The NFL announced its heaviest slate of international participants yet for 2023, with five franchises earning the right to represent themselves abroad next regular season. The Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, and New England Patriots are locked into playing across London and Germany already. We’ll project which NFL international game matchups we’d like to see most.
We don’t know the foes for these five designated teams yet, but we know where each will play. Germany will see the Chiefs and Patriots play after hosting their first game in NFL history in 2022. Wembley Stadium in London will get the Jaguars, and Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London will host the Bills and Titans.
Let’s dive into the best possible matchups each international series game could realistically produce.
Top Matchups We Want to See For 2023 NFL International Games
As we dive into the top matchups we want to see, we have to keep in mind the trends of the NFL’s matchup-making. We rarely see intra-divisional games, but it’s more likely to be a conference battle. These are also often not the best-possible matchups on a team’s schedule, so it’s unlikely we’ll see the Chiefs and Eagles play, for example.
Tennessee Titans vs. Los Angeles Chargers
The Tennessee Titans don’t have the most interesting home schedule, limiting our best options for their foe in London to either the Chargers or the Bengals. Both could provide an entertaining battle if the Titans are able to retool their roster this offseason and stay competitive. Will the Titans have quarterback Ryan Tannehill back under center, or will it be another veteran or even Malik Willis?
It’s not hard to say now that head coach Mike Vrabel has more power in the team’s hierarchy after he won a power struggle against general manager Jon Robinson. The Titans could use a purge of expensive veterans this offseason, but most coaches seem to lean into winning now over building a sustainable model. Personally, I’d commit to developing Willis as much as possible but considering Vrabel benched him for Josh Dobbs after picking up the journeyman off the street, that seems unlikely.
The Chargers are closer to the Titans’ level than the Bengals’. Tennessee would be the underdog regardless, but giving London exposure to Justin Herbert and Joey Bosa would be a wise move. They also have the habit of losing in some of the most unbelievable ways, almost promising us an entertaining matchup on the big stage.
Buffalo Bills vs. Denver Broncos
The Buffalo Bills are a must-watch team every week because of Josh Allen’s chaos factor. They have a solid list of opponents in 2023 they could face in London, but I could see the NFL banking on a resurgence from Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson. If Wilson plays as well as he did in the final two weeks of the 2022 season, the Broncos will be playoff contenders and be able to give the Bills a great game.
The other AFC options for the Bills’ opponent just aren’t as interesting. The Jaguars are out because they’re a designated home team already, and the Raiders are mildly intriguing but would be at a major disadvantage against the Bills. The rest of their AFC home schedule features their divisional foes.
Denver at least has Wilson leading the offense and a terrific defense that can force a tight game. That’s enough to pull considerable attention toward this game. A game between the Bills and Raiders would only be interesting if Tom Brady signs with the Vegas franchise.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Of course, we’re once again going to see the Jacksonville Jaguars playing internationally. At least this team is now entertaining and good enough to justify watching. They also have some intriguing foes on their 2023 schedule, including the Ravens, Bengals, Chiefs, and 49ers.
With the Chiefs already spoken for, I think the Bengals make the most sense as their best matchup. The 49ers are too talented and could blow Jacksonville out, whereas we’d see a highly-marketable game between Joe Burrow and Trevor Lawrence. The Bengals might be the best team in the AFC, but this could also end up an explosive offensive showing with two of the brightest stars in the league.
Baltimore would also make sense, but only if we knew Lamar Jackson will be back in 2023. While it’s more likely than not, we don’t have the assurance he won’t force his way elsewhere this offseason. There’s also the possibility he gets hurt and has to miss this game, and no one needs to see more of Tyler Huntley or whatever backup Baltimore will have who can’t carry the Ravens’ woeful surrounding cast as Jackson does.
The only options where the Jaguars won’t be underdogs are the Panthers and Falcons, but neither of those teams is overly interesting right now. It’s a harder sell when a team doesn’t have a young, budding quarterback or established star. Both teams might land one or the other soon, but we won’t know for sure until after this matchup is announced.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Detroit Lions
The NFL could put two heavyweights into this spot against the Kansas City Chiefs if they want to. Kansas City has to play Buffalo, Cincinnati, and Philadelphia in 2023, but the former two already have designated games overseas. I doubt the NFL would sacrifice a primetime game between the Chiefs and Eagles when they can put another competitive team in this slot.
That leaves the Dolphins or the Lions. Both have a great case to be in this game, and Miami fits the profile as another AFC team who has played internationally with success already. But the Lions are a darling team with head coach Dan Campbell leading their resurgence, and they should get more exposure while they’re competitive.
It’s also notable that Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown has ties to Germany. His mother was German-born and taught St. Brown to know three languages. It’d make sense for the league to push St. Brown as an international star on this platform, considering he’s emerged as a great talent.
New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles
The New England Patriots have a great list of potential foes for their game in Germany. We could see the Washington Commanders or New Orleans Saints providing a fresh matchup, especially with two very-American nicknames in the Patriots and Commanders. However, it makes more sense to me that New England would face a higher-tier opponent such as the Chargers or Eagles.
The Eagles should get one of these marquee international games. They might win Super Bowl 57 and have a young core of likable stars. The Patriots lack top-end talent and personality, whereas the Eagles can win the week in media coverage.
Plus, we’d have the storylines of whether Bill Belichick can slow down Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and this creative offense from Shane Steichen. The game itself may only be mildly entertaining if the Patriots continue struggling to manufacture their own points, but it’s a better option than facing the woeful Colts.