The NFL has made a triumphant return to the vibrant city of London this week, promising a star-studded spectacle for its fervent international fanbase. The 2023 international series, a testament to the league's continuous growth in Europe, will feature a record-breaking five regular-season games on European soil, marking a significant milestone in the NFL's commitment to global expansion.
This extravaganza of American football kicks off with a bang at Wembley Stadium this Sunday, where the Jacksonville Jaguars, no strangers to the London stage, will grace the field. Remarkably, they are not merely making a one-time appearance; they're "double-dipping" in the spotlight this season.
This unique distinction makes them the first NFL team to play two regular-season games outside the United States in a single campaign. Their London sojourn doesn't end there, as they'll face off against Josh Allen's Buffalo Bills at Tottenham the following Sunday.
This matchup is particularly thrilling, as it marks the first time since 2016 that two playoff-contending teams from the previous season meet in London, promising a showdown of epic proportions.
Young Star Lawrence Shines
Trevor Lawrence, the young and promising quarterback for the Jaguars, aims to make waves in London, having already secured his first NFL win on British soil in 2021.
Under the guidance of Super Bowl-winning coach Doug Pederson, Lawrence has lived up to his billing as a 'generational talent' selected first in the 2021 draft. The Jaguars are banking on Lawrence's stellar performance and their potent offensive lineup, which includes stars like running back Travis Etienne, tight end Evan Engram, and receiver Christian Kirk, to dazzle the London crowd.
On the opposite side of the field, the Atlanta Falcons are making a swift return to London following their victory in 2021. Despite undergoing significant changes, including the departure of long-serving quarterback Matt Ryan and the emergence of rookie Desmond Ridder, the Falcons remain a formidable force with a promising young offense featuring talents like tight end Kyle Pitts, wide receiver Drake London, and running backs Tyler Allgeier and Bijan Robinson.
As for the Buffalo Bills, they are determined to make their mark on the international stage, led by star quarterback Josh Allen, a perennial Most Valuable Player contender. The Bills, once preseason Super Bowl favorites, have fallen short in recent years, but they still boast a Super Bowl-caliber roster.
In this fiercely competitive AFC Conference, the game presents a golden opportunity for both Jacksonville and Lawrence to prove their mettle among the league's elite. Additionally, Jags linebacker Josh Allen aims to outshine his more illustrious namesake, as he did in their last meeting in 2021.
The London games aren't just about football; they are also about fan engagement. To enhance the experience, Disney+ will offer a unique perspective by animating the players in 'Andy's room' during Sunday's game. The NFL will also host an immersive takeover event at Battersea Power Station on October 7th, where fans can test their football skills and meet NFL legends.
The excitement continues at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which has extended its contract to host a minimum of two regular-season games per year until 2029. Additionally, the NFL Academy will participate in a historic match against Erasmus Hall, a US high school from Brooklyn, at Tottenham on October 10th.
The NFL Academy, now based in Loughborough, aims to groom young African and European talents for NFL stardom, providing a glimpse into the league's bright future. In this electrifying atmosphere, where stars and rookies alike take the stage, the NFL international series promises to be a captivating spectacle for football enthusiasts worldwide.
With thrilling matchups and engaging events, the stage is set for an unforgettable experience for fans on both sides of the Atlantic.