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NFL

Vikings vs Saints in London: What to know about NFL’s international series games

As the New Orleans Saints square off with the Minnesota Vikings in the first London game of the season, we look at the fixture and the rivalry

Update:
As the New Orleans Saints square off with the Minnesota Vikings in the first London game of the season, we look at the fixture and the rivalry
Adam BettcherAFP

The first London game of the NFL season is here, with the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints across the pond in this Week 4 matchup.

New Orleans is 1-2 coming off of back-to-back losses to the Bucs and Panthers and looking for redemption. News is mixed for them, however, with reports that Jameis Winston has not worked out with the team, leading to Taysom Hill taking practice reps under center.

Meanwhile, the Vikings are 2-1, having dominated the Packers in their season opener before dropping a big loss to the Eagles. They managed to get Jordan Jefferson involved in a dramatic win over the Lions in Week 3, and will be looking to do that again against the Saints.

Why does the NFL play in London?

Since 2006, the NFL has consistently pursued an international agenda by playing select regular-season games outside of the United States. The first came in 2005, as a one-off game in Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca which drew nearly 104,000 spectators, an NFL record. The following year, the NFL inaugurated the International Series, and progressively raised the ante from a single regular-season game to now four games.

With the International Series now including games in both London and Mexico, the NFL has plans to expand the series to include games in Germany in 2024, with an eye on other venues in years to come, with possibilities being discussed for sites including Spain, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, and China.

Part of the NFL’s future aims are reportedly to have a full franchise located in London. While covid put the dampeners on any potential timescale, the league would seem to still have an interest in the inclusion of the UK and European market.

There are a host of obstacles to any future London franchise, including tax negotiations with the UK government, negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with the players, the assent of the owners, and the long-term impact that the UK leaving the European Union will have on the economy of the UK. Any one of these issues has the potential to shelve the NFL’s plans indefinitely.

Is there a rivalry between the Saints and Vikings?

Wherever the game is played, these two teams have a history that goes back decades. The Saints’ very first playoff game in franchise history was a 44-10 loss to the Vikings in 1987. Over the following years, they have faced each other in the post season four times, with the Saints winning only one, giving the New Orleans fanbase something of a chip on their shoulder when it comes to the Vikings.

Over all, the Vikings are 23-13 against New Orleans all-time, and while they are not in the same division, there is definitely something of a rivalry going on.

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