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Ranking The 2023 NFL Season’s Best International Games + The NFL In Tokyo?

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

Canada, Eh?

The NFL has a far more expansive history of playing games outside of the USA than the average football fan probably realizes. Between 1950 and 1961, they attempted six interleague games against the Canadian Football League. (It hurts the American in me deeply to know that we lost at least one of those games when the Buffalo Bills lost to the Hamilton Tigercats 38-21.) But it also pleases the Patriots fan in me to know it was the Bills.

For the record, I’m not going to be touching base on every single international game the NFL experimented with, for there are simply too many. But we’ll go over some of them quickly.

The NFL Played A Game In Tokyo?

In 1976 the first NFL preseason game outside of North America would be played, under very unusual circumstances. The game was financed by Japanese promotor Frank Takahashi from California who was attempting to bring his favorite sport, American Football into mainstream Japanese culture at the time. He told reporters that if he sold every ticket he would break even… Spoiler, he didn’t. He lost tens of thousands of dollars… but he still considered the night to be a success of sorts.

So this 1976 preseason NFL game wasn’t even arranged by the NFL. It was very strange in that regard, perhaps the only instance of such a thing happening in the modern-day NFL.

The Tokyo game sounds like it was basically everything but a disaster from the words of the players. It was certainly a once-in-lifetime experience for most of them, and the extensive interview done by in 2016 with some of the players that were there is definitely an entertaining and worthwhile read.

For example, it goes into detail about how some of the players had far too much drink on the plane, and there’s also a part where one player questions if he should delve into more “r-rated” aspects of the trip. (He doesn’t, but it’s almost risque enough to simply hear him imply such things).

That 1976 preseason NFL game between the St. Loius Cardinals and San Diego Chargers was one to forget with a final score of Cardinals 20 – Chargers 10. But its legend lives on in other ways. It’s a mostly forgotten saga in the long and storied history of the largest corporation on the planet, but it’s still fun to think about. It’d make for a great movie probably.

Mexico City

The first regular season NFL game ever held outside of the United States was in Mexico City, on October 2nd, 2005, between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers. This game smashed the in-game NFL attendance record at the time with 103,467 live spectators. Obviously, with this sort of success, they decided to make it a thing, and since then have played multiple games in Mexico City. (There is no Mexico City game on the schedule this year).


The NFL had some experience playing in London before they started the “NFL International Series”, but we’re just going to focus on the NFL International Series for now, which began in 2007 and continues today. Since 2007, the NFL has played at least one game in London every year, playing up to four games in London on certain years.


In February 2022, the NFL confirmed the addition of Germany to the slate of NFL International Series games, initially with one game per year from 2022-2025 to be played in Germany.

A lot of people are considering Mexico, London, and Germany to be three obvious spots for an attempt at a Global NFL takeover expansion league. It’s almost too obvious. Should be really cool though if it does happen.

(I miss destroying the NFL Europe teams in Madden 2001 or whatever year Madden they were in. If the expansion league does happen, that could be something to look forward to… if EA Sports hadn’t completely forsaken the name of John Madden, football, AND video games at this point. [EA Sports should be ashamed of themselves, honestly.])

International Games Scheduled This Season

This season, the NFL has three games scheduled for London, and two games scheduled to be played in Germany.

Let’s go ahead and rank them from a good old-fashioned competition standpoint, and see what type of match-ups our tea-drinking peers from across the pond are going to be in for this season. (Fish and chips.)


#5. Atlanta Falcons Vs. Jacksonville Jaguars @ Wembley Stadium, London. October 1st, 2023.

Out of all five games, this is the one I’m least likely to watch, and I think it’s fair to say that an overwhelming majority of people would agree.

The Falcons are a cursed team (28-3). The NFL shouldn’t be peddling their faulty wares to a new market without a proper fix-up job. Europeans everywhere should’ve felt insulted to find out, that out of the 32 teams the NFL could’ve picked to send over… they picked the dang Atlanta Falcons. (Sorry Clint).

Will it be Desmond Ridder or Taylor Heinicke under center for Atlanta come October 1st in London? Hard to tell really. The Falcons brass and fanbase seem content with Ridder as their savior… I say, give it two weeks max and they’ll be begging for Heinicke.

Bijan Robinson could be fun to watch though!

Also, the Jags have become a perennial dark-horse playoff candidate since they drafted Quarterback/shampoo model Trevor Lawrence. So this game could potentially mean something in the long run… Probably not for the Falcons though.

Conclusion: A messy game that everyone expects to be incredibly high-scoring, but instead it ends up being a low-tier slugfest, as both offenses struggle to acclimate to… Europe. I’m expecting at least four or five interceptions.

