Having two of the league’s worst teams start off this season’s London Series is the modern-day equivalent of spilling tea into Boston Harbor. Whether Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson throws three touchdowns in a 21-point victory or turns the ball over in the final minute, the game is guaranteed to continue an intriguing trend in London.
Zach Wilson and the Jets will continue perhaps the NFL’s most unfortunate streak in Week 5
The Jets and Falcons’ trip to England will mark the NFL’s 29th game in London, and it will also mark the 29th time that the London-based game will involve two teams without winning records.
That’s not a jab at the Jets, either. From the time that Eli Manning and a 5-2 New York Giants team faced a winless Miami Dolphins team in October 2007 to now, every game has involved at least one team with a non-winning record. That will continue on Sunday when these two 1-3 teams square off.
Now, it’s important to note that 20 of the first 28 matchups involved games where one of the teams had a winning record. In 2011, for example, Jay Cutler led a 3-3 Chicago Bears team into London against the 4-2 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Chicago’s defense intercepted Buccaneers quarterback Josh Freeman four times in a 24-18 victory.
This streak does not exist primarily because of games like the 2013 showdown between the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers, both of which entered play at 0-3.
You can search the NFL record books and verified Twitter accounts. We guarantee there aren’t many more interesting 14-season trends (the NFL didn’t play any overseas games last year) than this one.
It’s hard to blame the NFL for a lack of winning teams in the London Series
At first glance, you might want to blame the NFL for this streak, either for constantly sending bad teams (read: the pre-Sean McVay Los Angeles Rams) to London or for having overseas games occur as early as Week 3.
We’ll put part of the blame on the NFL, sure. However, let’s also consider the fact that 20 of the first 28 matchups, or 71%, involved at least one team with a winning record, regardless of if the game occurred in Week 3 or Week 9.
Consider a game like the 2016 showdown between the Washington Football Team and the Cincinnati Bengals, two reigning division champions. Washington entered play at 4-3, and the Bengals had a 3-4 record. That’s bad luck more than anything. Similarly, a 2009 matchup between the 4-2 New England Patriots and 0-6 Buccaneers featured teams that went a combined 20-12 in 2008.
Seven of the 28 games involved one team with a winning record and the other entering play at .500. Most recently, Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans (5-3) filled one side of that coin. Houston defeated the 4-4 Jaguars, 26-3, on Nov. 3, 2019.
Interestingly, the Falcons and Jets each participated in a game where one team had a winning record. Atlanta fell to 2-6 after an overseas loss to the Detroit Lions in October 2014, while Ryan Fitzpatrick helped the Jets move to 3-1 following a victory over the Dolphins a year later.
Yes, you read that correctly. The Jets were once above .500 during a season.
The streak is guaranteed to continue when the Dolphins and Jaguars face off in Week 6
Whoever wins this highly-anticipated Week 5 matchup will move to 2-3. The Jets would even match their win total from a year ago. Who says the NFL can’t be exciting?
Unfortunately for the NFL, the streak is guaranteed to reach 30 games in Week 6. The Dolphins and Jaguars, teams that entered Week 5 with a combined one victory, will face off in London on Sunday, Oct. 17.
Only time will tell if those in attendance will get to say they attended the final game of the Urban Meyer era. That’d probably represent the most exciting thing the overseas fans could ever take away from a game involving the Jaguars.
With the NFL’s luck, the streak will reach 33 next year even if they send three playoff teams and the Jaguars. Welcome to life in professional football.