American Football in Europe: NFL Announces Their International Games

American Football in Europe: NFL Announces Their International Games

American football in Europe has taken on a new meaning in recent years as the NFL looks to expand its influence in markets around the world. The league originally promoted itself abroad through a series of preseason games played annually overseas between 1986 and 2005. 

In October 2007, the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants were featured in the first ever regular season game played in London, which took place in Wembley Stadium. Over the next 10 seasons, the league successfully played 14 more regular season games in London

The NFL International Series, as it came to be known as, has evolved greatly since 2016. Not only did the NFL London Games extend to Twickenham Stadium and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but the NFL played its second regular season game in Mexico City at Estadio Azteca.

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American Football in Europe Continues in 2022

American Football in Europe: NFL Announces Their International Games
Ulrike Stein / Shutterstock

As of 2022, the NFL has played 33 regular season games internationally since 2007 – 30 of which were in London and three of which in Mexico City. Those numbers will continue to rise as the NFL eyes another turning point in its NFL International Series ahead of the 2022-23 season.

According to a statement by the NFL on February 28, the 2022-23 regular season will not only feature three games in London and one game in Mexico City, but it’ll feature the first ever regular season game in Germany. The game will be played in Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany.

Although dates weren’t announced and the 2022-23 schedule hasn’t been released yet, the NFL did list the five NFL teams that will be considered the home teams– the Green Bay Packers, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Let’s take a closer look at each team and some of the players these international fans will get to see in-person.

5. Green Bay Packers

As of the end of last season, the Green Bay Packers were the only NFL team to never appear in an NFL International Series game. With the NFL’s announcement, the Packers will finally get their opportunity abroad in one of the two games being played in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. 

It’s quite a surprise it took this long to get the Packers in London, especially considering how many fans they have abroad. “It’s going to be like a home game. It will be 60% or more Packers fans I would imagine, when it comes to match day,” said one Packers’ fan in Leicester, England. 

Although this is the first time the Packers travel to London, fans of American football in Europe can rest assured that they will have an opportunity to witness one of the premier, most historical NFL teams live in their home city. The Packers are 39-10 across the past three seasons.

With three consecutive 13-game seasons under one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time in Aaron Rodgers, a lot of their success this upcoming season will depend on whether or not he returns to the roster. If not, this team could look a lot different and a lot less competitive. 

Rodgers is the reigning back-to-back MVP winner, throwing for 8,414 yards, 85 touchdowns, and just 9 interceptions in those two years. Davante Adams has been his star receiver with 238 catches, 2,927 receiving yards, and 29 receiving touchdowns over the past two seasons.

The team has made it clear that they want Rodgers to return and are committed to winning a Super Bowl with him. If they can bring him back, then London better brace themselves for one of the best arms in all of football. It’s something you won’t want to miss – especially live, in-person.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars will be the second of three teams hosting a regular season game in London and the only team to be playing in Wembley Stadium. It has become an annual tradition for the Jaguars, who have played a game in London every year since 2013 – except in 2020. 

In fact, the London community has embraced the Jaguars so much that there have been numerous rumors of a potential move by the team to London. Although those rumors have existed for several years, there’s no doubt the Jaguars are the right team to relocate. 

The Jaguars are 4-4 in their eight London appearances over the past nine seasons. They lost their first two games in 2013 and 2014, but won three-straight between 2015 and 2017. They’re 1-2 since, but defeated the Miami Dolphins 23-20 in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in 2021. 

This will be the first time the Jaguars have played in Wembley since 2019 when they lost to the Houston Texans 26-3 in what was a lousy performance. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league canceled their NFL International Series for the 2020 season to keep players safe. 

The Jaguars entered the league in 1995 and made the playoffs four of their first five seasons, including two trips to the AFC Championship game. Unfortunately, they’ve only had three playoff appearances and have just four winning seasons since 2000 – that’s a 22-year period!

It’s a good thing the London community embraces this team because they might not get a good show out of it – unless they play a good team. Jacksonville is just 4-29 in the past two seasons and while they do have some good pieces to build around, they’re far away from contending. 

3. New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints will be the third and final team hosting a regular season game in London this season. Like the Packers, they’ll be playing in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the third largest football stadium in England. It’s their third London appearance, but first in Tottenham. 

The Saints’ first appearance came in 2008 at Wembley Stadium and it was just the second installment of the London Games. They defeated the San Diego Chargers 37-32 in a game that featured a lot of offense. Drew Brees went 30/41 for 339 yards and three touchdowns. 

