2024 NFL International Games: Four dream matchups we’d love to see

By Tom Blair, Original Content Editor, Special Projects

Last week, we learned the names of the designated teams that will be playing in London (the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars) and Munich, Germany (the Carolina Panthers) as part of the NFL’s 2024 International Games. And since then, I’ve been dreaming — of the potential matchups we could see in those games.

Keeping in mind how much will change between now and when the games take place, I skimmed the list of 2024 home opponents to draw up the most appealing pairings for the four designated teams. (The designated team for the 2024 season’s game in São Paolo, Brazil will be announced later.)

Following recent trends, I avoided divisional matchups, and I also stayed away from teams that played abroad in 2023. Beyond that, I tried to focus on matchups that would be compelling and entertaining enough to shine under the international spotlight.

LOCATION: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (London)

When these teams last met, to kick off the 2021 NFL season, it was the Bears’ first game since drafting Justin Fields and the Rams’ first game since trading for Matthew Stafford. L.A. went on to win the Super Bowl, while Fields’ future in Chicago remains an open question. But no matter what happens going forward, both teams will at least be interesting in 2024.

Maybe Fields will fully come into his own at the controls of an offense fine-tuned to support him, leading a truly competitive team for the first time in his NFL career. Or maybe the Bears will have a shiny new QB, added via the first overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, who — in a best-case version of this scenario — provides them with a C.J. Stroud-like shot in the arm. Either way, with Montez Sweat leading the pass rush, Chicago’s defense should keep things competitive.

As for the Rams, they’re quite a bit different than when they most recently visited London, in 2019. I’m sure the local crowd won’t mind getting a closer look at Stafford and the two new offensive stars (Puka Nacua and Kyren Williams) who helped power a return to the playoffs. Stafford’s age (he’ll turn 36 in February) is something to keep an eye on, but it’s hard to doubt him coming off a Pro Bowl campaign. Plus, even if the wheels fly off, I trust Sean McVay and a sturdy defense to provide L.A. with a decent floor in any given matchup.

LOCATION: Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (London)

The 49ers are a high-profile opponent on the Vikings’ 2024 slate, but I’m not sure I’d bank on Minnesota matching up well enough with San Francisco to play as close as they did this season. The Jets also stand out, but they seem like too much of an unknown to slot in here. So I’m going with Houston, drawn by two factors:

  • Presuming Minnesota figures out a plan at QB, it’s easy to see the Vikings and Texans being close enough on a competitive level to make this fun.
  • Star power.

Justin Jefferson (with an extension fresh in hand?) should have Minnesota covered in that department, no matter who is under center (although all the better if Kirk Cousins brings his particular brand of kooky charm to the party). Every time Jefferson steps onto the field, it feels like he’s capable of doing something special. And the same could be said for a couple of the players who would be on the opposite sideline, as we saw most recently in Houston’s Super Wild Card Weekend smackdown of the Browns. Since the Texans’ one and only trip across the Atlantic, in 2019, the franchise has been reborn. What better way to return than with C.J. Stroud and Will Anderson Jr. ready to dazzle Londoners following a highlight-filled first spin on the playoff stage?

LOCATION: Wembley Stadium (London)

Trevor Lawrence put on a pretty good show with Josh Allen at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in Week 5, when the Jaguars held off a Bills comeback attempt, so let’s cue up another stud QB for Lawrence to face in Wembley. Jordan Love and the Packers clicked down the stretch in 2023, forcing their way into the playoffs before dominating the Cowboys in the Wild Card Round. However far Green Bay advances in the postseason, Love would have a chance to do something in this game that Aaron Rodgers hasn’t yet: win in London.

One of the things that is most appealing about this matchup is that Love and the Packers are only about a year apart from Lawrence and the Jaguars in their competitive timelines, with Jacksonville notching a second consecutive winning season in 2023 after crashing the postseason party in 2022. So the two teams should be fairly evenly matched — and both will have plenty to prove. Love and Co. will need to show they have staying power among the playoff contenders. Lawrence, meanwhile, will want to flush the disappointment of 2023. Outplaying Love would help.

LOCATION: Allianz Arena — home of FC Bayern Munich (Munich, Germany)

We don’t know exactly what the Panthers will look like — or who will coach them or build their roster — in 2024. It seems safe to assume that Bryce Young will return as QB. Everything else is up in the air in Carolina, where the offense struggled to move the ball and the defense, though decent enough, stands to lose key producers like Frankie Luvu and Brian Burns to free agency.

Among Carolina’s 2024 opponents, the Cowboys would bring plenty of sizzle to the stage, and owner Jerry Jones did recently signal a willingness to play abroad as the visiting team. But I’m going to go a little bit beyond the obvious and choose a rising squad that showed its own knack for generating drama in 2023, including against Dallas. Whether they were shocking the Cowboys behind Josh Dobbs or shocking the Eagles behind Kyler Murray, Arizona packed a surprising amount of fireworks into a four-win season.

It’s good to see all the enthusiasm — from both the team and the QB — over Murray’s place in Arizona’s future plans, because he showed in his return from an ACL tear that he’s still got it. RB James Conner finished strong, and TE Trey McBride broke out. With two first-round picks and a comfy amount of projected cap space, there’s a strong chance Murray will be bringing a spruced-up supporting cast to Munich. Jonathan Gannon has the arrow pointing up in Arizona. If Carolina gets Young on the right track, this could be a spicy showdown that tells us something important about each QB.

The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major