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Three games, a new stadium and at least three teams that have not previously played a regular-season game in London will be featured at the UK International Series in 2016.
The Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC South division matchup at Wembley Stadium during Week 4. The first-ever NFL game at Twickenham Stadium will take place in Week 7 — when the Los Angeles Rams host the team that finishes in the same spot in the standings in the NFC East as the Rams do in the NFC West, based on the NFL’s scheduling formula. The series wraps up in Week 8, when Cincinnati hosts Washington at Wembley Stadium.
According to the scheduling formula, any of the four NFC East teams could be the Rams’ opponent in the Week 7 game. That could mean return visits for the Dallas Cowboys or New York Giants, or a first-ever UK trip for the Philadelphia Eagles. If Washington is the opponent, it would be the first team to play consecutive games in London.
“The passion our UK fans have shown for the NFL is overwhelming,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We are very appreciative of the strong and growing fan support — not only for the games, but for all of the related NFL events we host in the UK throughout the year. We look forward to welcoming new fans to their first NFL game in 2016 and welcoming back thousands of others that are helping our sport grow to new levels of popularity in London and beyond.”
Game times, and a possible additional International Series game outside the UK, will be announced at a later date. Jacksonville will return to London for a fourth consecutive year. The Jaguars initially committed to playing one home game each season at Wembley Stadium from 2013 through 2016. In October, they extended that commitment through 2020.
The Colts, Bengals and Washington are making their first regular-season appearances in the UK.
By the end of the 2016 season, either 23 or 24 teams will have played in London since the International Series began in 2007. Since then, the NFL has seen growth in the UK; the audience for the NFL’s Sunday games has more than doubled, and the Super Bowl audience has increased by more than 75 percent.
In addition, according to internal research, the NFL has a UK fan base of more than 13 million.
Participation in amateur football in the UK has risen by about 15 percent each year since 2007, with the latest figures showing that 40,000 people age 16 or older play regularly.