NFL London Review: Could Canada Host the Super Bowl?
On Sunday, we saw the NFL London series wrap up with the Denver Broncos mounting a comeback victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium. It was a record-setting game for attendance at an NFL game, which contributed to a lively atmosphere for Russel Wilson and Trevor Lawrence.
The regular season expansion from 16 to 17 games was intended to bring American football to other parts of the world, and as Canadian NFL fans, we hope that will include Canada at some point. Beyond the London games this season, the NFL is also set to return to Mexico after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. The Mexico game will see the San Francisco 49ers take on the Arizona Cardinals on November 21.
A completely new country will get to host in Week 10 on November 13 when the Seattle Seahawks take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Allianz Arena in Munich – with the NFL odds already hotting up for that one. We’ll look back at how things turned out for the London games this month and discuss where Canada stands as a potential host for future NFL games.
NFL London: Minnesota Vikings vs New Orleans Saints
The first game of the NFL in London series was an NFC South vs NFC North affair featuring the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints in Week 4 on October 2. The sold-out game took place at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, where 60,639 people attended.
The game proved to be an exciting back-and-forth battle between both sides. Minnesota opened the scoring with a touchdown in the first quarter, and New Orleans responded with second string QB Andy Dalton passing for one in the second quarter. Shortly after, Vikings kicker Greg Joseph added three straight field goals to put the Vikings ahead 16-7. New Orleans RB Latavius Murray, who has since been acquired by the Broncos, ran in a touchdown near the end of the third, setting up an epic fourth quarter that saw the lead change hands several times. After an exchange of field goals, and a last-second missed 61-yard boot, the Vikings emerged as 28-25 victors.
Week 5 saw the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers face off for the second segment of NFL London—again at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Green Bay was coming off of three straight wins and were listed as 9-point favourites on the spread; it was their first time playing outside of the US. The Giants were 3-1 and coming off of a 20-12 victory over the Chicago Bears. QB Daniel Jones was still not 100% after suffering an ankle injury earlier in the season, but managed to play for the G-men.
The first half saw Aaron Rodgers pass for two touchdowns, which helped build a 10-point lead; however, the tide turned in the second half with New York starting their comeback to take a 27-20 lead in the final minutes. Green Bay forced a safety in the final minute of play, which set Rodgers up for a last-second Hail Mary pass, but the QB was sacked by Xavier McKinney which ran down the clock. That loss was the first of what would become three straight losses for Green Bay.
NFL London: Denver Broncos vs Jacksonville Jaguars
The third and final game of the NFL London series featured the Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars this past Sunday. The game had a record turnout of 86,215 at Wembley Stadium—and the atmosphere was electric.
The Jaguars were 1-point favourites, and as the spread suggested, the game was evenly split. Right out of the gates, the Broncos sputtered. Returning from a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined in Week 7, Russell Wilson was intercepted, sacked and threw an incomplete pass for a shaky start, leaving them down by seven. However, the feel of the game changed after the first quarter, and Wilson scored touchdowns in the second, third and fourth quarters. Their final touchdown, scored with under two minutes left in the game, was run in by Latavius Murray, which secured the 21-17 victory.
The Broncos are now 3-5 (SU and ATS) and have picked up extra fans across the pond. The Jags now have a losing streak of five straight games and face the Las Vegas Raiders next week.
Could Canada Host the Super Bowl?
Hosting the Super Bowl is a tall order for international destinations, but NFL London is proof it can be done successfully.
The NFL action is huge in Canada, with our CFL to NFL success stories article recently showing the link between the two national football leagues.
Weather is a major consideration, since the Super Bowl is played in February, and venues are required to have a roof, or a temperature greater than 10 degrees Celsius on game day. For that reason, a Canadian venue as host would need an indoor stadium. Canada does have three indoor stadiums, which include the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Olympic Stadium in Montreal and BC Place in Vancouver, and all three have hosted pre-season NFL games before.
However, the capacity requirement of a preseason game and the requirement of a Super Bowl are vastly different. Most Super Bowl games see crowds of about 70,000—the minimum requirement for seating in a host venue. Rogers Centre can seat up to 53,506 for American football, while BC Place can seat up to 54,405 and is home to the BC Lions of the CFL. The Olympic Stadium has a bit bigger capacity, but none of these meet the 70,000-seat threshold requirement without major renovation.
While there’s no doubt that Canadians would flock to a Super Bowl, odds are that a new venue would need to be constructed. That doesn’t mean Canada will be devoid of NFL action altogether; after the league announced its intent to find international hosts for regular season games, Canada was mentioned as a desirable option. Regular season NFL games have been played north of the border before when a series of Buffalo Bills games took place at Rogers Centre from 2008-2013. We hope that Canada gets another shot at hosting NFL games and maybe even one day a Super Bowl, because we are quickly becoming a football-loving nation.
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