The bright lights of the now legendary Wembley Stadium arch shon gold and blue Sunday to celebrate the Rams 24-10 victory over the Bengals. Despite fears the attendance might be low, tickets were on re-sale prior to to game as low at £20 (well done to anyone who got one at that price!) over 83000 fans filled into Wembley, or “Rams house” as the announcer would have. It’s worth noting that despite the fears of a low attendance, at 83000 only the Cowboys AT&T stadium averaged higher attendance last year, that’s quite a feat for all involved with NFL in London!
In a career game for Cooper Kupp, 220 yards and a touchdown on 7 receptions, the Rams improved to 5-3 and head into their bye week third place in a very competitive NFC West. The Bengals had a difficult day and although only a few good plays off being in the game (an overturned touchdown with 8 seconds remaining would have made it 24-17, too little too late) their inconsistencies on both sides of the ball gave them the L and leaves them 0-8 for the season.
Despite being 4th in the league for passing yards, the obvious lack of talent surrounding him, AND it being his birthday, the Bengals decided Tuesday to bench Andy Dalton following the Rams game. 4th found rookie Ryan Finley have a shot when they resume following their bye week against their division rivals the Ravens, best of luck Ryan! There were rumors the Bengals could be active in the trade market but as the deadline passed Tuesday evening they’d stayed put and despite rumors the likes of AJ Green and Andy Dalton will remain Bengals – for now anyway.
Looking forward this Sundays game between London vets the Jags and UK rookies the Texans figures to be a much more competitive encounter as the AFC South rivals clash at 2.30PM GMT. Both teams come to London with wins the week before and are right in the mix in the AFC South which is, fun fact, the only division that hasn’t currently got a team with a losing record.
The Texans (5-3) lost all pro defensive end JJ Watt for the season this past Sunday due to a pectoral injury and figures to be a big loss for the Texans who are in a do-or-die mode for the season. Houston traded away two first round picks at the start of the season for offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil and receiver Kenny Stills and last week traded for Gareon Conley from the Raiders for some secondary help. The rising play of Deshaun Watson (2231 yards, 16Ts-5INT) along with arguable one of the best receivers in the league in DeAndre Hopkins features to make the Texans an exciting prospect to watch for the Wembley crowd and the bookies and most “experts” have them as close favorites.
The Jags make their annual trip to London following two consecutive wins and look to get revenge following the Texans week 2 13-12 win. The Jags (4-4) have had some controversy this season – trading away star cornerback Jaylen Ramsey to the Rams for two 1st round picks and having Ex Superbowl MVP quarterback Nick Fales out injured. Up stepped aviator wearing, mustache flaunting, 6th round rookie Gardner Minshew who’s taken the reigns better than most predicted and has a stellar 1976 yards to his name with 13 TDs and only 2 Interceptions. Minshew figures to be a big part of the Jags gameplay come Sunday and if continues to improve should keep his starting spot when Nick Foles returns to training in a few weeks.
Come 6pm Sunday NFL London will be finished for another season, what a set of games it’s been. Tottenham Hotspurs have showed they’ve got a truly great, NFL ready, stadium and Wembley has yet again showed what a fantastic venue it can be. There’s set to be a similar arrangement next year with 2 games at both Tottenham and Wembley, I for one am already looking forward to it!