NFL International Series 2021: All you need to know before London games

L-R: Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars' Zach Wilson, the Jets’ Zach Wilson, and Tua Tagovailoa, Miami's starting quarterback. Atlanta veteran Matt Ryan hopes to lead their teams to success in London this month.
You can watch the 2021 NFL International Series live on BBC Atlanta Falcons v New York Jets, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Date: Sunday October 10, 2018 Kick-off at 14:30 BST. Live coverage on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer starting at 14:00. Plus live text commentary

After a gap of two years, the NFL will be back in London with a strong desire for the gridiron and back-toback games at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

The New York Jets will take on the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. A week later, a Florida derby takes place in London with the Jacksonville Jaguars hosting Miami Dolphins.

Even though Covid-19 restrictions will mean that there won't be as many American fans flying to the UK, ticket sales are still strong. The excitement is still palpable among UK NFL fan who want to see their heroes live.

Although players and coaches love the games, it's more business-trip atmosphere. Teams usually arrive on Friday and return right after the game. A flying visit is even more sensible this year, given the pandemic.

Covid is still present, with some players missing games. However, the NFL has done a better job of getting players vaccinated. The league published figures on 7 October showing that 93.3% had been vaccinated. External-link

This contrasts with the fact that less than half of Premier League or EFL footballers get the jab.

London's rookie quarterbacks will shine!

The Jets and Jaguars were the worst two teams in the NFL last year, but they managed to pick the top two picks of April's draft in Zach Wilson and Trevor Lawrence to lead their revivals.

Lawrence is regarded as the greatest rookie quarterback of his generation, but he faces the most difficult job on a team that needs a major overhaul. Urban Meyer, a college coach legend, has had a bumpy start to his first NFL job. External-link

Lawrence has lost more games in the NFL than he did during his college and high school careers. However, there are some encouraging signs. He can prove London his worth against a struggling Miami.

Wilson is a "major arm talent," as NFL experts refer to it. He can let it fly and he did so when he threw the most yards of any Jets quarterback in two years during their win over Tennessee.

Although he was the second pick, the 22-year old is now on a stronger team and shows more promise to be the number one player in the London performance charts over the next two Sundays.

Londoners are typically struggling to get by.

There have been 28 London games since 2007, but there has not been a single game in which two teams have a winning record. Before this year's first game, the four franchises that will be playing in London are 3-13. The Jaguars are currently 0-4 with a miserable 19-game losing streak.

The Jaguars and Jets won only three games last season. They are now in the midst of major rebuilding. This is thanks to Robert Saleh, the Jets coach, not drawing negative media external-link Meyer received.

Atlanta has a veteran quarterback in Matt Ryan, but they don't have much else because of serious problems with their salary cap. This means that the talent pool for Atlanta has decreased58854297 substantially.

The Jets and Falcons both have many problems, but the main issues are obvious: the Jets have scored only 47 points while the Falcons have surrendered 128, which is the lowest in league.

The Dolphins are more mysterious than ever. They have a decent enough team to make it all the way to the playoffs and only missed out on the play-offs with a record of 10-6 last season. If Tua Tagovailoa, their quarterback, is healthy again, they could be the only team you can see making a run.

Jaguars remain London's team, but it remains highly unlikely that a team IN London will be formed.

Regular visitors to London, the Jaguars were once again there. It was believed that Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner, wanted to see a permanent NFL franchise in the UK.

In 2017 and 2019, four games were held in London to replicate half of a regular season. Many owners were supportive of the plan and believed it was possible despite many logistical challenges.

The NFL is now looking to go global with one of its four games being played outside the USA every year. This seems to have caused a shift in strategy. One of the two remaining games will be in London while the other one will remain in Mexico.

Each of the 32 teams will be offered the opportunity to go on a marketing campaign in different locations around the world to get more fans. Supporting a team, rather than the league, is key to the growth of the sport. This seems to have been more important than having a London team permanently.

For now, the Jaguars will be London's preferred side. Their popularity has been growing with their presence at UK games. The Dolphins, the most beloved NFL team in the UK according to YouGov polls, will test that popularity. External-link

It is encouraging to see a Florida derby in London, a sign of the sport's continued growth.