NFL International Series History: Teams, Locations, Schedules, and More

What is the history of the NFL International Series, when did it start, and which other countries have hosted NFL games other than England?

The NFL International Series has become a regular part of the NFL calendar. It’s a rich history dating back nearly two decades now. Let’s take a look at when the NFL started playing regular-season games internationally, where those games have been played, and the history of the NFL International Series games.

When Did the NFL Start Playing Internationally?

International NFL games have a long history, dating back well before the start of the NFL International Series. However, prior to 2007, the games were part of the preseason. The most notable of these was the series called the “American Bowl,” which began in 1986. The earliest recorded football game played on foreign soil was in 1950.

Between 1950 and 1983, 13 games involving NFL or AFL teams were played outside the United States. Teams played seven of those games against CFL clubs in Canada. Another three games were played in Canada (one in Toronto, two in Montreal). The final three games were played in Tokyo (1976), Mexico City (1978), and London (1983).

The History of the American Bowl

The first game to be considered part of the American Bowl was held in 1986 at Wembley Stadium. The Chicago Bears defeated the Dallas Cowboys 17-6 in the first of eight games played in London — all at Wembley.

In 1989, the American Bowl went back to Tokyo, where it would visit a total of 12 times, with one game in Osaka in 2002. Canada would host four American Bowl games (one each in Montreal and Vancouver, two in Toronto). There were also six games held in Mexico, five in Germany, two in Spain, and one each in Australia and Ireland.

The final American Bowl occurred in 2005. At that point, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke of a new international strategy that the league would adopt. This would end preseason games being played internationally and instead focus on regular-season matchups. That was the birth of the NFL International Series.

Germany Joined the Fray in 2022

The 2022 NFL season saw the first International Series game played in Germany. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosted the Seattle Seahawks, where Tom Brady bested Geno Smith 21-16. According to the NFL, 69,811 fans attended the sold-out game live in the Allianz Arena, home to Bundesliga side FC Bayern Munich.

Additionally, the game was NFL Network’s most-watched international game on record in the United States with more than 5.8 million viewers.

In 2023, the NFL announced that they would be adding another game to their Germany schedule, with two on tap to be played that season. The Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots will make their debuts in Germany as the home team for their international tilts.

NFL International Series Game History

Since the inception of the NFL International Series in 2007, 28 games went down in London and three in Mexico City. For the first six seasons, Wembley hosted one game a year. In 2013, this grew to two games and then three in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

It was in 2016 that the NFL expanded the International Series to Mexico City. The league played one game in Mexico City in 2016, 2017, and 2019. There was also due to be a game played in 2018 between the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams, but the NFL moved it back to LA due to poor field conditions.

The NFL went to four games in London in 2017, utilizing Twickenham Stadium (which they had also used in 2016) to host two of the four games. The NFL would return to just three games in 2018. Yet, the introduction of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in 2019 would see the NFL go back to four. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic meant no international games in 2020.

With uncertainty around the 2021 season, the NFL planned just two International Series games for the first time since 2013. That number increased back to five International Series games in 2022 and 2023.

The new NFL international schedule sets out the process for a minimum of four games per year. Teams are then able to volunteer to give up additional home games in other years. The Jaguars did exactly that in the 2022 season and appear committed to annually playing one game in London.

History of NFL International Series Games

Games played at Wembley Stadium unless otherwise stated.

  • 2007
    • New York Giants 13, Miami Dolphins 10
  • 2008
    • San Diego Chargers 32, New Orleans Saints 37
  • 2009
    • New England Patriots 35, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7
  • 2010
    • Denver Broncos 16, San Francisco 49ers 24
  • 2011
    • Chicago Bears 24, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 18
  • 2012
    • New England Patriots 45, St. Louis Rams 7
  • 2013:
    • Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Minnesota Vikings 34
    • San Francisco 49ers 42, Jacksonville Jaguars 10
  • 2014:
    • Miami Dolphins 38, Oakland Raiders 12
    • Detroit Lions 22, Atlanta Falcons 21
    • Dallas Cowboys 31, Jacksonville Jaguars 17
  • 2015:
    • New York Jets 27, Miami Dolphins 14
    • Buffalo Bills 31, Jacksonville Jaguars 34
    • Detroit Lions 10, Kansas City Chiefs 45
  • 2016:
    • Indianapolis Colts 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 30
    • New York Giants 17, Los Angles Rams 10 | Twickenham Stadium
    • Washington Football Team 27, Cincinnati Bengals 27
    • Houston Texans 20, Oakland Raiders 27 | Estadio Azteca, Mexico City
  • 2017:
    • Baltimore Ravens 7, Jacksonville Jaguars 44
    • New Orleans Saints 20, Miami Dolphins 0
    • Arizona Cardinals 0, Los Angeles Rams 33 | Twickenham Stadium
    • Minnesota Vikings 33, Cleveland Browns 16 | Twickenham Stadium
    • New England Patriots 33, Oakland Raiders 8 | Estadio Azteca
  • 2018:
    • Seattle Seahawks 27, Oakland Raiders 3
    • Tennessee Titans 19, Los Angeles Chargers 20
    • Philadelphia Eagles 24, Jacksonville Jaguars 18
  • 2019:
    • Chicago Bears 21, Oakland Raiders 24 | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
    • Carolina Panthers 37, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26 | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
    • Cincinnati Bengals 10, Los Angeles Rams 24
    • Houston Texans 26, Jacksonville Jaguars 3
    • Kansas City Chiefs 24, Los Angeles Chargers 17 | Estadio Azteca
  • 2021
    • New York Jets 20, Atlanta Falcons 27 | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
    • Miami Dolphins 20, Jacksonville Jaguars 23 | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
  • 2022
    • Minnesota Vikings 28, New Orleans Saints 25 | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
    • New York Giants 27, Green Bay Packers 22 | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
    • Denver Broncos 21, Jacksonville Jaguars 17
    • San Francisco 49ers 38, Arizona Cardinals 10 | Estadio Azteca
    • Seattle Seahawks 16, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21 | Allianz Arena

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast!

Listen to the PFN Inside Access Podcast! Click the embedded player below to listen, or you can find the PFN Fantasy Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms.  Be sure to subscribe and leave us a five-star review!

Related Stories

Related Articles