The NFL released the 2019 International schedule in full on Monday morning in the wake of the Super Bowl matchup between the Patriots and Rams being set and it will feature a whole lot of new blood heading over to London, as well as a spicy AFC West matchup in Mexico.
The Chiefs are hosting in Mexico this year, after seeing their 2018 Mexico game against the Rams , and they will welcome a division rival, as the Chargers will join them south of the border for an AFC West showdown. That’s sort of a huge benefit for Philip Rivers and Co: they’ve had to battle the Chiefs for the last two years not just in Arrowhead, but in their tiny little soccer stadium that typically features a crowd that sounds like a smaller, second Chiefs home game.
So that’s a pretty huge advantage, assuming the game can actually be played in Mexico. Maybe don’t schedule Shakira right before this one, Stadium Azteca.
The other four games in the International Series are all London games and two of them features at least one first-time team on the slate across the pond.
Buccaneers vs. Panthers
Tampa has tons of ties overseas, thanks to the Glazer family owning Manchester United. The Panthers have no such ties, but with new ownership in the form of David Tepper, are no longer restricted to playing their games on American soil. Imagine Jerry Richardson’s reaction if and when he was unable to find a 72-gallon Bojangles’ sweet tea in London before his game. It just wasn’t happening, but Tepper is taking the Panthers down new paths, which will include a London game.
Jacksonville is a staple in London, with owner Shad Khan helping them become the de facto home team, playing at least one game on foreign soil each year. It is likely that London fans will be forced to miss their annual taste of Sir Blake Bortles, however. The Texans will be a new feature for this year’s slate as well, and, along with the Panthers, will bring the total of NFL teams who have played in London to 31. The only team who hasn’t played overseas? The Green Bay Packers. This is the seventh-straight year the Jaguars have had a home game in London.
There has been some buzz about the Raiders playing ALL their home games in London but that seems like a lot to ask of not just the Raiders, but their opponents. Instead, how about a standalone game in which the Raiders have to play against Khalil Mack, who they traded before the 2018 season to Chicago? That should be fun for Derek Carr and Jon Gruden.
Rams vs. Bengals
We won’t know whether Zac Taylor is going to be the Bengals head coach for a few more weeks now (officially anyway) because the Rams advanced to the Super Bowl. But this could very well be a delightful little mentor vs. grasshopper matchup between Sean McVay and Taylor. Not to mention, London could get the defending Super Bowl champions. That would be a major coup for the NFL if it sent the Rams across the pond coming off a title.
Right now those four games don’t have TONS of buzz. The Bengals, Raiders and Jaguars were bad this year, but it would be foolish to assume they will be bad next year. Texans vs. Jaguars would have had some serious juice coming into the 2018 season and Jacksonville could bounce back. Panthers-Buccaneers is a divisional matchup, although Cam Newton’s future does sound a little murky and that could cloud that game.
The best game, as of right now, is headed to Mexico. But that doesn’t mean the London games won’t turn out to be barn burners.
If you still haven’t marked your calendar for the Super Bowl, the game will be kicking off from Atlanta on Feb. 3 and will be televised by CBS and you can stream it right here. If you’re thinking about buying a new TV for the big game, CNET has you covered. They shared their best picks for every budget.