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'Perfect for the Bills' | How Buffalo's ever-growing fan base is gaining traction in London

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The NFL has held regular season games in London since the 2007 season, a total of 34 games spanning 16 seasons. The 35th installment has a chance to be a historic one.

There has never been a London NFL game featuring two teams that made the playoffs the same season. With the AFC East first-place Bills (3-1) coming in with a three-game win streak and the Jaguars (2-2) in a four-way split with the other three AFC South teams for first place, this may be a matchup that London remembers for a long time.

"It's a very real chance of that happening, which is another really nice storyline just to kind of put it in the history books," said Cameron Hogwood, a London-based NFL reporter for Sky Sports.

It's also the first-ever London matchup between two AFC teams with a .500 or better record.

The last time the Bills went to London, things were a lot different for the franchise. Deep in a playoff drought, they lost 34-31 to the Jaguars in 2015. Fast forward to 2023, the Bills are one of the premier brands in the NFL, reaching the playoffs each of the last four years.

They are a sought-after team for TV ratings in the United States. In 2023 alone, the Bills have 11 matchups in either a primetime or national window. Now, they'll headline the second London game of the season.

"Nothing expands your brand like winning," Bills Wall of Famer Steve Tasker said. "Everybody wants to see these guys."

Check out the best travel photos from the team's takeoff for its Week 5 contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. This gallery is presented by Imagine Staffing.

Tasker, who played two International preseason games during his Bills career, one in London (1991) and the other in Berlin (1993), believes this trip is a great opportunity for the franchise to showcase their success to a different audience — and hopefully pick up new fans along the way.

"This is perfect for the Bills," he said. "This is why they want to go over. You want to continue to compete to add as many fans as possible."

The Bills arrived in London Friday morning, checked in at their hotel and shortly thereafter went out for a walk-thru practice. There's no doubt the team sees this weekend as a chance to make an impression on a new fan base.

"Win or lose, we want to come here and represent the Buffalo Bills fan of Western New York, the Bills fans across world and show people who we are and how we how we do things," head coach Sean McDermott said during his press conference in London.

This weekend will be a one gigantic melting pot of longtime Bills fans, and fans abroad experiencing the new-age Bills — headlined by star players QB Josh Allen and WR Stefon Diggs — for the very first time.

"It does feel like a huge deal that Josh Allen and the Bills are coming over, because we're talking about legitimate contenders and contenders for a few years now, " said Hogwood, who will be covering the game in person.

The site for Sunday's matchup will be played at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, a $1 billion facility that opened in 2019 with a capacity nearing 63,000. The stadium is the primary inspiration in the design of the New Bills Stadium set to open in time for the 2026 NFL season.

The Bills will wear blue jerseys, white pants and blue socks when they face the Jacksonville Jaguars in London on Sunday.

With seating that is constructed more vertically, there's the feeling that fans are on top of the field more so than other stadiums. The result is an intimate atmosphere that will give Bills fans a taste at what they can expect at the New Bills Stadium.

"I think they'll be blown away," Hogwood said. "It's kind of a match made in heaven with the atmosphere we know Bills fans can create."

In a true Buffalo Bills spirit, the first-ever soccer match played at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium featured a Bills connection when Tottenham played against Crystal Palace F.C. in 2019.

Crystal Palace's co-owner and chairman Steve Parish has been a longtime Bills fan since NFL games started getting broadcast in the UK during the 1980s. Parish settled on the Bills as his team as they had an "underdog feel" at the time that he embraced. 

One of Parish's favorite recent memories of the Bills is seeing them in person at MetLife Stadium in 2019 when Buffalo rallied from down 0-16 to win 17-16 in Week 1. 

"I was there for the kind of resurgence of the team," he said. "It's lovely to have another team, really that I care about and it's fantastic that they're doing so well again."

In the build up to this year's London game, Parish says you can tell it's going to be a must-see event in London for sports fans that want more of the NFL.

"Everybody knows when the NFL is in town," Parish said. "I think it's a symbol of America. It kind of epitomizes America because it's so different from anything we've got."

The Bills want to make this weekend special as possible for fans in London who don't often get to see their favorite team in person.

To make good on that commitment, Buffalo offensive tackle Dion Dawkins, last season's Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, personally invited Cullen Maher, a young Bills fan living in London, and his family to come to Sunday's game.

During a video call with Dawkins, an ecstatic Cullen raised his fists in disbelief and said he couldn't wait to represent Bills Mafia with his family.

This weekend will showcase that the relationship the Bills have with fans of all ages is still growing and the London game will only amplify that further.

"With this Bills organization and with this energy we have here, it's beautiful," Dawkins said. "We're connecting it."

Check out a few photos as the team arrives at its London-based headquarters in advance of Sunday's game against Jacksonville.

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