What will the matchups be? - bdsthanhhoavn.com

What will the matchups be?

Graphic: Igor Lazarevic

The NFL will be unveiling the matchups for the five international regular season games for the upcoming 2022 season.

We already know who the home teams will be as well as the locations and even some of the dates. However, on the eve of the announcement, we still have no word on who the designated home teams will be up against. 

In 2021, when the NFL announced they would be expanding the regular season to 17 games, they also listed a format they would use starting in the 2022 season. From then until 2029, every one of the league’s 32 teams will give up a home game and play abroad at least once. It will be indicative of who gets the extra home game in a particular year. This year, 2022, will have the NFC, 2023 will have the AFC, and the cycle repeats. This does not include teams that already have existing deals in place such as the Jacksonville Jaguars who have played a “home” game in London almost every year since 2013.

Let’s take a look at the possible matchups for the 2022 NFL International Series:

Week 4, October 2: New York Giants @ Green Bay Packers

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, United Kingdom

This will be the first of three games this year, as well as the long anticipated first ever London game for the Green Bay Packers. For years the team never went abroad due to the city of Green Bay needing the team’s eight home games to maintain their economy. They would also never be a road team overseas because most teams would prioritize the Packers, one of the most dominant teams in the league over the last three decades, plus a large fanbase that travels to be a game they have at their regular home venue. With the addition of the 17th regular season game, the Packers were finally able to get an international game. 

As for who their opponent will be, that is more of a mystery. Considering the Packers’ long storied history against their NFC North rivals, in the Bears, Lions and Vikings, those homes games would be tough to give up. The Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots also seem highly unlikely as they are national brands for the league and Green Bay would not want to give that up. So there are really just four choices that could really be considered for it. The Rams, Titans, Jets and Giants

The Los Angeles Rams are the only one of these teams to publicly say that they are open to being the Packers’ opponent in London for this year, however considering they are coming off winning Super Bowl LVI, more than likely, the Packers want to give that up. The Titans are in a similar predicament as like the Packers, they finished first in the conference last year.

As for the two New York teams, while the Jets have decided to market their games to the United Kingdom, they already played last season against the Atlanta Falcons and it is unlikely they will play another game in back-to-back years. This makes the Giants the most logical option. They are a team that has not been particularly good for the last five years. They have said they want to play more international games and the Packers could afford to give that game up.

Week 5, October 9: Minnesota Vikings @ New Orleans Saints

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, United Kingdom

For the second game in London this year, the Saints will give up a home game to play abroad. This will be their third game in London, with their first and second matchups coming from victories against the Chargers in 2008 and Dolphins in 2017. When the Saints were announced to be playing in London back in March, there were early reports that they would be against one of their NFC South rivals. However since then, we have gotten a near concrete confirmation. In either Week 4 or 5, they will reportedly be facing off against their biggest cross-divisional rival, the Minnesota Vikings. This makes sense as the Vikings decided to start marketing their games in the United Kingdom like the Jets, and want to use this as an opportunity to further market themselves.

Week 8, October 30: Denver Broncos @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Wembley Stadium, London, United Kingdom

After playing last year in Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Jaguars announced that they set up a new contract with Wembley Stadium that will be in place until the 2024 season. This will be the ninth game for Jacksonville in the International Series, and have no signs of stopping their commitment to the city of London anytime soon. As for their opponent, it has been confirmed that they will be hosting the Denver Broncos on October 30. This makes sense as the Broncos were reportedly going to be facing the Falcons in London back in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic thwarted any such plans. The Broncos have been interested in particular as they have the longest drought without an international game out of the rest of the teams (sans Green Bay) dating back to 2010 when they lost to the 49ers.

Week 10, November 13: Kansas City Chiefs @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany

After years of speculation, the country of Germany will be hosting a game in the International Series. For the next four years, the cities of Munich and Frankfurt will each be hosting a game. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, one of the four teams who have claimed Germany as an international market, are going to get first dibs to host a game. We even have a set date, November 1. While it isn’t certain who the Buccaneers will be playing yet, the scheduling would make sense for it to be the Kansas City Chiefs. This choice is still dubious as it would be a rematch of Super Bowl LV and the matchup of Tom Brady vs. Patrick Mahomes doesn’t feel like something Tampa Bay would want to give up from its home turf. However, like the Buccaneers, the Chiefs also claim Germany as an international market and even announced a Day 3 draft pick in Munich. So, it is definitely possible.

Week 11, November 21: Los Angeles Rams @ Arizona Cardinals

Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico

The Arizona Cardinals were originally going to host a game in Mexico City back in 2020, but like the Falcons in London that year, COVID-19 delayed any potential plans at that time and were postponed to a later date. As per tradition of the Mexico City games, they will be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. Also, in line with the 2016 and 2019 games, this matchup will be played on Monday Night Football

Similar to the Packers, we don’t know what team will be playing against the Cardinals as it has the least information. The best guess out of all of the scheduled home opponents for Arizona is their division rival and reigning Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams. While it is weird in theory that a team would give up a playoff rematch and a game against the defending champions, the Rams were scheduled to get a game against the Chiefs in 2018 but that game was moved to Los Angeles due to the poor field conditions at Estadio Azteca. The Chiefs ended up playing a year later, but the Rams have yet to play. Also, the cherry on top is that the Rams like the Cardinals chose Mexico as an international market, so it’s even more of a reason to go with them as the choice for the game.

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