Last Thursday afternoon was the announcement for the 2018 NFL teams coming to London and it provoked plenty of comment and interest.
The first thing to notice is a reduction in games from 4 to 3 with the reasoning being a ‘soft launch’ at Tottenham Hotspur as they open their new ground later this year and it’s looks to be a spectacular experience for the supporter including a purpose built retractable pitch specifically for the NFL, with the future very much in mind here.
Wembley then host the two final games with the exact dates to be confirmed once the season schedules are formalised in April. Twickenham appears to have hosted it’s final NFL game as both Wembley, through the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tottenham have exclusive contracts for years to come.
3 of the 6 teams have not yet travelled to London for a game, those being Seattle, Tennessee and Philadelphia while the Chargers appeared in game 2 as San Diego. The Seahawks and Raiders will be the opening game at New White Hart Lane, both coming off disappointing seasons and will be playing in another milestone game for the NFL.
At the time of writing there is a potential chance that the Eagles – Jaguars match up could be a repeat of this years Superbowl with both franchises contesting Championship games this coming Sunday and even if it isn’t it promises to be the best of the three games.
The Chargers were a game or two away from making the play-offs after a sluggish start and the Titans were knocked out just last weekend by 5 times winners, the New England Patriots. All of these teams have recent good pedigree’s and should make for some interesting games. They all have a lot to follow as the 4 winners from this season’s games all made the post season, so no pressure!
A lot has been said about the drop from 4 games to 3, and despite the success of the 4 winners in London this season, the line up’s last year lacked imagination in most opinions, but when the franchise hits London permanently it’s not going to be the best teams week in, week out, so in my opinion last year was partly about preparation and they all still sold out! Also, they want every team to experience the logistics and vibrancy coming to London brings to each organisation. Only Green Bay, Carolina and Houston have not played in London, sensible money would see them here in 2019.
This year, there is more quality in the teams coming across, but saying all that any of these teams could have a nightmare start and be out of the play off race by the time they hit these shores. So it shouldn’t be seen as a backwards step as some have suggested, if there are teething problems at Spurs that could well happen for a second game, and the fact it’s a long term investment for both Tottenham and the NFL it’s the sensible thing to do.