A week after the Atlanta Falcons and New York Jets led the NFL's return to London, Sunday's action will once more open up in England.
For the fifth time in franchise history, the Miami Dolphins will play a game in the United Kingdom as they face 2021 No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
It will mark a league-record eighth time in which the Jaguars play in England and pits the two teams that have played the most often in London.
It's a long trip for two teams badly in search of a victory, as the Dolphins are aiming to end a four-game skid and the Jaguars are looking to end a 20-game losing streak that's the second-longest of the Super Bowl era.
A year ago, the NFL's run of international action took a one-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but now it's back for the second week in a row.
Here are three things to watch Sunday morning when the Dolphins and Jaguars collide in England:
- No. 1 goes to London. A week after 2021 NFL Draft No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson fell short of becoming the first rookie quarterback to win a start in London, No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence will look to do so. Rookie QBs are 0-5 in London, per NFL Research. And, of course, Lawrence is 0-5 in his brief NFL career. An end to both those streaks would be a boon for Lawrence and the Jaguars. The promise and potential of Lawrence has come into view in each of the last two weeks against the Bengals and Titans, but overall, his rookie season has been a struggle. Evidence comes in the numbers: 59.4 completion percentage (30th in NFL), 6-8 TD-INT (30th) and a 71.3 passer rating (30th). Fortunately for Lawrence, the Dolphins defense, which was the catalyst of a promising 2020 campaign, has underwhelmed so far and enters England ranked 30th in total defense and 26th against the pass. The setting might just be right for Lawrence and head coach Urban Meyer's first NFL wins to be had across the Atlantic.
- Tua returns. Back after missing three games due to busted ribs, Tua Tagovailoa returns for a ballyhooed matchup against Lawrence in a rematch of the 2018 College Football Playoff National Championship in which Lawrence's Clemson squad downed Tagovailoa's Alabama team, 44-16. Oh, how the autumns have changed for each of these signal-callers. Tagovailoa's brief 2021 campaign so far has consisted of a one-point Week 1 win over the Patriots in which Tagovailoa was largely outplayed by former 'Bama teammate Mac Jones, and a 1-for-4 showing before sustaining his rib injury in a shutout loss to the Bills in Week 2. Though Tagovailoa's latest comeback from injury will bring with it much fanfare and hope, the question of whether he can be the Dolphins' franchise QB of the future is still very much unanswered. With the Dolphins looking to end a lengthy losing streak, Tagovailoa has the chance to return to the field and then return to Miami from London as a homecoming king with a triumph in hand. Tua's comeback against a college foe who once memorably bested him is reason enough to start Sunday early.
- Diamonds in the rough. Though victories have been elusive for each of these Floridian teams, promising seasons are still being put forth individually. A season after he was all but the lone offensive highlight for the one-win Jags, running back James Robinson is largely following suit despite the franchise stunningly taking another back (the injured Travis Etienne) in the first round. Robinson is coming off a career-high 149 yards rushing in Week 5 and has scored in each of the last three games. K'Lavon Chaisson, a 2020 first-round pick for Jacksonville, is coming off his best game of the season, as the linebacker, who's still just 22, tallied six tackles, a sack, three QB hits and two tackles for loss. For the Dolphins, 2019 first-round pick Christian Wilkins and veteran edge Emmanuel Ogbah are quietly having sensational seasons as they sport Pro Football Focus grades of 79.1 and 85.4, respectively, going into Sunday. Offensively, running back Myles Gaskin continues to shoulder the rushing load and has become an asset out of the backfield. Though he's not lighting the field on fire, Gaskin has kept the Fins afloat as the much-ballyhooed wide receiving corps has yet to find its footing.