Their second London appearance came in 2017 and was one of two games played at Wembley Stadium that season. The Saints defeated the Miami Dolphins 20-0 in what was the 14th shutout in team history and first ever away from their home stadium. It was a dominant performance.

The Saints are going to put their 2-0 record in London on the line this season and they won’t have Drew Brees to lead them to victory – he threw five touchdowns and zero interceptions in those two victories. Not having their longtime head coach Sean Payton will also hurt. 

With that said, the New Orleans Saints are ready to turn the chapter – they’ve been ready since Brees retired last season, but even more ready now that Payton has retired. They’ve already found their next head coach in Dennis Allen, but they have yet to find a franchise quarterback. 

Either way, the Saints know how to put on a good show in London and they’ll likely do that again this season. While we don’t know who they’ll play or what week they’ll play in London, it’s a game many people are excited for – especially those that follow American football in Europe. 

2. Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals will be the only team playing a 2022 regular season game in Mexico City. The game will be played in Estadio Azteca, which has hosted three games since 2016. The Cardinals were scheduled to play in Mexico City in 2020, but COVID-19 had other plans. 

This won’t be the Cardinals’ first visit to Mexico City. In fact, they made history in 2005 when they played in the first NFL regular season game outside the United States – the game took place in Estadio Azteca, the same stadium they’ll be returning to in 2022. It’ll be exciting. 

The Cardinals ended up winning that 2005 game in Mexico City, defeating the San Francisco 49ers 31-14 in dominant fashion. Josh McCown finished 32/46 for 385 yards, two touchdowns, and zero interceptions. He added 32 yards on the ground and the defense played very well. 

Mexico City has hosted three games in the past six years. The Raiders defeated the Texans in 2016, the Patriots defeated the Raiders in 2017, and the Chiefs defeated the Chargers in 2019. The city is happy to welcome back the NFL and the NFL is equally as excited to finally return.

In addition to their trip to Mexico City in 2005, the Cardinals have played one game in London in 2017. It wasn’t a good performance as they lost 33-0 to the Los Angeles Rams in Twickenham Stadium. The Cardinals haven’t appeared in an international game since that embarrassment. 

The Cardinals have a very talented team to display in Mexico City this season. Kyler Murray is a joy to watch, he has one of the best receiving corps in the league, and they have a defense with some big names. With an entire offseason ahead of us, they’ll only continue to get better. 

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be making history next season, which might help heal the burn of watching Tom Brady retire a month ago. When they take the field at Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany this season, it’ll mark the first ever NFL regular season game in the country. 

The league wants to continue their expansion outward and playing a game in Germany was the next step. The Buccaneers were the logical option, as they already have a very strong fanbase in the Germany community and became the team’s official international home market in 2021. 

The Kansas City Chiefs, Carolina Panthers, and New England Patriots were also granted an International Home Marketing Area (IHMA) in Germany last year. Each of those teams are scheduled to make appearances in Germany over the next few years, which is exciting. 

Although this is the first time the Buccaneers will travel to Germany, it won’t be their first international appearance. They’ve made three international appearances since 2009 and most recently in 2019. Unfortunately, they haven’t fared well and are 0-3 in those London games. 

The Bucs are hoping for much better luck as they prepare for their visit to Germany. They have a lot of fans that they’ll want to play well for, but they’ll have to find a quarterback that can handle this talented offense. The Bucs have one of the best rosters, but Brady retiring left a glaring hole.

With that said, they have plenty of options and shouldn’t have too much of a problem returning to form in 2022. You can’t replace Tom Brady, but there are plenty of players that can help Bruce Arians get the most out of this offense. As for their defense, they’ll be just as strong as ever. 

What’s Next for American Football in Europe?

There’s a lot of future for American football in Europe and the NFL is only just getting started with their international plans. They’ve already played regular season games in two countries (three cities) and will be welcoming its third country when Munich, Germany joins in on the fun. 

With that said, what’s next for the NFL? Well, they have several locations they’re targeting as potential future markets – including Wales, Scotland, Dublin, Rio de Janeiro, China, Australia, and Canada. There’s certainly a lot to look forward to with the annual NFL International Series. 

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And that’s not all of it. There are even talks of one day expanding the league to an international city. That means we could see an NFL team based overseas and the current favorite to be awarded a team is London. That would be something, but don’t expect it to happen soon.

