Chiefs and Lions Prepare for Wembley Showdown in NFL’s International Series

The new NFL regular season is edging closer and excitement is also building ahead of the year’s International Series at London’s Wembley Stadium. The Kansas City Chiefs will meet the Detroit Lions at England’s national stadium on November 1 in the final of three NFL games set to take place in London in 2015. Following the huge success of the NFL’s International Series, British fans will again have the chance to witness three games at Wembley this year, with the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets coming up in October followed up by a clash between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Buffalo Bills, all before the Lions and Chiefs do battle at the start of November.

History of the International Series

Due to a growing appetite for American Football in Europe, and especially the UK, the NFL started playing one regular season game in London’s Wembley Stadium back in 2007, in an experiment that has clearly worked. In the first ever regular season game held outside the USA, the Miami Dolphins recorded a thrilling 13-10 victory over the New York Giants to put themselves in the record books.

Source: independent.co.uk

The success of that event, which saw the first 40,000 tickets sold within 90 minutes of going on sale, resulted in the NFL returning again in 2008, ultimately growing the International Series to three regular season games in 2014 and again this year. With six franchises set to appear in London this season, the total NFL teams to have played a regular season game at Wembley will stand at 17. This proves beyond doubt that the International Series has a huge amount of potential to grow the game across the world.

London-based NFL team?

fan-base in the same way they would have wanted. In fact, many believe it is only a matter of time before the NFL look to really take advantage of the sport’s growing popularity in the UK and base a franchise in London, possibly even moving the Jaguars across the Atlantic. For the time being, though, those British fans will continue to lap up those regular season games that are held at Wembley.

Kansas City Chiefs v. Detroit Lions

The third regular season game to be held in London this year looks set to be a cracker. The two teams will meet in Round 8, by which time both franchises will be hoping to be closing in on a playoff spot. While the Lions are coming off an impressive 2014 campaign in which they recorded an 11-5 record on their way to the NFC Wildcard Game before losing to the Cowboys, the Chiefs were left licking their wounds at the end of the regular season after failing to make the playoffs. A busy offseason for both teams has seen the two teams being tipped by some punters to be possible surprise packages this season.

Credit Image Source: blog.peerindex.com

Following a relatively successful first season in charge, Detroit head coach Jim Caldwell has seen his roster strengthened during an offseason that has given the Lions fans real hope ahead of the New Year. With 12 months to get to know how the franchise works and implement his authority on this roster, the Lions could end up being one of the dark horses this year. For Kansas City’s managerial duo of Andy Reid and John Dorsey, the Chiefs coaching staff know they will need to improve on last year’s disappointments if they are going to have a strong claim to lead the franchise into a fourth season.

While it remains to be seen whether the Lions or the Chiefs will be in with a chance of lifting the famous Vince Lombardi Trophy at the end of the 2015 season, the third International Series game of the year between the two teams could end up having a huge say in how the final few rounds of this campaign unfolds.

Key players – New and Old

De’Anthony Thomas (Chiefs): Having impressed in a number of positions since being drafted in the fourth round last year, Thomas knows that he will be a wide receiver in 2015. The youngster has wasted little time in establishing himself as an important part of this Kansas team, recording 23 receptions for 156 yards in 12 appearances as a rookie. On the back of a breakthrough 2014 campaign, Thomas has spent much of the offseason indulging his love of cards by signing up to be involved in a poker-based reality show during the summer.

Credit Image Source: NFL.com

Along with the increased television coverage, as well as the popularity of the likes of Full Tilt Pokers’s Marc Kennedy’s live Twitch streaming, poker is becoming more of a mainstream sporting event in recent years. Having a couple of weeks at the tables and away from the training field could have been ideal for Thomas after a big 2014. Still very green in terms of NFL experience, the explosive runner is facing another interesting 12 months, not to mention his first appearance at Wembley.

Calvin Johnson (Lions): At the other end of the spectrum, Calvin Johnson remains one of the best wide receivers in the game. The five-time Pro Bowler is entering his ninth season in the NFL with the Lions, and the veteran is still one of the Chiefs’ most influential players. While he failed to lead the NFC in receiving yards gained for the first time since 2010, Johnson still broke the 1,000 yard barrier for the sixth time in his eight seasons in the league.

Source: philly.com

An ankle injury played a part in the 29-year-old’s modest figures, as well as keeping him out of action for the Lions’ incredible comeback victory over the Falcons at Wembley last year. Having missed out on appearing at Wembley last year, Johnson will be determined to be on that field when the Lions take on the Chiefs on November 1, as will his teammates and many of the sell-out crowd that will pack the iconic arena. Capable of turning the game on its head through a moment of brilliance, keeping Johnson fully fit will be one of the most important parts of this season for Detroit.

AFI
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