After a year-long hiatus, the NFL is scheduled to return to London this season. The four teams making the trip across the pond are the Jets, the Falcons, the Dolphins and the Jaguars.
At first glance, the games don’t appear that eye-catching. The Jags, the Falcons and the Jets were three of the worst five teams in the league last year. However, if you take a closer look, there’s plenty of reasons to be excited to see these four teams face off on the British gridiron.
With that said, which game should you prioritise watching?
Jets vs Falcons
- Date: 10 October 2021
- Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
- Time: 14:30pm BST
While both these sides had poor seasons last year, they’ve re-upped and improved their rosters ahead of the 2021 season. Stars on show for the Jets include the second overall pick Zach Wilson, defensive stud Quinnen Williams, and many exciting young receivers such as Denzel Mims and rookie Elijah Moore. You can find out more about the Jets’ exciting 2021 draft class here.
Wilson is clearly the biggest draw here. A quarterback renowned for his tendency to throw deep and take big gambles in the passing game, Wilson has the ability to be box office. In his final season at BYU, Wilson threw for 3692 yards, 33 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. Without playing a snap in the NFL yet, Wilson has the talent that would be a treat to see for Brits, especially so early in his career.
Complimented by two young receivers in Moore and Mims, the Jets coming to London presents a chance for the British fan to witness one of the most mouth-watering young cores in the NFL.
On the Falcons side of the ball, the offensive talent is almost too good to turn down. An offence comprised of veteran quarterback Matt Ryan, the transcendent wide receiver Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and rookie selection Kyle Pitts is sure to be a feast for the eyes.
At the quarterback position, the Falcons present an inverse of the Jets. With Matt Ryan under-centre, British fans will be able to witness a borderline Hall-of-Famer sling the pigskin. The potential of Wilson is exciting, but it is complemented incredibly by Ryan’s experience and sure-fire play at quarterback.
At age 35, ‘Matty Ice’ still has a solid few years left in him. Last season, Ryan threw for 4581 yards, 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Even in a year where Julio Jones missed a considerable amount of games and the defence was in disarray, Ryan continued to produce. This makes Ryan’s potential link-up with Kyle Pitts even more exciting.
Off the field and on the sideline, this game presents an enticing matchup of coaches. Both Robert Saleh in New York and Art Smith in Atlanta will be rookie head coaches, but they differ in their specialities.
Robert Saleh’s defensive playcalling will surely make up for the lack of superstars on the Jets defence. Moreover, you’re sure to get the full Saleh experience witnessing his energy and passion on the sideline in person.
In contrast to Saleh, Art Smith is an offensive specialist having masterminded the impressive Titans offence of the last couple of seasons. Smith’s offence is predicated on play-action, a consistent, punishing ground game and the odd deep shot. Although Smith had offensive talent in Tennessee with Derrick Henry, Jonnu Smith and A.J. Brown, the Falcons skill position talent is on another level and is sure to produce in London.
Jags vs Dolphins
Although this matchup lacks the accomplished, proven maestro at quarterback, there are plenty of reasons to believe that this game will warrant the trip.
- Date: 17 October 2021
- Location: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
- Time: 14:30pm BST
Trevor Lawrence has a good chance of being the most complete quarterback to enter the NFL since Andrew Luck. The level of talent Lawrence possess is so high that for several months ahead of the draft, there was zero conversation about who the Jaguars were picking. No rumbles, no rumours, no second-guesses. If Andrew Luck had not retired early, there was a good chance he was going to the Hall of Fame. The chance to see Trevor Lawrence in his rookie year is an offer that you won’t be blamed for taking up.
Outside of Lawrence, the Jags do possess some exciting young talent. On the defensive side of the ball, you have stud defensive lineman Josh Allen (no, not the quarterback) and K’Lavon Chaisson. Despite having somewhat of a disappointing rookie year, I think Chaisson has a good chance of breaking out in his sophomore season as the Jags defence moves to a blitz heavy philosophy this season.
On the Dolphins side of the ball, the talent is less eye-catching but still there. Jaylen Waddle is an electrifying receiver who is capable of flipping a game on its head. However, the Dolphins quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, is an enticing watch for less than obvious reasons. Despite being his sophomore season, 2021 could be make or break for Tua. The quarterback did shine in some spots last year but was thoroughly outplayed by veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick. So much so that Tua was regularly checked out of games for Fitzpatrick whenever things got tough. The Fitzpatrick safety blanket won’t be there for Tua in London and seeing him up close in person will be fascinating.
Another rookie head coach will be making the trip across the pond in Urban Meyer. Meyer enjoyed great success in college football, being one of the only two coaches in the history of college football to win national championships at multiple schools. Meyer is a question mark in NFL terms, but that only makes it more exciting to see his team in person.
At this point, we know who Brian Flores is. The Bill Belichick disciple has weathered the storm in Miami and is on the way to creating a formidable franchise.
Being agonizingly close to securing a playoff spot in 2020, Flores is determined to reach the postseason and cement his position in the NFL as one of the more competent coaches in the league. Flores may not be jumping around the sideline like Robert Saleh, but he is a passionate and concerted figure on the sideline.
Choosing an NFL London game
Both games present mouth-watering viewing options for us overseas fans. Not only fans from the UK will make the pilgrimage to London, but fans from all over Europe too. While we only have two games this year as opposed to three, and while the teams at first glance may not be that attractive, there are multiple exciting options.
With both games, you have the option of seeing two young quarterbacks with bags of potential at the start of their careers.
When Trevor Lawrence is putting on that gold jacket in 2045, it’ll be cool to say that you saw him play in London during his rookie year. Likewise, Wilson.
This choice ultimately comes down to Wilson or Lawrence, which one would you prefer to see? And honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong either way.
For fans new to the sport, check out our guide to choosing an NFL team.