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NFL has an ideal opportunity to send Packers to London in 2019 but might not take it

With the league’s announcement of the home teams for next year’s games, it seemed a perfect time to get Green Bay to the UK. But the NFL may still screw it up anyway.

NFL: International Series-Philadelphia Eagles at Jacksonville Jaguars Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is on record saying he wants to play in London before he retires. Rodgers spoke of that possibility when discussing his “bucket list” a few years ago, but the Green and Gold have yet to make a trip overseas.

That could all change in 2019. On Wednesday, the NFL announced the home teams for the five International Series games next season, which will consist of four games in London and one in Mexico City. One of those host teams is on the Packers’ schedule already as a road game: the Los Angeles Chargers.

The NFL would be wise to take this opportunity to send that Packers-Chargers game to London. Packers team president Mark Murphy has said in the past that the team is unwilling to give up a home game to play across the Atlantic Ocean, citing the financial impact to the community if it were to lose a game. That is also one of the reasons why the Packers have not played a road game in London, either — because their fans travel well, their road opponents also have requested to keep their games against Green Bay in their true home stadiums to boost tourism revenue.

Of course, that should not be a major concern for the Chargers, particularly now that they are playing in the Los Angeles area. The StubHub Center in Carson has a listed capacity of just 27,000, and the Chargers are still scheduled to play in that stadium through the 2019 season. When factoring that in, making the decision to move that game to London seems like a slam dunk.

However, after the league’s announcement, Rob Demovsky of ESPN threw a wet blanket on this idea. Demovsky reported that a source said the Packers “aren’t expected” to be the Chargers’ opponent in that international game. This is hardly official, and the league could still send the Packers overseas, but the fact that such a report came out so quickly after the home teams were announced is discouraging.

Unfortunately, that Chargers game will be Green Bay’s only opportunity next season to play an International Series game. The five teams scheduled to “host” the five games next year are the Buccaneers, Chargers, Jaguars, Raiders, and Rams. 14 of the Packers’ 16 opponents for next season are already set, and they could play as many as two of these other four teams, but both of those games will be at home.

The Packers have a game against the Raiders locked in on the schedule, but that game will be at Lambeau Field, since the last game between the two franchises was in Oakland. Green Bay could also end up with a game against the Buccaneers on the schedule, if the two teams finish in the same positions in their divisions, but that game would be in Green Bay as well.

The Packers’ opponents in 2019 are as follows:

Home games: Bears, Lions, Vikings; Eagles, Washington, Broncos, Raiders; NFC South team
Road games: Bears, Lions, Vikings; Cowboys, Giants, Chargers, Chiefs, NFC West team

Note that the Packers cannot play the Rams, because they have clinched the NFC West and Green Bay was guaranteed not to finish in first place in the NFC North after last week’s games.