The wait may soon be over for Green Bay Packers fans in the United Kingdom and Europe to see their team play across the pond. That wait is one that a certain two-time MVP quarterback is looking forward to ending as well.
Alistair Kirkwood, the managing director of NFL UK, hinted at the league’s plans for the 2018 games to ESPN on Monday. Kirkwood began by noting that 26 of 32 teams have played in London at some point during the league’s push into the UK, but then dropped the news that the NFL is trying to get the remaining six teams — a group which includes the Packers — to play there next season:
(We) have a desire to have the other six teams that haven’t been over as well. It’s not the be-all and end-all, but you’d like to get closer and closer to having all 32 teams over. THat seems like a really nice narrative, and also for the fans of the teams that have supported us through thick and thin and they haven’t seen, I don’t know, the Eagles or the Titans or the Texans, or whoever else, or the Packers. That’s probably a nice ambition.
The Packers, of course, are unwilling to agree to give up a home game, which is a large portion of the reason why they have not yet played in Wembley or Twickenham Stadiums. Therefore, it would be surprising if the league would force them to give up a home game next year.
The Packers know seven of their eight road opponents in 2018, thanks to the NFL’s rotating divisional schedules. The Packers face the NFC West and AFC East divisions, in addition to the other three teams in the NFC North. The final game will be against the NFC East team that finishes in the same place in that division as the Packers’ final placement in the North.
One of these games would therefore appear be the pick if the NFL does indeed push a game across the Atlantic:
- Chicago Bears
- Detroit Lions
- Minnesota Vikings
- Los Angeles Rams
- Seattle Seahawks
- New England Patriots
- New York Jets
- NFC East team
It is also notable that the NFL has only occasionally sent intra-division games to London. Considering the strength of the historical rivalries within the NFC North, it is reasonable to eliminate the Bears, Lions, and Vikings games from the list of possible matchups. The Patriots and Seahawks games are likely to be premium matchups, potentially in prime time, so we can logically exclude those as well. That leave the Rams, Jets, and possibly that NFC East team as the most likely opponents. If that team were to be the Eagles, it might make sense, since Philadelphia is one of the other teams that has not yet played in London.
The league will officially announce the 2018 schedule in April, though they have announced the International Series games significantly earlier in past years. Kirkwood said that he predicts that “we’ll probably be announcing early December.”
This article initially and incorrectly stated that the NFL had not played intra-division games in London. APC apologizes for the error.