NFL International series: NFL in London makes debut at Tottenham's new stadium as Oakland Raiders play Chicago Bears

Tottenham at their new stadium for the first time against Crystal Palace
Tottenham at their new stadium for the first time against Crystal Palace

The future of NFL in the UK will take another step forward on Sunday as the Chicago Bears and Oakland Raiders will play the first game at Tottenham's new stadium.

Two games will be played at Spurs with two games still played at Wembley this season, but it is the fact that Tottenham's shiny new stadium in north London was built specifically with NFL in mind that is the big step forward.

The Raiders were due to play the Seattle Seahawks at Tottenham last season, but delays to the construction meant that game last October was moved.

A week after the Raiders v Bears, the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers play as the NFL experiment with back-to-back games at Spurs, similar to what they'll do at Wembley at the end of October.

Spurs' stadium has a retractable grass pitch for football held above an artificial surface for NFL games, while the locker rooms are of the extra large variety to accommodate the huge 53-man teams that will play there.

Both the stadium being NFL ready and the fixture schedule this season is all part of the NFL's plan to prove that a permanent team could be located in London - with Spurs the more likely home stadium than Wembley at the moment.

"What we're doing is giving them first-hand experience of how the game looks, what the team experience is like, how the fans react whether it be in a big bowl with 85,000 fans or a more intimate one with 60,000 - if 60,000 can be intimate," NFL UK managing director Alistair Kirkwood told PA.

"If it ends up with a franchise here, we will have a body of work for an owner to make a decision where they would like to play."

Praise has been lavished upon Tottenham's new stadium by both football and NFL players - with Raiders quarterback Derek Carr labelling it as the best stadium he's ever seen ahead of playing there on Sunday.

The one downside is perhaps the lack of space surrounding the stadium for fans to hold a traditional tailgate party similar to the ones held outside Wembley, but there will be plenty of events happening inside the stadium when gates open three hours before kick-off.

There's also going to be a half-time show, similar to the one held at the Super Bowl, for the first time in London.

"I'm going to be fascinated to see whether what I believe will take place actually occurs," Kirkwood added. "I think when it's in Spurs mode it's a football experience and when it's in NFL mode it's an American football experience."

Big game storylines

There could not be a more headline-grabbing team than the Oakland Raiders to grace the first NFL game at Spurs, with John Gruden's men the star of the pre-season 'Hard Knocks' TV show that turned into a soap opera.

Antonio Brown was the star of the summer for all the wrong reasons before he eventually left for a brief stint with champions the New England Patriots.

Oakland beat the Indianapolis Colts last week to move to an even 2-2 record for the season, but still they were mired in controversy when linebacker Vontaze Burfict was banned for the season after a vicious late hit on Colts tight end Jack Doyle.

Check out our preview & best bets for Week Five in the NFL
Check out our preview & best bets for Week Five in the NFL

The Chicago Bears have responded to an opening night defeat to rivals Green Bay by winning three in a row, even when losing quarterback Mitchell Trubisky last week through injury - veteran back-up Chase Daniel will start on Sunday.

The Bears defence is the star of this match-up, with their main man ironically being former Oakland star Khalil Mack - who left the raiders after a big fall-out over a new contract.

He's continued to be a one-man wrecking crew in Chicago, and has recorded just one fewer sack than the entire raiders defence since leaving Oakland - and one of the major battles on Sunday will be Mack trying to chase down his close friend but opposing quarterback Carr.

There's also a difference in strategy between the two teams as Oakland, after losing badly last year when arriving late in the week, flew over on Monday, while Chicago are going for the hit-and-run method after only touching down at Heathrow on Friday.

Live coverage of Chicago Bears @ Oakland Raiders at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium will be on Sky Sports Action from 5pm on Sunday 6th October. You can also watch a preview on The NFL Show on Saturday from 11.50pm on BBC One and iPlayer, plus post-match highlights on Sunday from 11.45pm on BBC One and iPlayer.

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