1:05pm: Per Albert Breer of the NFL Network (via Twitter), all six teams heading to London next year will have their bye weeks following their overseas games. The automatic bye for teams playing in London could be removed as soon as 2016, says Breer.
9:45am: The NFL has officially announced its three games scheduled to take place in London’s Wembley Stadium during the 2015 season. The Dolphins, Lions, and Jaguars will all be heading back to Europe after playing games there this season. Here’s the full schedule:
- Week 4 (October 4): Jets at Dolphins
- Week 7 (October 25): Bills at Jaguars
- Week 8 (November 1): Lions at Chiefs
The Daily Mail had previously reported that the league intended to increase the number of games in London next season from three to five, but it appears that’s not the case. Still, 2015’s lineup reflects the NFL’s desire to further experiment with the schedule and the stadium — games will be held in London on back-to-back weeks for the first time, and with three games bunched together in five weeks, the schedule will put Wembley Stadium’s playing surface to the test. The NFL’s international chief, Mark Waller, explained earlier this season why such changes were coming.
“I’m less focused on going from three (games) to four, four to five, five to six,” Waller said in September. “Can we do back-to-back games? Will the surface hold up? Can we start sending teams there without the bye attached? It’s not about the number anymore. … We’re at a place now where if we continue to do the job with the fans, the fan base will grow, and we’ll be able to have a team (in London). The questions now are logistical.”
While the NFL’s full schedule for 2015 has yet to be announced, it’s worth keeping an eye on whether any of the teams visiting London will do so without having their bye the following week, as Waller suggests.
Additionally, the Jets/Dolphins game in Week 4 represents the first time a divisional matchup has been held in London. The decision by Dolphins ownership to give up a divisional home game is already being panned by local media.