NFL London series: We've never sent our best

America's getting its revenge on England for that whole taxation-without-representation thing.

After a COVID-induced year off, the NFL returns to London this weekend for the start of a two-game international swing. The Jets will play the Falcons on Sunday, followed by the Jaguars taking on the Dolphins next week. 

Yeah. As compelling matchups go, that's not exactly an elite quartet. If this were a Thanksgiving dinner, we'd be serving the Brits the limp asparagus, burnt pumpkin pie and mystery casserole from the far end of the table … after we explained what "Thanksgiving dinner" is, of course. 

The NFL series is always a sort of how-bad-do-you-want-it version of football. Yes, we get 9:30 a.m. football on the East Coast … but it's generally two crappy teams. Granted, football in unexpected timeslots is always a bonus — remember how weirdly cool the Wednesday Ravens-Steelers game was last year? — but there's a catch. You get to watch football for about 14 straight hours … but you've got to start with a stinkfest that you wouldn't watch otherwise. 

You know in your gut that the London Series always seems to pair up a couple bad teams, and you're right. Pro Football Talk has done the tough work of combing through every one of the 30 games played in London, including the two upcoming, and discovered this ugly stat:

Since beginning play in 2007, the NFL's London series has never matched two teams with winning records. Never. 

Ten times, including the next two games, both teams have arrived in London with losing records. Six times, the game has paired a team with a winning record against another with a .500 record. Once, in 2016, the Bears and Buccaneers came in with identical 3-3 records. Every other time, the London Series has matched a team with a winning record against a sub-.500 squad. 

The easy explanation for this is that the NFL is just offloading its junk to Great Britain, but that's not entirely true. Sometimes teams underperform! But more often, teams dragooned into playing are those without enough home-field sway to hold off the NFL's "request." Playing a game in London means giving up a lucrative home date, and few teams would willingly commit to losing one-eighth of their annual home-game revenues. 

The 17th game, which makes for an unbalanced schedule, could have a dramatic downstream effect on the NFL's plans to play in London, Mexico City, and down the line, Germany or elsewhere. But that kind of speculation will have to wait until we're well out of pandemic protocols all over the world. 

Plus, it's not like the terrible teams have impacted the British gate. Attendance at all London games regularly nears sellout levels, whether at 86,000-seat Wembley Stadium; 75,000-seat Twickenham Stadium; or the current venue, 63,000-seat Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Imagine how psyched the Brits would be if they could see the one-appearance-apiece Chiefs or Bills regularly! 

Finally, a bit of trivia. First, you already know which team has played the most times overseas: the Jacksonville Jaguars — seven times before this year, with a record of 3-4. That's due to the agreement the NFL and the Jaguars struck to play an annual home game in London. (That agreement led to the strong belief that the Jags would be picking up stakes and moving to London for good. For now, that's on hold; plus, the Jaguars have a whole lot more pressing problems to deal with.) 

The teams with the best records in London? That would be the Patriots — continuing a 240-plus-year unbeaten streak in matters involving patriots and England — Vikings, Saints, Giants and 49ers, all undefeated on foreign soil at 2-0. The worst team? Tampa Bay, which is 0-3 in its London journeys. 

The only team never to have played in London? That would be the Green Bay Packers. The reasons why are obvious: the Packers don't want to give up a home date, since they're so crucial to the local economy. Home teams who have the Packers coming in town don't want to miss out on the revenue of traveling Packers fans. NBC's Peter King speculated back in April 2019 that the Packers could be playing in London as early as 2020, but, well, you know what happened there. 

So as you tune into the next two weekends' London games, which will feature teams with (at the moment) a combined three wins, remember … at least it's American football. 


Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at [email protected]

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