2. The Jacksonville Jaguars are locked in to play a game at Wembley Stadium in 2019, as per the contract they signed in 2015. The Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, and Oakland Raiders are all required to play at least one home game internationally. This can cover both London and Mexico City, and we are yet to have the plans for the 2019 Mexico Games confirmed.
In 2014, any team winning the right to host a Super Bowl was required to play at least one game internationally, within 5 years of being awarded the vote. The Atlanta Falcons, Miami Dolphins, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are set to host the next 3 Super Bowls. The Miami Dolphins completed this requirement in 2017. I also want to make the point that only the Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers, and Carolina Panthers have yet to play in London from the leagues 32 teams.
What are the rules?
Alistair Kirkwood’s openness in podcast and radio appearances confirms any team that puts themselves forward as a home team goes to top of the pile. We’re also aware that all home teams are allowed to “protect” a game on their schedule from international selection. Additionally, a potential opposition can also elect to not play. FINALLY, an away team can only play abroad once every five years, though the Lions have already gone against that, so…?
This is the second season we will see 4 games in one season. The previous season, 2017, gave us 2 games at Wembley Stadium back to back, a two week break, then 2 games at Twickenham Stadium. September 24th, October 1st, October 22nd, October 29th. Following a similar pattern, 2019 will give us 2 games at Wembley on September 29th and October 6th, and 2 games at White Hart Lane October 20th and October 27th. Or vice versa.
Ok. Got it?
A lot of moving parts here. With all this in mind, this is what I believe will be the 4 games heading to London in 2019.
Game One: Kansas City Chiefs @ Jacksonville Jaguars – 29/09/19, Wembley Stadium
Hell of a game to kick us off. The new Princes of the AFC, the Chiefs, travel to London for the second time to play London’s team. The story here should be the Jaguars disgracefully talented defense locking horns with the firepower brought by Mahomes, Hunt, Hill et al.
As with most stories surrounding the Jaguars, however, all eyes will likely be on whoever is under centre. Bortles has traditionally performed well in London, however his general play leaves plenty to be desired. Is 2019 the year London is treated to a new era of Quarterbacking from the Jags? Or will the attention be stolen by a potential MVP? Either way, a cracking game to get 2019 underway.
Game Two: Chicago Bears @ Oakland Raiders – 06/10/2019, Wembley
The Raiders had a torrid time at Wembley Stadium this year. Their “unique” location situation will likely leave them little choice but to live it out again. If the Raiders stadium struggles continue, don’t be surprised if they, and the Rams, play out a 2 game Mexican Games series, AS WELL AS a London Games fixture. I have them facing off against one of the more intriguing sides in the NFC, the Chicago Bears.
Chicago would travel to London with a 1-0 record in the city, while Oakland would sit at 0-2. The story wouldn’t be Gruden vs Nagy, or whatever Quarterback the Raiders wheel out next season vs Trubisky. Of course, it would be the Khalil Mack revenge game. To have it play out as the first game at the new White Hart Lane would be a pretty big deal. Especially when you know he’ll get 18 sacks in one game.
Game Three: Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons – 20/10/2019, White Hart Lane
Third week, first new team. Killer Cam and the Panthers travel 5000 miles to the Atlanta Falcons to play out an NFC South divisional.
Atlanta have to give up a home game by 2021 as a result of hosting Super Bowl 53. Fans who travelled to ATL in 2017 understand that a Falcons appearance in London is all but confirmed. I’ve seen Cowboys fans state they’ve heard that they’ll be a side playing internationally, and the Falcons are due to host an NFC East side in 2019. As it stands, that team is the Dallas Cowboys. That said, I know that Kirkwood has felt Carolina were a side they could have secured in previous years, and this will be the year it happens.
Also I’m due to act as Best Man at a wedding on the 20th of October 2019. So you know life is gonna take a shot at me here.
Game Four: Houston Texans @ Los Angeles Chargers – 27/10/2019, White Hart Lane
The Los Angeles Chargers enjoyed their first London win in 2018. They will return to the city in 2019 to host the Houston Texans. Houston are one of the three teams in the NFL who have yet to play in London, and an effort will be made to have at least 2 of those teams ticked off the list, which is what I’m predicting.
There will likely be disappointment with this announcement, however. Green Bay are slated to travel to the Los Angeles Chargers in 2019, and, as we know, the Packers are immensely popular in the UK. Expect the Chargers to protect that game, and pave the way for the Texans to travel over.
Really, mind, there shouldn’t be much disappointment here. What we lose in Aaron Rodgers, we more than make up for with Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, and J.J.Watt. Have them face up against Philip Rivers, Keenan Allen, and Joey Bosa. There’s enough star power there to more than make up for the genius of A-A-Ron. That’s some game to end the 2019 series.
So what do you think? Would these four games get you interested in buying, or renewing, a season ticket? Or isn’t there anything there worth interesting you? Sound off your dream LIKELY match ups, why not? We’re (hopefully) not too far from the announcement, so we’ll know soon enough who will grace our fair island soon enough!