International Series 2019: Oakland Raiders and Chicago Bears meet in first game at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
The NFL will play their first game at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium this weekend (Photo: NFL)

The NFL will be taking another step forward in the UK when the Chicago Bears and Oakland Raiders face each other at the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday. 

Two games will be played at this brand-new stadium in 2019, as well as two at Wembley Stadium, but it’s the games in North London that have the fans on the edge of their seat. It’s been designed and built with both the football and NFL in mind and it is set to be some spectacle for supporters. 

This will be the fifth time the Raiders have played an International Series game, the fourth time in London, while the Bears have only been to England’s capital on one previous occasion and that was back in 2011. 

The first game at Tottenham’s new stadium was set to take place in 2018, but, due to the delays with the construction, it meant the game between the Raiders and Seattle Seahawks was moved to Wembley.

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Raiders looking to build on Colts victory 

In the grand scheme of things, the Raiders haven’t made a bad start in the first four weeks of the season, winning two and losing two of their games. 

Aside from all the Antonio Brown drama, the team seem to have settled and are back focussed on the bigger picture. In a thrilling game against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 4, they won 31-24. 

Wide-receiver Tyrell Williams, who had a touchdown reception in the victory over the Colts last weekend, hasn’t practiced all week and is questionable for the game against the Bears. 

The Raiders certainly learned a lesson from arriving late in the UK last season, with them going down 27-3 against the Seahawks. Head coach Jon Gruden and his side arrived earlier in the week.

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Bears without starting quarterback Trubisky in London 

The Bears have a couple of set-backs going into the game in London, with starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky out after picking up an injury during last week's 16-6 win over the Minnesota Vikings

Chase Daniel will be spearheading the offense for the second successive week, while wide-receiver Taylor Gabriel is also out of the game with concussion. 

Khalil Mack will be key for the Bears as they will look to get pressure on quarterback Derek Carr. The pass-rusher was with the Raiders before they traded him to the Bears in 2018, so it will be a big afternoon for him.

After opening their season with a loss to NFC North rivals, the Green Bay Packers, the Bears have won three-straight games. Their only ever previous appearance in London came back in 2011, when they beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-18 in front of 76,981 fans. 

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International Series Continues to Grow Bigger In The UK

Whether you work in the industry or whether you’re a fan of the NFL in the UK, this really is an exciting time for the NFL as they now have a stadium, which has been designed with the sport in mind. 

Having experienced two games at Wembley in the past, I felt the atmosphere was lacking at times, but it was still great to actually sit and watch those games in my own country. 

Nevertheless though, since the first game in 2007, between the New York Giants and the Miami Dolphins, it really is amazing to see how much the NFL has grown in the UK.

After these two games in North London, back-to-back, it will give a big indication whether we’re ready for a franchise in England or whether the league will allow more games in 2020 and beyond.