clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Weighing the possibilities if the Chiefs return to London in 2021

We discussed that and more on the debut edition of “The Great British Chiefs Show.”

Kansas City Chiefs v Detroit Lions Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

“We are planning for international games in 2021; that’s the approach we’re going to take.”

These words came from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s mouth and were music to our ears. After a year in which there were no NFL games played internationally, the league plans to resume growing its game abroad this upcoming season — pandemic permitting, of course.

On the pilot episode of “The Great Brtish Chiefs Show,” we looked ahead to the 2021 International Series.

Will the Chiefs be involved? And if so, who could they be playing?

The Non-Starters

The entire home schedule

The decision to move a game away from Arrowhead Stadium to London in 2015 wasn’t exactly well-received in Kansas City. Giving up just one game out of a relatively small slate of games is a tough break for any fan base, but even more so for local fans of the Chiefs. While the NFL does a fantastic job of trying to create a home-field advantage at Wembley Stadium — or even at the mightly impressive Tottenham Hotspur Stadium — it’s just not Arrowhead.

The frustrations of fans did not fall on deaf ears last time round, least of all Chiefs owner Clark Hunt:

“I understand why our fans are frustrated,” said Hunt, via The Kansas City Star. “Frankly, I don’t expect them to be happy about it … they’re so passionate, and they want to spend their Sunday afternoons cheering the team on.”

To date, there have been 28 international series games played in London, and just 13 teams have given up a home game. I think it’s safe to say that the Chiefs are keeping their scheduled eight home games, at least for this season.

Road divisional games

All three AFC West teams feel like they’re closing the gap on Kansas City (although recent records say otherwise), so giving up a home game against the Chiefs is an advantage they simply cannot risk.

With Las Vegas and Los Angeles welcoming fans into their new stadiums for the first time this year, it’s hard to make a case they will be giving any home games in the next few years. Divisional games have been played in London before. However, an all-AFC West tie won’t be leaving the US shores anytime soon.

Baltimore, Philadelphia or Tennessee

No team has voiced their discontent for the London games quite like the Ravens. Following their 44-7 drubbing at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars back in 2016, John Harbaugh admitted that he “doesn’t plan on going over there any time soon to play again” and that “somebody else can have that job.”

He was emphatic.

This might sound like lazy analysis, but the presence of Andy Reid will be the main reason for Philadelphia not giving up the Chiefs game. Yes, Big Red may have already had his homecoming back in 2013, but regardless, it will still be a special event any time he returns to the city where he made his name. This time around, I doubt we’ll be seeing a Gatorade shower.

The Titans, at this stage, are likely a team that feels they can hang with the Chiefs. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that the two teams met each other in the AFC championship game. With that in mind, the Titans would want to keep that game in-house and hope that they can recreate the events of the last time these two clubs met in Nashville.

The potentials

Cincinnati Bengals and the Washington Football Team

The Bengals have made the trip across to London twice in recent years — hosting Washington in 2016 and then visiting the Rams in the latest round of international games in 2019. Naturally, you’d believe that would rule them out for a return to little old England.

However, if there is a trend with the London games, then it is that the teams that give up a home game aren’t normally considered serious playoffs contenders. Up until the Chiefs in 2015, none of the teams who lost a home game had then gone on to make the playoffs in the same year. The Bengals do have potential, but they’re not knocking on the door of the AFC’s elite just yet. Making the most of their exciting young team by taking them on a tour around the world seems right. International fans will love the idea of supporting a team with a bright future, and it’s better to be on the bandwagon just before it sets off.

Washington is less about matters on the field, but more so about the off-the-field affairs —although being a cross-conference game certainly increases the chances of this game happening.

A nameless team in London might seem a hard sell, but the Washington Football Team is the closest we have to a soccer-style of name in the NFL. If that name is going to have success anywhere, it will be in England.

We don’t know exactly when the Washington Football Team will be announcing its new name, but we do know that the team has a branding problem. Regardless of no new name just yet, Washington will be keen to grow its popularity domestically and internationally.

The wild card

Mahomes vs Rodgers in London?

Sounds crazy, but hear me out.

The widely reported 17th game looks to be making its debut in 2021. The cross-conference affairs will see the top teams face off in an extra game — this year would see the Chiefs host the Packers. But more importantly, we would finally get Patrick Mahomes against Aaron Rodgers.

The 2021 games will count as an official AFC home-game, but nothing is set in stone yet. Taking all of the 17th games abroad is certainly ambitious, but it will undoubtedly make it easier for the NFL to justify taking home games away from clubs.

It's Game Time.

It's time for a title defense in Chiefs Kingdom. Sign up for Arrowhead Pride Premier and we’ll deliver 3 newsletters leading up to the Super Bowl packed with exclusive coverage and analysis from Las Vegas you won’t find anywhere else. For a limited time, use the code SUPERBOWL30 to save 30% plus a free trial