The NFL continues to go global.
Because of the growing fan support of football in the United Kingdom, the league expanded its International Series to three regular-season games this season — including Sunday’s Dallas-Jacksonville contest at Wembley Stadium in London — and three more in 2015.
The 2015 schedule has Miami hosting the New York Jets in Week 4 on Oct. 4, Jacksonville hosting Buffalo in Week 7 on Oct. 25 and Kansas City hosting Detroit in Week 8 on Nov. 1. All games will be at Wembley Stadium.
The 2015 schedule features the first division game (Dolphins-Jets) and the first consecutive Sunday games. Times will be announced at a later date.
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Television ratings have shown substantial growth in the UK since 2006, with Sunday viewership of NFL games doubling and the Super Bowl audience having increased 75 percent.
Participation in amateur football in the UK has risen since the start of the International Series by approximately 15 percent per year. The International Series began Oct. 28, 2007, when the New York Giants beat Miami 13-10 en route to a victory in Super Bowl XLII.
The Jaguars on Sunday continue their commitment of giving up one regular-season home game for a game in London. The franchise played in the United Kingdom in 2013, and after this season is committed to 2015 and 2016.
Two other games have already been played at Wembley Stadium this season. Miami beat Oakland 38-14 in Week 4 and Detroit beat Atlanta 22-21 in Week 8.
The term American Bowl will be used a lot this week with the Cowboys playing Jacksonville in London.
But what is the American Bowl?
The NFL’s American Bowl series of preseason international games began in 1986 and ended in 2006.
The Chicago Bears, featuring William “The Refrigerator” Perry, and the Cowboys met in the first American Bowl game at London’s Wembley Stadium in 1986. The Bears beat the Cowboys 17-6 in front of a crowd of 82,699. Eight consecutive American Bowl games were played in London from 1986-1993.
In 1989, the NFL expanded the series to Tokyo. San Francisco beat the Los Angeles Rams 16-13 in overtime at the new Tokyo Dome. Tokyo hosted a record 11 American Bowl games. The series came to Osaka, Japan, in 2002 with Washington beating San Francisco 38-7 at the Osaka Dome in the debut of Redskins coach Steve Spurrier.
Continental Europe and a “new” Berlin was the site of an American Bowl for the first time in 1990 when the Rams beat Kansas City 19-3 at Olympic Stadium. Five American Bowl games were played in Berlin, the last in 1994 when the New York Giants beat San Diego 28-20.
In 1994, the largest crowd in the history of the NFL — 112,376 — packed Azteca Stadium in Mexico City to witness the first American Bowl in Mexico between the Cowboys and Houston Oilers. Houston beat the then-defending Super Bowl champion Cowboys 6-0.
The second- and fourth-largest in-stadium crowds took place at Azteca Stadium. In 1998, 106,424 watched New England’s 21-3 win over Dallas and 104,629 saw Miami beat Denver 38-19 in 1997.
Canada has hosted four American Bowls. The NFL visited Vancouver for the first time in 1998 when San Francisco and Seattle met in BC Place. Buffalo played two games in Toronto’s SkyDome, in 1997 against Green Bay and in 1995 against Dallas. The Steelers and Patriots met in the first American Bowl in Canada in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium in 1990.
In 1999, the NFL traveled to Sydney, Australia, for the first time, attracting a crowd of 73,811 at Stadium Australia, the centerpiece for the 2000 Olympic Games. The Broncos beat the Chargers 20-17.
Hardly know you
The Cowboys have played Jacksonville only five times, with the Jaguars leading the series 3-2. Dallas was the home team in four of those games. Four of their meetings were decided by a touchdown or less. Baltimore and Houston are the only teams the Cowboys have played less frequently (four each) than Jacksonville.
Source: NFL, Dallas Cowboys