The popularity of the NFL in the UK is higher than it ever has been, particularly with another four regular season games taking place in London.
With games having been regularly played at Wembley, the link between football and the NFL has never been closer with the investment that the sport has made in the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The league initially contributed £10million to the project, the first part of a significant contribution to the overall cost, and will also pay the club a set fee every time it uses the venue. The new stadium has a retractable synthetic surface, set beneath the grass pitch, which will be used for NFL games.
Spurs will use the artificial surface for events including concerts, which is why the NFL would not foot the entire bill for it. However, the organisation will pay for other features including four NFL-sized locker rooms and additional medical and media suites. The total investment is a significant step towards the sport having a permanent franchise in London.
The stadium will host its first NFL game when the Chicago Bears play the Oakland Raiders on 6 October. The £1billion multi-purpose venue will also host the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers just a week later.
The 62,062-seater arena was due to host its first NFL game in 2018 as part of a 10-year agreement with the league, only for it to be switched to Wembley because of delays in its construction.
All the more reason not to get into the sport, if of course, you have not done so already. If you are struggling to decide which NFL team you should support, here are the Premier League comparisons to help you make the right choice.
Arsenal – New Orleans Saints
There are two key facets to every football team: attack and defence. It seems, however, that neither Arsenal nor the Saints have worked that out yet.
Arsenal’s defence has been non-existent for years, with Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery both relying on their electric attackers to win them games. The Saints are one of the best attacking outfits, led by future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, but, while their defence has improved recently, it has consistently ranked among the worst in the league over the past 10 years.
As a result, both teams have failed to win a title for more than a decade, despite being in contention on a regular basis.
Aston Villa – San Francisco 49ers
These are two teams with incredible history – five Super Bowls for the 49ers and 20 major trophies for Villa – but both have struggled in recent years.
Both are currently led by young talents – Jack Grealish and Jimmy Garoppolo – widely known for their appearance as well as their talent.
Bournemouth – Los Angeles Chargers
Dignity Health Sports Park is comfortably the smallest stadium in the NFL with a capacity of just 27,000, while the Vitality is the Premier League’s equivalent at just 11,329. Both teams play their football within a bucket and spade’s throw of some beautiful beaches, and both are yet to win their first major title.
N.B. This comparison will be short-lived: the Chargers are set to move into the 70,000-capacity Los Angeles Stadium in 2020.
Brighton & Hove Albion – Arizona Cardinals
Just as the Seagulls have taken a punt on Graham Potter, the Cardinals have placed their faith in 40-year-old Kliff Kingsbury, who has never held a head-coaching role in the NFL before. Both teams have made exciting acquisitions in the off-season, with Brighton signing Neal Maupay for £20million and Arizona drafting college superstar Kyler Murray.
Burnley – Buffalo Bills
New Era Field is the Turf Moor of the NFL: old, ugly, and an extremely tough place to go. Both the Bills and Burnley are always ready to cause an upset at home. Unfortunately for them, however, a lack of world-class talent means that silverware is a long way off.
Chelsea – Miami Dolphins
The turquoise and orange livery. The leaping dolphin logo. The only perfect season in league history. Miami are one of the NFL’s truly iconic teams.
Chelsea, with their all-blue kit, the roaring lion and their five titles are one of the few Premier League teams who come close. Despite all that historical success, the key comparison here can be found in far more recent events.
The Dolphins sacked head coach Adam Gase and brought in the young, untested Brian Flores, much like Chelsea replaced Maurizio Sarri with club legend and managerial novice Frank Lampard. These are exciting yet uncertain times for both teams, and the season ahead will be fascinating.
Everton – New York Jets
The Jets are a franchise with rich history, winning their sole NFL Championship in 1968, the first year it became known as the Super Bowl. Like Everton, their history has created a passionate fanbase, but both teams have been overshadowed by their noisy neighbours in recent times.
Leicester City – Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles weren’t quite 5000/1 outsiders to win the Super Bowl in 2017/18, but they were priced at 50/1 before the season started. Their unexpected success means there is a clear affinity with the Foxes, who shocked the world of football (and the bookies) by winning the Premier League in 2015/16.
Liverpool – Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys were once a dominant force in the NFL, reaching eight and winning five Super Bowls between 1970 and 1995, while compiling a record 20 consecutive winning seasons.
