By Homero De la Fuente, CNN
The NFL returns to London on Sunday as the Minnesota Vikings (2-1) and New Orleans Saints (1-2) contest the first of five international slate of games scheduled this season.
With Justin Jefferson and the Vikings taking on Alvin Kamara and the Saints at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Sunday’s game will mark the 100th game played outside of the US regular and preseason.
After edging out a victory against the Detroit Lions in week 3, the Vikings are looking to reprise the magic of the ‘Minneapolis Miracle’ — Stefon Diggs scored a remarkable 61-yard touchdown in a NFC Divisional semifinal four years ago — against a struggling Saints team, which will be without starting quarterback Jameis Winston and All-Pro wide receiver Michael Thomas.
This year, 10 teams will travel to three different countries, including the first-ever regular season game in Germany, when Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Seattle Seahawks at Allianz Arena — home of Bundesliga football club Bayern Munich — in November.
During weeks 4 and 5 over 200 players, coaches and executives will celebrate their heritage by sporting international flags on their helmets and attire.
Players like Arizona Cardinals star Kyler Murray, who will don a South Korea flag, and Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown — Germany’s flag will be on his helmet — will highlight the NFL’s global diversity within the league.
“My mom is from Germany, so having German grandparents, speaking German, every summer the heritage and culture has been a part of my whole life,” said St. Brown.
“I’m half German. It’s a part of me. I love it. In my young career, I have already been amazed to see the influence my culture and heritage has had and I’m excited to continue to see the German representation have an impact within our game.”
Bucs return home following Hurricane Ian
Brady and the Bucs (2-1) will play at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday night against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs (2-1).
Earlier this week, the Bucs were forced to practice at the Miami Dolphins’ team facility due to the impact of Hurricane Ian, leaving the primetime matchup in Tampa in limbo.
Despite the destruction caused by the hurricane, the team confirmed the game would go on as scheduled, with Brady highlighting how the match could serve as a moment where fans can come together.
“I always feel like sports has brought people together over a long period of time,” Brady said on Thursday during a regularly scheduled media session.
“Watching different adversities, whether that was 9/11, whether that was Katrina, sports has an amazing way of healing wounds and bringing people together and bringing communities together and start to cheer for a common interest for the common good.”
Weather concerns aside, both teams enter week 4 coming off their first losses of the season.
In a rematch of Super Bowl LV, in which Brady won his seventh career championship, the two superstar quarterbacks will meet again for a sixth time and first since the title game.
Brady, who owns a 3-2 record over Mahomes, will enter Sunday’s game with the return of some much-needed offensive weapons — star wide receiver Mike Evans is back from his one-game suspension for an on field scuffle with New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore.
However receivers Chris Godwin and Julio, who have been out since the season opened with hamstring and knee injuries, are doubts for the Bucs.
“Any time you get your starters back you’ll happy to have them back and have them healthy,” said Bucs head coach Todd Bowles on Friday about the possibility of having the three wide receivers back on the field. “So, we just want to make sure they’re all healthy when they come back.”
The game on Sunday is at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC.
Lamar Jackson & Josh Allen clash in AFC heavyweight showdown
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has started the season at a historic pace, tallying 12 total touchdowns through the first three weeks of the season while leading the team to a 2-1 record.
Jackson, who is playing on the final year of his contract, will lead the Ravens against fellow MVP candidate Josh Allen and the tough Buffalo Bills defense.
Both teams have suffered their only defeats this season in epic showdowns against the resilient Miami Dolphins.
The 2018 NFL first round picks have been a big part of their team’s early success as Allen is coming off a 400-plus yard passing game against the Dolphins, and at nine passing touchdowns trails only Jackson for most this season.
Jackson and Allen are the only two players in the NFL’s 103-year history to reach both nine touchdown passes and 100 rushing yards over the first three games of a season.
Sunday’s showdown kicks off at 1 p.m. ET on CBS.
NFC Championship rematch: Super Bowl Champion Rams visit in-state rival 49ers
The reigning Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams (2-1) will travel to San Francisco to take on the division and in-state rival 49ers (1-2) on Monday Night Football.
In recent years, the 49ers have been the Rams’ Achilles heel, as Los Angeles has failed to notch a victory at Levi’s Stadium since 2018.
Notably, before their victory in the NFC Championship last season, the Rams had lost six games in a row to San Francisco.
After losing quarterback Trey Lance for the season with an ankle injury in week 2, Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers will look to continue their recent success against the Rams to fix a rough start to the season in which they sport a 1-2 record in the highly competitive NFC West.
The game between the NFC West rivals kicks off on Monday at 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN.
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