Fascinating games

Figures prove international matches unfairly affected AFC East

International games have unfairly affected the AFC East since they became a thing in October 2005, when the Arizona Cardinals beat the San Francisco 49ers at Estadio Azteca, Mexico. Since the first game in the early 2000s, there have been 40 international NFL games, including 30 in the UK.

For small market teams, it has become a fascinating way to grow globally, but the consequences have been overwhelming as more and more evidence has been gathered over the past decade.

Based on the previous 18 regular season games played outside the United States through 2015, 20 of the 21 designated home teams failed to reach the playoffs, while 11 of the 21 designated visitors eclipsed the playoff eligibility that year.

Coincidence? It’s possible, but these numbers are staggering. Missing a home game to play at a neutral venue creates a huge disadvantage for international hosts.

Another key factor in international games is the grueling travel around the world, which almost always results in participating teams racking up the most travel miles in the league.

Regarding this season, the following teams are expected to participate in an international match in 2022:

Unsurprisingly, 4 of the top 5 teams based on total miles traveled for the upcoming season are playing an international game. The Seahawks have to go the most with 29,446 total miles, the Broncos with 27,398 miles, the Jaguars with 25,398 miles and the Saints with 24,976 miles.

Compared to the teams with the least travel, the Steelers with 6,442 miles, the Lions with 8,348 miles, the Ravens with 9,500 miles, the Browns with 9,986 miles and the Bears with 10,086 miles, you can see the huge advantage of not playing internationally.

Tua Tagovailoa (1) Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Now, every season, only a handful of selected teams feel the effect of international matches at a time. But what about the last two decades, which teams have been punished the most? Let’s take a look at each team and division and break down how much they’ve been asked to make the long and dreaded journey.

Total AFC East – 19

Buffalo Tickets – 7

Miami Dolphins – 6

New England Patriots – 3

New York Jets – 3

No division of football has appeared in more international matches than the AFC East. The Bills haven’t played an international game since 2015, but in the first decade that these games were held, it was as if Buffalo had played one every season. This year, however, AFC East is getting a well-deserved break from international matches.

AFC North Total – 5

Baltimore Ravens – 1

Cincinnati Bengals – 2

Cleveland Browns – 1

Pittsburgh Steelers – 1

AFC North have been very lucky with their travels around the world. For a division that used to play a fair amount of preseason games internationally in the 1990s, it’s interesting that they weren’t scheduled for more regular season games. The Cincinnati Bengals were the last team to represent the North in London, in 2019.

AFC South Total – 13

Houston Texans – 2

Indianapolis Foals – 1

Jacksonville Jaguars – 9

Tennessee Titans – 1

AFC South’s tally isn’t really surprising when you think about it. Jaguars owner Shahid Khan signed a partnership with the Football Association of England in 2012, to play one game in London for four consecutive seasons. After the deal expired, Khan re-signed for another five years, but is set to expire a year late due to the 2020 game being canceled due to Covid-19. It will be interesting to see if Khan extends the partnership again.

Total AFC West – 12

Denver Broncos – 2

Kansas City Chiefs – 2

Las Vegas Raiders – 5

Los Angeles Chargers – 3

In 3 of the 4 international matches played in Mexico, at least one AFC West team participated, which makes sense given the geographical location. The Broncos will be the only team in this division to leave the United States this season.

NFC East Total – 6

Dallas Cowboys – 1

New York Giants – 3

Philadelphia Eagles – 1

Washington Commanders – 2

Another extremely lucky division is the NFC East. I’m pretty surprised the Cowboys haven’t played a game in Mexico yet, but maybe that’s on the horizon. These teams hold a combined record of 4-1-1 in international matches, and the Giants will have the chance to improve on that record when they travel to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in October.

NFC North Total – 9

Chicago Bears – 3

Detroit Lions – 2

Green Bay Packers – 1

Minnesota Vikings – 3

The Green Bay Packers are the only NFL team not to have made the trip to London. Luckily for Cheese Head fans around the world, the Packers will make their debut this season. The NFC North is actually the only division with two games in London in 2022, as the Vikings will kick off the international roster against the Saints.

NFC South Total – 11

Atlanta Falcons – 3

Carolina Panthers – 1

New Orleans Saints – 3

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 4

If you’re the Carolina Panthers, you’re happy with the international schedule. The Panthers traveled to London in 2019 for the first time in franchise history and will once again get a break from travel. Much like the NFC North, this division also has two separate teams competing in international matches. The Saints will host the Vikings in London and the Buccaneers will host the NFL’s first-ever game in Germany, against the Seahawks.

NFC West Total – 14

Arizona Cardinals – 3

Los Angeles Rams – 4

San Francisco 49ers – 4

Seattle Seahawks – 3

The second most international games for a division goes to the NFC West. As mentioned earlier, the 49ers and Cardinals were the first-ever game for a regular-season international game. The NFL wisely did a rematch this year at the same stadium the first game was hosted, Estadio Azteca. The Super Bowl champions were the only team in that division that could escape by playing in another country.

International games

International Series: AFC East (Photo by S. Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images)

All in all, the idea of ​​international games is a great idea. American football is the main sport in no other country than the United States, and continuing to develop the sport elsewhere will only bode well for the game.

However, if the NFL is serious about playing in even more countries and maybe even hosting a Super Bowl in one of them, they better learn how to run those games properly. The gap between the teams is too big, and it is necessary to address to level the playing field.

The league average of international matches played per division is 11 and the average per team is around 3 matches.

Theoretically, this means the AFC East (19), NFC West (14) and AFC West (12) have been at the most travel disadvantages over the past two decades.

As for specific teams, that would be the Dolphins (6), Bills (7), and Raiders (5). (Not counting the Jaguars, they signed up for that).

On the contrary, AFC North (5), NFC East (6) and NFC North (9) were the luckiest divisions.

The most favorable individual teams are Panthers (1), Packers (1), Eagles (1), Cowboys (1), Titans (1), Colts (1), Browns (1), Steelers (1) and Ravens (1).

Hopefully the NFL realizes the inequality in their programming and begins to balance the rating of international games over the next few years.

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