This off-season is going fast, isn’t it?
The NFL will announce the full details of each international game this Wednesday for London, Munich and Mexico City. Naturally, it is time to give some final predictions ahead of the announcement. Please note, these are independent predictions and any NFL statement is final this Wednesday.
The Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints & Jacksonville Jaguars are already confirmed to play in London this season, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play in Munich and the Arizona Cardinals will play in Mexico City.
This upcoming season sees an added focus on the international market, with the introduction of the new NFL International marketing agreement - The International Home Marketing Areas (IHMA). We really seen the start of this during the NFL Draft last weekend, where multiple picks were made in the UK and Europe.
Game 1: Green Bay Packers - New York Giants
Date prediction: Sunday October 9th, 2022
Around 2:24pm on February 28th, I received a text ‘Green Bay. London’. I genuinely thought it was a joke. Six minutes later, it was officially announced and I was speechless. The Green Bay Packers will play in London as a home team, which will complete the ‘set’ of NFL franchises playing in the UK Capital. Since this was announced, it has been absolutely crazy to say the least and I would argue that this game is one of the hottest sporting tickets in Europe this year. We were fortunate to speak with Green Bay Packers CEO Mark Murphy shortly after the announcement (watch here) and I believe that Green Bay will play in London sometime before Week 4-6 of the 2022 NFL season, with the date announced this week.
I predict that the New York Giants are the best possibility as the away team in London. The Giants organisation are very interested in playing overseas again. On a recent episode of the ‘Zona Gigantes’ podcast, Pat Leonard noted the interest to play in London. The New York Giants are due to visit the Packers this year, so this is a possibility.
Game 2: New Orleans Saints - Minnesota Vikings
Date prediction: Sunday October 16th, 2022
For the last few months, Twitter has been a fun, fun place when it comes to predicting the New Orleans Saints opponent. I predicted the Bengals back in February, noting that I did not think the Saints management would want to have the Bengals game in New Orleans due to Joe Burrow and Ja'Marr Chase and the LSU connection, potentially turning this into a Cincinnati Bengals home game!
I am now back tracking on this. I predict on Wednesday that the Minnesota Vikings will be announced as the New Orleans Saints opponent, with the game taking place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in Week 4-5 of the 2022 NFL Season. The Minnesota Vikings have selected the UK as a IHMA and have placed a great onus on the development of the UK market. For neutral fans, this game would be a really interesting prospect. Of course, the Bengals - Saints wouldn't be bad either!
Game 3: Jacksonville Jaguars - Denver Broncos
Date prediction: Sunday October 30th, 2022
I am not going to hide the fact that I am a Denver Broncos fan. It is common knowledge that the game against the Atlanta Falcons in 2020 was a lock (Not Drew) before COVID-19 resulted in the game being played in the United States. I predict that the Denver Broncos will be announced as the away team this week, to face the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium at the end of October. The Jacksonville Jaguars stadium is hosting a college football game this weekend and this date could suit both teams with a potential bye week at the start of November.
The Denver Broncos organisation openly brought up the prospect of the London game at the NFL owners meetings recently and produced detailed video content speculating a return to London. With the addition of Russell Wilson, it would be a game that could work well for the NFL in London. The Broncos plan to grow in Mexico with a heavy marketing campaign underway. I expect them to play in Mexico as a home team in the next 2-3 years, but I think this year is finally the year for London Town.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Seattle Seahawks
Date prediction: Sunday November 13th, 2022
I can’t wait to visit Munich. As a fan, I am happy with any team that the Tampa Bay Bucs may play. There was heavy speculation with Kansas City as they are also involved with the IHMA - but Tom Brady is back in as QB for the Bucs (remember that?!) and I just don’t think we are at that point yet where US broadcasters/NFL teams are confident to take a high profile game such as Brady-Mahomes to Germany. I hope that it happens, but I am just pessimistic.
Looking at the schedule for the Bucs, I predict that the Seattle Seahawks will travel to Munich this November. There is a large supporter base of Seattle fans in Germany and this game could suit the market well. I expect the Kansas City Chiefs, New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers to play in Germany over the next 3-4 years as part of the IMHA.
Arizona Cardinals - San Francisco 49ers
Date prediction: Monday November 21st, 2022
The Arizona Cardinals are heading to Mexico City this season and I believe that the San Francisco 49ers are the best team to predict as their opponents, only due to Twitter and certain leaks about a potential MNF game in Mexico. This is all TBC, but that is my prediction!
Regardless what happens this week, the prospect of three London games, a Munich game and a Mexico City game is great news for international fans of the NFL. I look forward to the day that we see a game in Croke Park - anything is possible.