🏈 8 teams, 4 games, 2 stadiums – NFL London is back for 2019 for a tour that includes a two fixtures at the brand new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. A limited amount of tickets are available.
By Jack Nevill
American Football first graced our shores with the ill-fated sojourn of NFL Europe in the 1980’s. An entertaining but doomed project, it sparked the fire of interest in the sport in this country and set the table for the international series in 2007.
12 years, and 24 games later, with mostly sellout crowds, we arrive in 2019 with a sparkling new stadium to call home for NFL London; with 4 more games split between 2 venues.
Tottenham Hotspur’s majestic new crucible of sporting theatre will play host to the “other” type of football, hosting the first 2 games of the NFL international series of 2019.
Match 2 of NFL London – Sunday 13 October at 2.30pm
The second contest at Spurs new stadium is a cracking divisional matchup between the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
After a season largely affected by the lingering injury issues of quarterback Cam Newton, the Panthers will be looking to recapture the form of 2015 that saw them storm to the Super Bowl on the back of a 15-1 record. Making their first trip to London, they will be hoping to avoid failing in their maiden trip.
While the Buccaneers have been to London before, it was back in 2011, so for all intents and purposes, this should be an even contest. Carolina brings with them a hugely talented roster spearheaded by Newton and star linebacker Luke Kuechly, along with an infusion of new and exciting offensive players like Christian McCaffrey, Curtis Samuel and D.J Moore.
The innovation of veteran offensive coordinator Norv Turner breathed new life into the Panthers offense in 2018, which had long been Newton’s one-man show. The defense should be as stout as ever under the stewardship of head coach Ron Rivera, and the exciting addition of British defensive end Efe Obada, who exploded onto the scene in 2018. Tampa Bay have endured significant disappoint in the years since Jameis Winston was drafted to be the savior of the franchise and the herald of success in the future. The next iteration of this sees 2 time coach of the year Bruce Arians taking the reins and attempting to steer the ship towards the playoffs. A win in London over their division rivals would be a great help to their cause.
Players to watch:
Carolina Panthers: The one-man offensive machine Cam Newton has been the talisman for the Panthers since his sensational rookie season. Through ups and downs throughout his career he has remained one of the most exciting players in NFL History and there is no reason he will not continue to be so. The latest in a recent string of English players making their mark across the pond, including Jack Crawford, Menelik Watson and Jay Ajayi, Efe Obada became a valuable member of the Panthers defensive line rotation in 2018. No doubt he will be looking at the London game to showcase his immense talents to a home crowd.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Best known as the sidekick to Johnny Manziel while at college, Mike Evans has transcended that label to become one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. With a combination of his huge 6”5 frame and long striding speed, he has gone about dominating NFL defensive backs since 2014.
🗝️ Doors open: 1pm
🏈 Kick-off: 2.30pm
🎟️ Tickets in advance are available via the ‘Get Tickets’ link.
🎟️ Tickets on the door subject to availability. Checking the NFL UK Twitter feed before travelling is recommended.
🚊🚗 Travel tips: See the Tottenham Hotspur ‘Getting Here‘ guide for full information.
Match 1 of NFL London – Sunday 6 October at 6pm
RESULT! Oakland Raiders 24-21 Chicago Bears: Congratulations to the Raiders who, inspired by rookie running back Josh Jacobs, caused an upset in a thrilling match to kick-off the NFL London series in 2019.
First up the Oakland Raiders face the Chicago Bears. Following a disappointing but not entirely surprising 4-12 last term, the first under returning head coach Jon Gruden, the Raiders looked to spark their revival by trading for volatile superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown. Brown paired with the battery of young rookies acquired with the assets from the trade of their own superstar Khalil Mack a year previous, to their opponents in this game no less, will be thinking playoffs or bust in 2019. Despite being on the end of a hiding from the Seahawks in London last year, the experience should put them in good stead this time around.
Fortunes could not have been much different for their opponents Chicago, with the exact reverse of Oakland’s record at 12-4, winning their division and making the playoffs. If not for a heartbreaking missed field goal, the Bears would have advanced beyond the wild card round of the playoffs under rookie head coach Matt Nagy. The Bears will certainly be expecting improvement from their young Quarterback Mitchell Trusbisky, with the hope being this will raise them to even higher levels than last year.
So often in the London fixtures, the team that has been exposed to it in the past holds the advantage, so despite the fairly sizeable talent gap between the two sides, a Raiders win might not be a crazy thought.
Players to watch:
Raiders: With a roster full of young players, only one name truly stands out. The mercurial superstar Antonio Brown is the most reliably box office player the Raiders possess. Supreme talent and an eccentric personality blend naturally to make Brown immeasurably watchable.
Bears: Ignoring the advice of countless pundits that trading away your best player is not a good idea, the Raiders did just that when they sent transcendent pass rusher Khalil Mack to the Chicago Bears before the start of last season. Predictably, the Raiders struggled mightily to generate pressure, while Mack dominated whenever he played for Chicago. He will no doubt be licking his lips at the prospect of terrorising the team that deemed him surplus to requirements.