A few weeks ago I took a few leaps of faith to try and second guess the NFL London 2019 fixtures and now we know who is coming across the pond next season. So, how did I do – well I got one spot on (Bengals @ Rams) and one sort of right (Bears @ Raiders – I went for Mexico but this one is coming to London). Interestingly the NFL went against previous years and have included a couple of divisional match ups which should add a bit more spice and rivalry to the games. Let’s rank the London games just for fun:
- Chicago Bears @ Oakland Raiders – huge UK fan base for both these sides and following the Bears’ success, and the Raiders’ well-documented issues under new HC Jon Gruden, interest in this fixture will be high. Don’t forget the Raiders have 3 first-round picks in the draft. I hope this is one of the latter London fixtures to give the Raiders’ much changed roster time to bed down – and it has to be Wembley as they will sell out the 90,000 seats easily.
- Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars – the Jags have developed a strong following in the UK over a number of years and Wembley is their second home. As this is an AFC South match up that will add to the interest and, as reigning division champs, the Texans have much to defend. QB sensation Deshaun Watson will also be a big draw for the crowds.
- Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers – the Panthers are coming to the UK for the first time and that will no doubt draw interest from UK fans. Another divisional match up, versus the Bucs who will be led by Bruce Arians. He has put his faith in Jameis Winston but they also have 5th first round pick – who will that be. Think the UK crowd will also be excited to see Christian McCaffrey and hopefully a fit Cam Newton.
- Cincinnati Bengals @ LA Rams – would have put this higher, particularly in view of the Rams who could be coming across as reigning Super Bowl champs. However, looking at the Bengals they need to make huge offseason improvements in order to make a game of this – and they are yet to confirm the HC for next season. Fear this one could be a blowout so it comes in fourth.
Overall I’m pleased to see divisional match ups included and teams coming across for their first trip (Carolina and Houston) but we are still waiting to see the Green Bay Packers in the UK and it is a shame they won’t be over in 2019 – let’s hope they can be included for the 2020 fixtures.
I know I can’t wait to get confirmation of where in the season these fixtures will sit and how tickets will be released. Also looking forward to Spurs’ new stadium hosting games, although I miss Twickenham as feel this was a stadium well suited to the NFL fixtures.
Which games are people most keen to see?