Now That the 2022 NFL International Series Has Come to an End, Let’s Recap the Past 15 NFL Games Played Overseas

The NFL International Series – a series of NFL games played outside the US every year – is a unique and exciting way of exposing American football to parts of the world that are used to a different kind of football. It most recently expanded to Germany for the first time during the 2022 NFL regular season. 

While the NFL International Series was established in 2007, the league has been playing games outside the US since 1926, when they played a game in Canada for the first time. Between 1948 and 1961, the NFL played eight joint games with the CFL and two more exhibition games in Toronto and Montreal. 

The NFL first expanded to Mexico in 1978 – they were originally supposed to play in Mexico in 1968, but the game got canceled. They played a game in Japan for the first time in 1976, London for the first time in 1983, Sweden in 1988, Germany in 1990, Spain in 1993, Ireland in 1997, and Australia in 1999. 

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Recapping the Past 15 NFL International Series’ Games Since 2018

Now That the 2022 NFL International Series Has Come to an End, Let's Recap the Past 15 NFL Games Played Overseas
via Instagram (@buccaneers)

Since 2007, the NFL International Series has played at least one game outside the United States every year – with the exception of 2020, which was hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The series is broken down into three sub-series, each with their own title – London Games, Mexico Games, Germany Games. 

The London Games began in 2007, with the NFL playing 33 games in London ever since. The Mexico Games began in 2016, with the NFL playing four games in Mexico ever since – not including the 2018 game, which was canceled. The Germany Games made its debut this season and will return next year.

Since 2018, the NFL International Series has featured 15 games – five of which occurred in 2022 – in three countries (United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico) and four cities (Wembley, North London, Munich, and Mexico City). Let’s recap what went down in all 15 of the NFL International Series’ games since 2018.

15. Seahawks vs. Raiders in London (2018)

Final Score: Seahawks 27 – 3 Raiders

Player of the Game: Russel Wilson (222 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, 20 yards rushing)

On October 14, 2018, the Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders had a Week 6 matchup in front of 84,922 fans at Wembley Stadium in London. It was almost a shutout victory for the Seahawks, who were up 27-0 entering the fourth quarter. A field goal by the Raiders with eight minutes left ruined the shutout. 

Russell Wilson led the way for Seattle, throwing for 222 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Doug Baldwin finished with 91 yards receiving, while Tyler Lockett, David Moore, and Jaron Brown each had a TD pass from Russ. Derek Carr finished with just 142 yards for the scoreless Raiders’ offense. 

14. Titans vs. Chargers in London (2018)

Final Score: Titans 19 – 20 Chargers

Player of the Game: Philip Rivers (306 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT)

On October 21, 2018, the Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Chargers had a Week 7 matchup in front of 84,301 fans at Wembley Stadium in London. It was a much more thrilling game than the one a week prior, with the Chargers squeaking away with a narrow 20-19 victory – it had everyone on the edge of their seat.

The Titans had a shot to win it all with 31 seconds left. They had just scored a touchdown and were one point away from a tie, two points away from a win. Instead of tying it with an extra point, they attempted a 2-pt conversion for the lead. Unfortunately, the conversion failed and LA walked away victorious. 

13. Eagles vs. Jaguars in London (2018)

Final Score: Eagles 24 – 18 Jaguars

Player of the Game: Carson Wentz (286 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, 28 yards rushing)

On October 28, 2018, the Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars had a Week 8 matchup in front of 85,870 fans at Wembley Stadium in London. Both teams were going back and forth most of the game, but Philly walked away with a 24-18 victory as they limited the Jags to four field goals and one touchdown.

The first half was rather quiet up until Carson Wentz threw a 32-yard touchdown to Dallas Goedert with 30 seconds left – giving the Eagles a 10-6 lead at halftime. Wentz opened the scoring in the second half with a 36-yard pass from Wendell Smallwood and another passing TD to Zach Ertz in the fourth quarter. 

12. Bears vs. Raiders in London (2019)

Final Score: Bears 21 – 24 Raiders

Player of the Game: Josh Jacobs (123 rush yards, 2 rush TD, 20 receiving yards)

On October 6, 2019, the Chicago Bears and Oakland Raiders played a Week 5 matchup in front of 60,463 fans at Tottenham Stadium in London. The Raiders got off to a quick and dominant start, entering halftime with a 17-0 lead behind rushing touchdowns from Josh Jacobs and DeAndre Washington

The third quarter was all Bears with three unanswered TDs – a rushing TD by David Montgomery and two passing TDs from Chase Daniel to Allen Robinson. The Bears had a 21-17 lead throughout the fourth quarter, but a 2-yard rushing TD by Jacobs gave the Raiders a 24-21 lead with two minutes left. 

