As has been customary since 2013, the Jacksonville Jaguars will make their annual trip across the pond next season as part of the NFL International Series. This will be the tenth time that the franchise has hosted a regular season game at Wembley Stadium - and the twelfth time they’ve suited up in London at any venue. Sitting at 6-5 overseas, the special relationship with the United Kingdom has so far yielded mixed results. But who might they face in 2024? With the opponents for next season already set even if the schedule is not, let’s dive into the candidates:
The AFC South
Jaguars 30, Colts 27— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 2, 2016
Jaguars improve to 2-2 all-time in London (beat Bills 34-31 in Week 7 last season) pic.twitter.com/knGL5yCgEG
As is customary, the Jags will have a home game against each of their division rivals in 2024. Whilst the NFL initially avoided scheduling division matchups during the International Series, it has become more prevalent; Jacksonville have been involved in two AFC South battles abroad so far, beating the Indianapolis Colts in 2016 and losing to the Houston Texans three years later. Neither of those opponents have returned since, and could be considered - the NFL showed they’re willing to schedule ‘rematches’ last year, with the Jaguars taking on the Buffalo Bills, a team they beat at Wembley back in 2015…
You could argue that the Tennessee Titans make the most sense of any divisional opponents to face the Jags seen as it’s a matchup yet to be sent to London, but there are a couple of reasons to pump the brakes; The Titans played at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last season, and might not be inclined to return so quickly. Add to that the league’s reticence to send teams with first year head coaches across the Atlantic, and Tennessee might escape a long trip.
Other AFC Options
Taking on the NFC East in 2024, the Jaguars have home games lined up against the New England Patriots and New York Jets. Two teams with strong fanbases in Europe, either opponents would prove popular choices with the fans - the Patriots in particular, who thanks to Tom Brady have an abnormally large following in the UK. They also haven’t been on a trip to London since 2012, although they have since featured in both Mexico (2017) and Germany (2023). Of course, the league would again factor in New England’s appointment of a new head coach in any decision they make.
The Jets are an interesting possibility; a franchise that holds marketing rights in the United Kingdom, they have only made the trip twice - last coming over in 2021. A fit again Aaron Rodgers could also prove a selling point for a fanbase thirsty for star power.
The only other AFC opponent on the home slate for 2024 is the Cleveland Browns. This is a franchise that is definitely due a return to London, having only featured in the series once - at Twickenham Stadium back in 2017. Consider these a frontrunner for consideration - it may surprise you to learn they are fondly thought of by UK fans, a natural tendency from the British public to root for the underdog. In many ways, it is a similar sentiment that has helped the Jaguars become ‘London’s team’.
The @NFL has designated teams for the London and Munich International Games in 2024!— Troy Vincent, Sr. (@TroyVincentSr) January 11, 2024
: @ChicagoBears | @Vikings | @Jaguars
More details: https://t.co/mZZjKuzoJv pic.twitter.com/EHhlheQMqC
In terms of NFC opponents, The Jaguars play the North in 2024 and have home games lined up against the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers. Neither of these seem particularly realistic opponents for a game at Wembley Stadium - firstly, the Packers are not willing travelers to the UK. They have been just once, and it took the league 16 years to convince them to do so. After losing back in 2022, I don’t see them packing a suitcase again any time soon. As far as Minnesota are concerned, the Vikings are a designated home team in London in 2024 themselves, and it is unlikely they would want to do back-to-back ‘home’ and ‘away’ games like the Jaguars did last season.
Speaking of; could Jacksonville double down on the two-week stopover that proved such a success last year? The Chicago Bears, the third team set to host a game in London, are an away opponent for the Jags in 2024. It seems entirely plausible that the league - in conjunction with Shahid Khan - continues to experiment with a schedule that delivered two wins for the franchise and helped spark something of a midseason run. I’m not a gambling man, but a Browns-Bears double header would be my bet for the Jaguars’ most likely International Series schedule come October/November.
Get those flights booked and those jerseys ready. I’ll see you at Wembley!