The NFL has announced the match up for the 2014 international series at Wembley. The Atlanta Falcons will host the Detroit Lions, the Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Dallas Cowboys and the Oakland Raiders will host the Miami Dolphins.
This expansion to three games is the next step in the NFL's global ambitions seems logical considering the success of the series since it was first started in 2007. Will both games selling out this year doing the same for 2014 should be easy and the announcement of these exciting games will only draw in more fans to Wembley. Let’s look at what these games will offer to fans in the UK.
Detroit Lions @ Atlanta Falcons
What I consider to be the marquee match-up of the 2014 international series solely because of what could potentially be a shootout between two of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. The Lions and Falcons will both be making their debut in the international series and this is a smart move by the NFL. Whilst the international series is always popular the teams being brought over has become slightly stagnated with multiple appearances from teams such as the Patriots and Buccaneers. Fresh teams will create fresh interest in the series and this game which is highlighted by an outstanding level of offensive play.
The Lions are a maddeningly inconsistent team year to year and whilst they can’t be counted on to be successful, you can count on exciting offensive play. The Lions are a pass happy team with the dynamic duo of the best receiver in the game Calvin “Megatron” Johnson and rocket armed quarterback Matthew Stafford. Along with running back Reggie Bush, UK fans can look forward to some explosive offense the series has lacked.
The Falcons are having a massively disappointing year but they shouldn't sway fans excitement over this match-up. Atlanta has just as much offensive talent as Detriot, boasting arguably the best wide receiver tandem in the league in Julio Jones and Roddy White. Matt Ryan might not be a flashy quarterback but he is on the border of elite and with the weapons around him Ryan is capable of bringing the Falcons back to competitiveness.
Dallas Cowboys @ Jacksonville Jaguars
The NFL can’t be happy that the Jaguars has become the least talented team, and therefore the least appealing team in the league this fast. This match-up is a master-stroke by the NFL in regards to making sure the team designated to play in the international series continues to be involved in games that are a success.
The Dallas Cowboys are not the dynasty of the 90's but they still being the aura of "America's team" across the pond. What they also have is one of the bigger fan bases in the UK, dating back to the previously mentioned dynasty where many fans were drawn into the NFL. In what appears to be the most uneven game of the three it will be able to garner attention because of the marketability of the Cowboys which is unmatched in the NFL. On the field the Cowboys will bring an array of star players to entice fans.
Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and DeMarcus Ware are all spectacularly entertaining and talented players. Whilst the Jaguars lack talent at the moment UK fans will be hoping they land the number 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater. We've seen the Colts, Redskins and Seahawks reinvigorated by rookie quarterbacks and maybe Bridgewater will make the Jaguars exciting if not competitive.
Miami Dolphins @ Oakland Raiders
Miami will return to Wembley after playing in the first international series game back in 2007. They will face off against the Oakland Raiders, a team most famous for being epitome of violent play in the 70’s that pushed the boundaries of legality in order to win. This type of play garnered a large following in the UK and whilst they have endured a distinct lack of success the previous few decades they remain a team that will bring in a crowd.
At the heart of this change was the death of owner Al Davis, who was the driving force in their road to mediocrity. Now they are rebuilding the roster from the bottom up, and whilst that means they lack elite talent on both sides of the ball they have found a diamond in the rough in quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Ironically the last pick Davis made before his death, Pryor has shown significant improvement in his passing ability in his first full season starting. This coupled with his elite physical abilities and running ability has provided a spark for this Raiders team which with hopefully continue into next season.
The Dolphins have their own young exciting quarterback in Ryan Tannehill, who is often the forgotten man in the 2012 quarterback class of 2012. He isn’t on Luck, Wilson or RG3’s level but he has been surrounded by many expensive free agents as the Dolphins try and help the young signal caller. These free agents included speed demon wide receiver Mike Wallace will wow fans with as his spectacular catches but has continued his inconsistent play in Miami. The Dolphins defense has struggled this year but is not short of playmakers with pro bowl defensive end Cameron Wake headlining the group.
This match up might not have the star power or offensive playmakers of the other two but one paper it should be a very even game, which is the most important for fans who want four quarters of exciting play.
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