Final Score Prediction: Jaguars 23 – Falcons 17


#4. Miami Dolphins VS. Kansas City Chiefs @ Deutsche Bank Park, Frankfurt. November 5th, 2023.

In all fairness, this game should definitely be ranked higher.

At this point, there’s no way to know which Miami Dolphins show up in Germany this November. There were two very distinct Dolphins teams that emerged from the fracas last year. One of those teams looked like a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The other one… Looked a little lost, to say the least.

There are some good things going on here in terms of entertainment value. For starters, obviously having the defending Super Bowl Champions making a visit to Europe is something that could be considered an exciting prospect for German fans new and old. There are definitely a ton of German fans who have been dying for more local NFL action since the NFL packed up their bags and shut down NFL Europe. In that case, it’s kinda nice of the NFL to send one of their premiere teams to entertain the masses…

It will probably be a lackluster game either way. It’s possible the Chiefs don’t show up and it’s a boring, low-scoring affair. It’s either that or the Chiefs DO show up and end up absolutely smoking the Dolphins, like a fat Portuguese Codfish or a finely aged Cuban Cigar.

The most exciting thing to watch for and keep in mind during this game will probably center around human/cheetah hybrid WR Tyreek Hill. Revenge game or something like that? Even though he isn’t necessarily seeking revenge… and from what we’ve been told, he’s the one who decided it was time to skip town in the first place. Whatever. He’ll do something incredible probably. It’s almost always worth watching a game when Tyreek Hill is involved. Good enough for me. Should be a decent enough game.

Conclusion: A very much, who cares match-up between two teams with similar ceilings and a large disparity between their floors. If Tua is playing, this could be a close game with a total of around 100 points. If he’s not… you might as well be watching Jackson Mahomes on Tiktok.

Final Score Prediction: Dolphins 31 – Chiefs 27 (if everyone is healthy and the Dolphins are clicking).

If Tua’s not playing, it’ll be more like: Chiefs 34 – Dolphins 10. NEXT.


#3. Jacksonville Jaguars Vs. Buffalo Bills @ Tottenham, London. October 8th, 2023.

I really wanted to rank this one dead last. But I know better than to doubt the Buffalo Bills when it comes to them putting on a show. They always do, in one way or another. Bills Mafia is the funniest fanbase in the league by a mile. It should be a treat for all to witness the spectacle that is the European Bills Mafia, live in action. Who knows what that could entail really? Hopefully broken tables and marital aids for the sake of tradition.

Tradition aside, it should be a fairly competitive game and as much as I hate the Bills as a Patriots fan, Josh Allen is one of the most fun Quarterbacks in the league to watch play. If Allen’s doing his thing at a high level, and Trevor Lawrence finds a way to go step-for-step with him, this game might end up as the best one out of the five after everything is said and done.

Conclusion: Either the Bills lose or the Jaguars lose. They could also tie. With that strong analysis aside, these are both potential playoff teams and this game could stand to have an impact on the season as a whole. Should be a premiere game from some of the League’s premiere players on some of the League’s most under-rewarded teams. This will be a fast, hard-hitting game of football… But then again… I’m pretty sure they all are, right?

Final Score Prediction: (I’m going to use my favorite Josh Allen meme that I saved from a few years ago to predict the outcome of this game).

Don't ask why I'm posting this again, just enjoy it while it lasts — Pat Keefe (@PatKeefe12) May 19, 2023

#2. Indianapolis Colts Vs. New England Patriots @ Deutsche Bank Park, Frankfurt. November 12th, 2023.

Remember Sebastian Vollmer? I sure didn’t until I was poking around to research this article. Apparently, his winning a Super Bowl with the Patriots in 2015 is one of the reasons that the NFL has become so popular in Germany over the recent decade. It seems fairly unlikely that it’s the top reason or anything, but… I guess it makes sense.

Anyways, seeing as how Sebastian Vollmer was on the Patriots, and the Patriots are set to play their very first game in Germany, it seems as though Pats Nation is likely to come out in droves to support everybody’s favorite football team: The New England Patriots. Not only have the Pats replaced the Cowboys as America’s Team, but they’ve also officially found themselves in the running to become Germany’s Team as well.

As for the game… There is a realist in me that recognizes the potential snooze-a-palooza that this game could bring if either of these teams failed to make all the necessary and required adjustments to avoid being some of the worst football teams in the league like they both were last year. The Pats Vs. The Colts last year wasn’t a great example of the dynamic potential of either of these teams. (Last year, the Pats won 28-3 against first-time starter Sam Ehlinger [15-29, 103 yards, one INT])

This year however is a completely different story, for both teams. It always is. It has to be because that’s the nature of the game and the state of the league.

