Trio Of Rookie QB’s Set For London As International Series Games Confirmed

By Simon Carroll

Happy schedule release day! What in every other sport might fly under the radar has, in classic NFL style, been turned into a yearly event. As you read this, 32 social media teams are priming themselves for the biggest day of their season, the ultimate peacocking opportunity ahead of them before the league really does go into a small hibernation before training camp begins at the end of July.

As is tradition, some games have already been leaked – but for the full schedule release, we must wait until 8pm ET (or 1am in the morning for us this side of the Atlantic) to find out the complete itinerary of the 2024 campaign. That said, Peter Schrager, Kyle Brandt and co of ‘Good Morning Football’ fame were able to exclusively announce this year’s 2024 International Series games earlier today, which of course includes three contests in London. Here are the matchups we can look forward to on home soil this year:

The Games:

Week 5: New York Jets @ Minnesota Vikings (Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Sunday 6th October, 2:30pm)

Week 6: Jacksonville Jaguars @ Chicago Bears (Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Sunday 13th October, 2:30pm)

Week 7: New England Patriots @ Jacksonville Jaguars (Wembley Stadium, Sunday 20th October, 2:30pm)

Excited? Yes? No? Here are some takeaways from this year’s London schedule:

International Marketing Rights Starting To Bear Weight

Traditionally, teams with interest in playing an international series game had to be sought out, cajoled by the league into making a trip they didn’t want to make. Not so much any more, as franchises have come to learn of the financial benefits of making their mark in other countries. Recently, teams were allocated international marketing rights across nineteen different nations – and it’s no coincidence that they are sending them to those markets. The Giants and Panthers both hold rights in Germany, where they will play each other in Week 10. Meanwhile, out of the five teams visiting the UK, only the Patriots don’t have those rights to that market – although they do in Austria, Switzerland and Germany, who have often sent fans across Europe to enjoy the games.

Nothing like the lucrative opportunity of raising your profile in a growing market to change your attitude to expanding the game, right?

Rookie QB's Take Centre Stage

If you’re a fan of the NFL Draft, you might be VERY excited for this year’s international series. Already aware that the Vikings and the Bears would be hosting a game in London in 2024, we knew last month that we were in line to witness both Caleb Williams and JJ McCarthy in their debut seasons. What we now also know is that they will be joined by Drake Maye, meaning three of the first five QB’s off the board in the draft will showcase their talents to the British crowd.

These young signal callers come with some hype. Williams was the number one overall pick, a talent so prestigious that Chicago decided to move on from Justin Fields before they’d even taken him. Maye is a real gunslinger who might only have six games under his belt before taking on the Jaguars at Wembley. And McCarthy, who has some doubter after having something of an easy ride at Michigan, is in line to go up against Aaron Rodgers – should he beat out Sam Darnold, who could face his former team. By the time October rolls around, we may still have more questions than answers when it comes to these three quarterbacks.

Jaguars Go Back To Back - Again

As a commissioner, Roger Goodell has not been shy in voicing his opinion that an overseas NFL Franchise is an objective of the league’s. To that end, he has been gauging interest in international markets, first by increasing the number of games in London, then testing interest in one franchise – namely the Jacksonville Jaguars. Playing here every year has made the Jags ‘London’s team’, and despite more seasoned fan’s reluctance to switch allegiances has seen a growth in black and teal jerseys in the stands. Last year, they had them play back to back games in the capital, firstly a home game against the Falcons before an away game against the Bills.

It was obviously a success. Not only did Jacksonville win both games, but it was well received – and the league has decided to do the same again in 2024. Make no mistake, this is another step towards making the sport global. This year, the Jags are ‘on the road’ at Spurs first against the Bears, before ‘hosting’ the Patriots at their second home of Wembley Stadium. They may be favourites in both of those contests – could the Jags make it five wins out of their last six London games?

Returning Favourites

The Jets have a staunch UK fanbase, and so will be warmly received for their third visit to the UK. They currently hold a 1-1 record after beating the Dolphins in 2015 before falling to the Falcons in 2021. The Bears are also set for their third London game, last here five years ago where they lost to the Raiders. They’ll be looking for their first win in Europe since Jay Cutler took down the Buccaneers 13 years ago.

Three seems to be the magic number. After playing in two of the first six Wembley games, the Patriots have not been back – until now. They’ll be keen to maintain their 100% record in the UK – but they’re not the most successful team in England. That award goes to the Vikings, who have won all of their previous three games over here (beating the Steelers, Browns and Saints). Outside of the Jaguars, only the Dolphins have played in the UK more than Minnesota (five times), but Miami have only headed home victorious once.

Still Waiting For The Marquee Matchup

I’m not an International Series hater. I firmly reside in the ‘we should be grateful for what we get’ crowd, and even get pangs of guilt every once in a while for taking one eighth (or sometimes one ninth in a 17 game schedule) of a US home fan’s season away from them. But there’s no denying that these games lack some serious sizzle. No divisional matchup this year, no real Super Bowl contender (probably). And certainly no game where you can be assured of a spectacle, although it is fair to acknowledge that we don’t know how some of these teams will look by October.

With the NFL dropping leaks about the Ravens at the Chiefs for the season opener, somehow the Patriots facing the Jaguars doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. But the beauty about football is, you never know when a good game is going to come your way. Here’s hoping that lightning strikes three times in a row in London this season.

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A huge thank you to Bryce for taking the time to talk to us. Everyone at The Touchown wishes him well in his future career.