Have the Jacksonville Jaguars found a winning London formula?

After the Jacksonville Jaguars went 2-0 when becoming the first NFL team to play consecutive games outside the USA, could this be a huge advantage for them going forward?

As the NFL looks to continue its expansion into the UK and beyond, the Jacksonville Jaguars may have a big advantage as the de facto London team following their successful experiment of playing back-to-back games across the pond.

This season saw three NFL games played on consecutive Sundays in London, with the UK regulars Jacksonville playing at Wembley and then Tottenham in back-to-back weeks – and winning them both.

The schedule is all part of a discovery mission by the league to gauge interest among fans for a heavy dose of NFL – as the future will either see even more games played or possibly the London franchise that has been mooted for so long.

What’s clear for now is that the Jaguars hold the advantage, with the familiarity of handling the trans-Atlantic travel and adjustments to a new country – especially if playing in back-to-back weeks.

Doug Pederson’s team arrived in London as a 1-2 but beating the Atlanta Falcons and Buffalo Bills provided the kick-start they needed to their season, as they became the first NFL team to play consecutive games outside of the USA.

The Jags went on to win two more games when back in the United States and that four-game streak sees them top their division and if they reach the play-offs they could well point to that London series as the catalyst.

And Pederson, well aware of the advantage of playing and staying in London, was a big fan, saying: “I think it’s relatively safe to say that we’ll probably each year play two games over here.

“I don’t know that. I don’t have a crystal ball. I hope the rest of the league plays two games over here at some point.

“But again, it was good for us, and it was good to get out of Jacksonville at that time. We needed to, I think, bond a little bit as a football team, and we’ve done that.”

Although nothing has been confirmed, the Jaguars will no doubt be pushing to play twice in London again – with Pederson also pointing out that it provides almost like a second training camp to help his players bond while away from home.

The main sticking point, though, could come if the rest of the league see it as too much of an advantage for them to play consecutively – especially for the second team that flies into London with the Jags sitting and waiting already acclimatised to conditions.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell explained the league’s thinking while he was in London, saying they’re using the current schedule as a fact-finding mission for the future – with that competitive advantage a key component.

“Is it a competitive disadvantage or advantage one way or the other,” said Goodell. “How do they react to being away from their facilities for that long? How do the fans respond to it? We have three games here in London in three straight weeks, three consecutive weeks.

“We’ll learn something from that that will help us determine: Can we play more games? Could a team actually play over here?

“Could it deal with the competitive issues of being here for a period of time, including the visiting team? This will help us understand the challenges that we might have and what we could do to address that.”

So we’ll wait and see how the London schedule plays out for next season – but the best guess is that the Jags will again be given the chance to play in consecutive weeks, which they’ll be more than happy about after this season.

If they go 2-0 again though we may hear more from the rest of the teams in the league.

The Jags are currently 4/9 to win the AFC South 

More Articles