Liverpool were simultaneously enjoying a similar period of supremacy, winning 11 league titles across the same time period. Despite both teams enduring a lengthy title drought, their fans will never fail to let you know about their historical success.
Luckily for them, they may not have to hark back to the glory days for much longer – both teams have assembled talented groups now capable of winning their first title in a long time.
Manchester City – Los Angeles Rams
Spending equals success. That has been the way for both City and the Rams in recent years.
City have been transformed from perennially average to the Premier League’s most dominant team, while the Rams have left behind their blues in St. Louis to become Super Bowl contenders in the City of Angels. The comparison does not stop there. Like Pep Guardiola, head coach Sean McVay is a young, hungry leader who has taken the NFL by storm with his novel approach.
Many are trying to replicate their methods and success, but none have matched them as of yet.
Manchester United – New England Patriots
Nothing breeds hatred like success, and both United and the Patriots have seen plenty of that over the course of their history.
United are the most despised team in England, with their 20 league titles and unmatched global fanbase drawing jealous glances from across the division. The Patriots are the NFL’s equivalent, with abrasive coach Bill Belichick and golden boy Tom Brady leading them to a record-equalling sixth Super Bowl last season.
If you’re hunting NFL glory then picking the Patriots as your team is the sensible move.
Newcastle United – Washington Redskins
Redskins owner Dan Snyder has overstayed his welcome in Washington, with his poor stewardship of the historically-successful franchise seeing them reach the play-offs just four times since he took over in 1999.
Sound familiar, Newcastle fans?
Norwich City – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs are one of the NFL’s most inconsistent teams but look set for a promising season under new head coach Bruce Arians. Norwich, meanwhile, have been in and out of the Premier League like a yo-yo over the past decade, but their impressive German coach Daniel Farke could be the man to change that.
Sheffield United – Pittsburgh Steelers
Sheffield is the Steel City and, if you hadn’t guessed already, so is Pittsburgh.
Both the Steelers and the Blades were named after their city’s industrial roots, and both are looking to rediscover former glories.
United have just returned to the Premier League for the first time in almost 15 years, while the Steelers have not won a Super Bowl since 2008 and missed out on the play-offs entirely last year.
Southampton – Cleveland Browns
Just as Southampton boldly swapped Mark Hughes for Ralph Hasenhuttl in the middle of last season, the Browns sacked Hue Jackson and handed Freddie Kitchens his first ever head-coaching role. Both teams experienced a serious upturn in form, and look set for breakout campaigns with some exciting talent on show.
Tottenham Hotspur– Atlanta Falcons
Imagine being 4-0 up in a Premier League title showdown and blowing it. That is essentially what the Falcons managed in the 2016 Super Bowl as they surrendered a 28-3 lead to the Patriots. Did I hear you say Spursy?
Like Tottenham, the Falcons are one of the league’s most exciting attacking units, led by quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones.
In Dan Quinn they have a coach who has impressed throughout his career but is yet to win the title, much like Mauricio Pochettino.
Some smart business in the off-season means Atlanta remain in the mix ahead of the upcoming campaign, with Spurs making some similarly shrewd moves in the transfer market.
Watford – Carolina Panthers
In Troy Deeney, Watford have an outspoken, charismatic leader whose mouth has occasionally landed him in trouble over the years. The Panthers have a similar character in star quarterback Cam Newton.
Both clubs have been one step away from a first major trophy in recent years, before ultimately falling short.
West Ham United – Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota upped sticks and moved into the impressive US Bank Stadium in 2016, the same year that the Hammers left the Boleyn behind for the London Stadium.
Both teams are led into this season by highly-respected coaches, with hopes high after building strong squads in the off-season.
Wolverhampton Wanderers – Indianapolis Colts
The Colts have spent several years in the wilderness since their last Super Bowl appearance in 2009, but a recent resurgence saw them reach the play-offs last season and puts them among the outside contenders this time round.
Both Frank Reich and Nuno Espirito Santo have proven themselves at the top and are now looking for silverware to take their teams to the next level.
If you have not worked it out already, who are Palace compared to?
Crystal Palace – Seattle Seahawks
Seahawks fans and Palace fans would get on. Seattle supporters, known as the 12th man, have twice set the Guinness World Record for the loudest crowd at a sporting event, while the Palace faithful are widely recognised as some of the most passionate in England.
Both teams are headed by a supreme talent – Russell Wilson for the Seahawks and Wilfried Zaha for Palace – who they occasionally rely upon too much.