11. Panthers vs. Buccaneers in London (2019)

Final Score: Panthers 37 – 26 Buccaneers

Player of the Game: Panthers’ Defense (7.0 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 5 INT)

On October 13, 2019, the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers played a Week 6 matchup in front of 60,087 fans at Tottenham Stadium in London. It was a high-scoring bout as both teams kept putting points on the board – at least 10 points (combined) were scored in all four quarters of the game.

The Panthers got off to a 10-0 start in the first quarter and took a 17-7 lead into halftime. They continued to pour it on with another 10 points in the third quarter, taking a 27-10 lead into the final quarter. The Bucs scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Panthers’ onslaught. 

10. Bengals vs. Rams in London (2019)

Final Score: Bengals 10 – 24 Rams

Player of the Game: Cooper Kupp (7 receptions, 220 yards, 1 TD)

On October 27, 2019, the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams played a Week 8 matchup in front of 83,720 fans at Wembley Stadium in London. Things started slow, but the Rams eventually picked up the pace of the game en route to a 24-10 victory for their second NFL International Series win in four tries. 

The game was tied 3-3 early in the 2nd quarter, but Jared Goff threw a 31-yard pass to Josh Reynolds to break the tie. Joe Mixon answered with a TD of his own five minutes later, but the Rams scored two unanswered TDs – a 65-yard pass from Goff to Cooper Kupp and a 3-yard rush by Todd Gurley

9. Texans vs. Jaguars in London (2019)

Final Score: Texans 26 – 3 Jaguars

Player of the Game: Deshaun Watson (201 yards, 2 TD) / Carlos Hyde (160 rushing yards)

On November 3, 2019, the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars played a Week 9 matchup in front of 84,771 fans at Wembley Stadium in London. If it weren’t for a field goal by the Jaguars late in the first half, the Texans would’ve earned a shutout win in their first game in London – instead, they won 26-3. 

The Texans scored three touchdowns in the game, all of which coming from the one-yard line. Duke Johnson scored a one-yard rushing TD, while Deshaun Watson threw two one-yard passing TDs – one to Darren Fells and one to DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans’ defense had four sacks and two interceptions. 

8. Chiefs vs. Chargers in Mexico City (2019)

Final Score: Chiefs 24 – 17 Chargers

Player of the Game: Chiefs’ Defense (2 sacks, 4 INT, 1 forced fumble)

On November 18, 2019, the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers played a Week 11 matchup in front of 76,252 fans at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. It was a well-fought game that featured 41 total points in the first three quarters, but a big fat zero points in the fourth quarter – the Chiefs won by a TD. 

The Chiefs scored the only touchdown of the first half, but the Chargers kept the game close thanks to three field goals. The Chiefs started to pull away in the third quarter, taking a 24-9 lead before LA scored a TD with one minute left in the third quarter. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to complete a comeback. 

7. Jets vs. Falcons in London (2021)

Final Score: Jets 20 – 27 Falcons

Player of the Game: Matt Ryan (342 yards, 2 TD) / Kyle Pitts (9 catches, 119 yards, 1 TD)

On October 10, 2021, the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons played a Week 5 matchup in front of 60,589 fans at Tottenham Stadium in London. The Falcons came out swinging in the first half, taking a 20-3 lead behind two passing touchdowns from Matt Ryan – one to Hayden Hurst and another to Kyle Pitts

Things started to go the Jets’ way in the second half, scoring two unanswered touchdowns to bring the game to 17-20 midway through the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for the Jets, Mike Davis scored a rushing TD with just over two minutes left and it was enough to catapult the Falcons to a seven-point victory. 

6. Dolphins vs. Jaguars in London (2021)

Final Score: Dolphins 20 – 23 Jaguars

Player of the Game: Trevor Lawrence (329 yards, 1 TD) / Marvin Jones (7 catches, 100 yards, 1 TD)

On October 17, 2021, the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars played a Week 6 matchup in front of 60,784 fans at Tottenham Stadium in London. It was a nail-biter that featured two teams going back and forth for four quarters straight – being decided in the closing seconds, with the Jags getting the last laugh.

The Dolphins struck first with a touchdown halfway through the first quarter and held a 13-3 lead late in the second quarter, but the Jags scored a TD with 40 seconds left in the half. After a TD from both teams, the Jaguars tied it up 20-20 with just 3:40 left and kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired. 

