It’s another year, another milestone for the NFL’s growth in the UK.
Two games at Tottenham last year made it 30 to be played in London since the first in 2007.
Only one of the NFL’s 32 teams is yet to make the trip across the Atlantic.
But this year London is finally calling for the Green Bay Packers, winners of a record 13 NFL championships, including the pre-Super Bowl era.
Their game with the New York Giants is the pick of this year’s line-up, with two sell-out games at Tottenham followed by another at Wembley.
They begin with a well-matched contest between two play-off regulars and end with a mouth-watering clash between two very different star quarterbacks.
And after a muted return last year following the Covid-19 pandemic, the NFL’s traditional pre-game festivities are back across the English capital.
Saints make early arrival for Vikings clash
To kick-off this year’s series, the NFL is staging a ‘takeover’ of London’s South Bank, with fan events at four locations before this Sunday’s game, where Yungblud will perform the half-time show.
The Minnesota Vikings face the New Orleans Saints and both teams hope to reach this season’s play-offs after narrowly missing out last year.
The Saints have lost Drew Brees and Sean Payton – their Super Bowl-winning quarterback and coach from 2010 – in the space of 12 months.
And they may have started the season with a 1-2 record but new coach Dennis Allen has reiterated his support for quarterback Jameis Winston, who still has some big-name offensive threats at his disposal in Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas.
The Saints flew straight to London after Sunday’s defeat at the Carolina Panthers, while Minnesota are 2-1 under their new coach Kevin O’Connell, who was offensive coordinator for last season’s Super Bowl winners, the Los Angeles Rams.
Kirk Cousins has been one of the NFL’s most consistent quarterbacks in recent years, while wide receiver Justin Jefferson and running back Dalvin Cook have been two of the best in their positions, so there will be plenty of attacking talent on show at Tottenham.
Rodgers primed for second Super Bowl win?
Just like last season, there’ll be games on back-to-back Sundays at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the only purpose-built NFL stadium outside North America.
And it seems fitting that Green Bay’s British bow comes against the Giants on 9 October. Not only are they another of the NFL’s best-known teams but it was they who won that first London game back in 2007.
Since the Packers last won the Super Bowl in 2011, Aaron Rodgers has been the league’s MVP four times, including the last two seasons. Yet a second Super Bowl ring continues to elude the 38-year-old.
He’s getting closer. Matt LaFleur has had the most wins by a head coach in their first three seasons in the NFL, with the Packers enjoying three straight 13-win seasons, but they have come up short in the play-offs.
Although Green Bay let their top receiver Davante Adams leave and lost their season opener to the Vikings, they are now 2-1 after beating the Chicago Bears and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the past two weeks.
The Giants have reached the play-offs just once since winning their fourth Super Bowl in 2012, but things are looking up for the Big Blue.
They won their first two games under new coach Brian Daboll before losing to the Dallas Cowboys on Monday, and running back Saquon Barkley now seems to have fully recovered from the torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in 2020.
Future star faces Super Bowl-winning veteran at Wembley
The Jacksonville Jaguars are regular visitors to the UK. They have played in every London series since 2013 and have committed to playing a home game at Wembley each year through to 2024.
This year’s game is against the Denver Broncos on 30 October and UK fans will be expecting another cracker after last year’s trip.
The Jaguars fought back to beat the Miami Dolphins with the last kick of the game and give their number one draft pick Trevor Lawrence the first win of his career.
Seen as a ‘generational talent’, the 22-year-old quarterback had a difficult rookie year, with the Jaguars sacking coach Urban Meyer after just 13 games and again finishing with the league’s worst record, 3-14.
But under new coach Doug Pederson, who led the Philadelphia Eagles to Super Bowl glory in 2018, they look to be turning the corner as they are currently 2-1, with Lawrence having already thrown half as many touchdown passes as last season (six).
After calling time on his spell with the Seahawks to join the Broncos in one of the most valuable trades in NFL history, Russell Wilson might have expected a frosty reception when he returned to Seattle for his Denver debut.
But also getting booed before half-time of Denver’s home opener definitely wasn’t in the script. The Broncos laboured to a win over the Houston Texans, then another over the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday.
Wilson, 33, is a Super Bowl-winning quarterback and if he can get the Denver offence firing, he could lead the Broncos to the play-offs for the first time since winning their third Super Bowl in 2016 and finally give them a long-term successor to Peyton Manning.
And the milestones keep coming for the NFL as this year’s international games don’t end there.
As the league continues its global expansion, a regular season game will be played in Germany for the first time, with Tom Brady’s Buccaneers facing the Seahawks in Munich on 13 November.
The NFL then returns to Mexico for the first time in three years, as the 49ers face the Arizona Cardinals on 21 November, taking the international series back up to its pre-pandemic peak of five games in 2019.