NFL International Series 2021: Everything you need to know before London games

NFL quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Tua Tagovailoa and Matt Ryan
LR: Jaguars Trevor Lawrence, Jets’ Zach Wilson, Miami starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and Atlanta veteran Matt Ryan will hope to guide their team to success on London soil this month
Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Jets at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Date: Sunday, October 10th Kick-off 14:30 BST Coverage: Extended TV highlights, video clips and live text commentary (TV highlights available from 22:05 BST on Red Button, BBC Sport website and app and BBC One and iPlayer from 00:35 Monday)
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Miami Dolphins at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium Date: Sunday, October 17th Kick-off 14:30 BST Coverage: Live on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer from 14:00, plus live text comments

The NFL returns to London after a two-year interval with the thirst for gridiron as strong as ever in the UK and back-to-back matches taking place at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The New York Jets first take on the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, before a Florida derby arrives in London a week later with the Jacksonville Jaguars hosting the famous Miami Dolphins.

Ticket sales have still been strong, although there will not be as many US fans flying over due to Covid-19 restrictions, and although the usual off-field events may be more subdued, the level of excitement is still to take and feel on among British NFL fans who are desperate to see their heroes in the flesh again.

Players and coaches embrace the matches, but it’s far more of a business travel mood these days, with teams usually only arriving on Friday and returning just after the match. With the added pandemic factor, a flying visit makes even more sense this year.

Covid is still present where the odd player is missing games here and there, but the NFL has done a much better job of getting players vaccinated with numbers published by the league on October 7, stating that 93.3% of the players had been vaccinated.external link

It is in stark contrast to less than half of Premier League and EFL footballers get the plug.

Rookie quarterbacks to light up in London?

The Jaguars and Jets were possibly the two worst teams in the NFL last season, but that enabled them to make the top two picks in April’s draft, as selection of quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson to lead their revivals.

Lawrence is hailed as the best rookie QB of a generation, but he has the hardest job on a team that needs a complete overhaul, and with college coaching legend Urban Meyer has a sticky start to his first NFL job.external link

Having already lost as many games in the NFL than he did throughout his college and high school career, Lawrence must do better, but there have been some promising signs. Against a struggling Miami, he can show London what he’s really made of.

Wilson has what NFL experts call “major arm talent” in that he can really let it fly, as he showed when he threw the most yards a Jets QB has managed in two years in their impressive victory over Tennessee on Sunday.

The 22-year-old may have been the second choice, but he is on a better team and is showing more promise right now of being number one on the performance lists in London over the next two Sundays.

Visitors to London are traditionally fighters

Of the 28 matches played in London since 2007, there has never been a game involving two teams with a winning record, and before the first match this year, the four franchises to play in the British capital together 3-13. The Jaguars are 0-4 and on a desperate 19-game losing streak overall.

The Jets and Jaguars combined just three wins last season and are at the start of a major rebuilding process, something that looks much smoother in New York than Jacksonville thanks to Jets coach Robert Saleh not attracting negative pressexternal link his opposite number Meyer has.

Atlanta has a star veteran quarterback in Matt Ryan, but not much else due to some serious salary cap issues that have seen the talent pool in their squad reduced significantly.

Among the many problems for the Jets and Falcons, the standout problems are clear – the Jets have scored the fewest points in the league (47), while the Falcons have conceded the most (128).

More of a mystery is the Dolphins, who first just missed the playoffs last season with a record of 10-6 and have a team that is decent enough to go a step further. They would be the only one of four you could see run if they could get their quarterback Tua Tagovailoa healthy back and play well again.

The Jaguars are still London’s team – but a team in London is still unlikely

Jaguars are regular visitors to London, and at one point it seemed that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was determined to see a permanent franchise hosted in the UK.

Four matches a year were held in London in 2017 and 2019 to simulate half of a regular season, and many owners in the league stood behind the plan and felt it was inevitable despite the many logistical problems.

However, it now appears that there has been a change in strategy as the NFL looks set to become completely global, with the league looking to Germany to host one of the four matches to be played outside the United States. annual. Two stay in London and the other stays in Mexico.

All 32 teams also get the chance to embark on a marketing flash in fixed locations around the world to drum up more and more loyal fans. Getting fans to support a team rather than just the league is seen as the key to cultivating the sport – and that seems to have taken precedence over having a team in London permanently.

However, the Jaguars remain London’s adopted side for now, and their fans have built with their continued presence in the British Games. However, this popularity will be put to the test against the Dolphins – who is the most popular NFL team in the UK, according to a YouGov poll conducted this summer.external link

A Florida derby played in north London is still a sign that this is a sport that is still on the rise.

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