5. Vikings vs. Saints in London (2022)

Final Score: Vikings 28 – 25 Saints

Player of the Game: Justin Jefferson (10 catches, 147 yards, 1 rush TD)

On October 2, 2022, the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints played a Week 4 matchup in front of 60,639 fans at Tottenham Stadium in London. The Vikings and Saints were 2-0 in the NFL International Series heading into this game, with the Vikings improving to 3-0 after a last-second 28-25 victory. 

The Vikings were in control most of the game, but the Saints took a 22-19 lead early in the fourth. The Vikings responded with a TD of their own, but the Saints tied it up 25-25 with less than two minutes left. That’s when the Vikings kicked a game-winning field goal with just 24 seconds left, winning it 28-25. 

4. Giants vs. Packers in London (2022)

Final Score: Giants 27 – 22 Packers

Player of the Game: Saquon Barkley (70 rushing yards, 1 rush TD, 36 receiving yards)

On October 9, 2022, the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers played a Week 6 matchup in front of 61,024 fans at Tottenham Stadium in London. It was the Packers’ first game in the NFL International Series and while they held a two-possession lead at halftime, they crumbled in the second half. 

The Packers were up 20-10 at halftime and were still up 20-13 at the end of the third quarter. The fourth quarter belonged to the Giants, scoring back-to-back touchdowns to take a 27-20 lead halfway through the final quarter. The Packers had a safety with 11 seconds left, but struggled to find the endzone. 

3. Broncos vs. Jaguars in London (2022)

Final Score: Broncos 21 – 17 Jaguars

Player of the Game: Broncos’ Defense (2.0 sacks, 2 INT, 1 forced fumble)

On October 30, 2022, the Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars played a Week 8 matchup in front of 86,215 fans at Wembley Stadium in London. Entering the game, Denver was 0-1 in the NFL International Series and Jacksonville was 4-4. It came down to the wire, but Denver won their first game in London.

The Jaguars got off to an early 10-0 lead behind a 22-yard passing TD from Trevor Lawrence, but the Broncos responded with two unanswered touchdowns to take a 14-10 lead at the end of the third. The Jaguars regained the lead with four minutes left, but the Broncos scored a game-winning TD with 1:43 left.

2. Seahawks vs. Buccaneers in Germany (2022)

Final Score: Seahawks 16 – 21 Buccaneers

Player of the Game: Devin White (9 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble)

On November 13, 2022, the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers played a Week 10 matchup in front of 69,811 fans at Allianz Arena in Germany. Entering the game, Tampa Bay was still searching for their first NFL International Series win at 0-3 and Seattle was undefeated in their one international game.

The Buccaneers had a comfortable 14-0 lead at halftime behind touchdowns from Julio Jones and Leonard Fournette. The Seahawks finally broke the shutout in the third quarter, but the Bucs scored early in the fourth to take a 21-3 lead. Seattle scored two TDs late in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough to win. 

1. 49ers vs. Cardinals in Mexico City (2022)

Final Score: 49ers 38 – 10 Cardinals

Player of the Game: Jimmy Garoppolo (228 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT)

On November 21, 2022, the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals played a Week 11 matchup in front of 78,427 fans at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. The 49ers were 2-0 in the NFL International Series entering this game, while the Cardinals were still searching for their first international win at 0-1. 

Unfortunately, the Cardinals didn’t have enough firepower to overcome the 49ers. San Francisco held a 17-10 lead at halftime behind two TDs from Jimmy Garoppolo and scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to blow the game out of proportion – including another two TDs from Garoppolo. 

Much More is to Come of the NFL International Series

With the Green Bay Packers playing a game in London this season, all 32 NFL teams have now played at least one game in the NFL International Series since it was established in 2007. 21 NFL teams have played multiple games in the series, with the Jacksonville Jaguars receiving the most bids at nine games. 

The NFL has plans of expanding the NFL International Series in the coming years, with potential markets including Canada, Dublin, Wales, Scotland, Australia, China, Brazil, Spain, and more. They’ve even discussed the possibility of giving a city outside the US their own expansion team in the near future.

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At the end of the day, we have no idea what to expect out of the NFL International Series in the coming years, which is what makes it so exciting – especially since we know they’re working on expanding it. For now, let’s look forward to what’s ahead in 2023 – which includes London, Mexico City, and Germany.

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