Though the Patriots seemingly haven’t made any franchise-altering, eye-popping type off-season moves, they’ve definitely still done their fair share of off-season activity this year. Bill and the boys have made enough moves that you’d be foolish to consider this team as one that isn’t going to be completely different from last year’s team. With Mac Jones under center, the skeptics are stealthily crouched, waiting to pounce on this team’s chances at any given opportunity. But even though he sucked last year, he’s still a legit top-30 QB, and he’s our best option.

Zappe who? Zappe Gilmore probably. Am I right?

As for the Colts, they also stand a chance of being a legitimate trainwreck this season. But the World will be watching with intrigue regardless, with everyone basically focused on one player. Obviously, that player is Anthony Richardson, who put up Superman freakazoid-type numbers at the combine this year, shattering combine records for players testing at the QB position.

Maybe he can leap the whole defense in a single hurdle. Perhaps when he receives the snap, he’ll simply accelerate into the air and fly directly to the end zone. That’s about what I’m expecting to see at this point given his unmatched level of hype.

Some people also think he lacks experience and could end up being terrible… Those people are no fun though. I’m here to watch this man cartwheel and backflip through defenders, while he’s catching his own 90-yard touchdown passes. I wouldn’t even mind if the Patriots lost this game if that’s the case.

At any rate, should be a fun game to watch. Looking forward to this one for sure.

Conclusion: YOU WANT MORE? Wasn’t that enough?

Final Score Prediction: Patriots 51 – Colts 17 (what?)


#1. Baltimore Ravens Vs. Tennessee Titans @ Northumberland Development Project. October 15th, 2023.

Okay, I don’t really like either of these teams, so you kinda have to commend me for putting this game first instead of the Patriots game. The only thing I like about the Titans is Mike Vrabel, and the only thing I ever liked about the Ravens (besides their color scheme) was Tony Siragusa.

That being said, this is probably the most solid game on this list in terms of competitiveness, star power, and playoff implications. It checks all the boxes and even has the added bonus of being a serious rivalry match-up. These two teams hate each other and their record when playing against each other is astoundingly even, currently sitting at 13-13. This is a top ten NFL rivalry by any metric, which is usually enough reason to watch a game without the other three prerequisites I just mentioned.

As for star power, the Ravens are home to the highest-paid QB in league history: Runningback Lamar Jackson.

Seriously, every time I’ve watched this kid play it’s been absolutely unbelievable. He could break something open on literally any play, and the rest of the NFL can vehemently vouch for this. When you watch him play, sometimes it feels like you’re watching somebody playing Madden with Michael Vick against one of the European teams I mentioned earlier (even though that’s not technically possible since the NFL Europe teams and Michael Vick were never available in the same edition of Madden).

There’s no chance his body holds up for a Brady or Favre-type career in terms of longevity, but half the fun of watching him run as he does is knowing that it could literally all be over in one single missed step and the ensuing hit that comes after. Nobody’s ever really played the game like Lamar Jackson before, and it’s been incredibly fun to watch him play, even if he did muck up a couple of my parlays last year with his frustratingly frequent last-second heroics.

At any rate, the Titans are probably screwed here, and this season too probably, while we’re on the topic. Their defense is solid, but their offense has become stagnant in recent years, and it’s hard to imagine Vrabel somehow getting another Titans team to overperform this season… Yet, somehow he will. It’s the Patriot’s way, I guess? The Titans will be a wild card team every year, forever, until the sun burns explodes and Planet Earth turns to ashes.

Even then, somehow, they’d find a way.

Conclusion: A super-tight, old-school slugfest-type rivalry game. The difference maker will be the player on the field with the most star power not surprisingly, Lamar Jackson. The game will be incredibly close and he’ll need to do everything he can in order to simply put up an average stat line. But that’s all he has to do. Who’s the QB for the Titans again? Malik Willis? Will Levis? Ryan Tannehill? Let’s look at Malik Willis’s stats from 2023 real quick before we wrap this up…

31 completions on 61 passing attempts for a 50.8% completion percentage, 276 yards passing, zero touchdowns, and three interceptions… and that was through like six games or so.

Final Score Prediction: Ravens 31 – Titans 20


As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to address your hate comments to Rex Ryan on Twitter. If you’d like to thank me for any reason, I implore you to thank yourself instead, because you are a wonderful person and it’s worth reminding yourself of that sometimes.

Go Europe!


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