IRVING, Texas – The 2014 season will mark another late bye week for the Cowboys, thanks to their trip overseas.
The NFL announced the dates for its 2014 International Series on Thursday, slotting the Cowboys into their game at London’s Wembley Stadium against Jacksonville during Week 10.
Thanks to a rule that mandates a bye week following an international trip, the Cowboys can look forward to their 2014 bye in Week 11 on Nov. 16. It’s quite a departure from recent history, as Dallas had its bye week between Week 4 and Week 6 from 2009-12.
The Cowboys and Jaguars’ will account for just one of three matchups at Wembley Stadium next season. The Raiders and Dolphins kick off the International Series with a Week 4 matchup on Sept. 28, with Oakland as the home team.
A month later, the Falcons will “host” the Lions in the second international game on Oct. 26, before the Jaguars “host” the Cowboys two weeks later.
Three games in 2013 is an increase from 2012, when the league played two games at Wembley. The Vikings downed the Steelers, 34-27, in Week 4 of this season, and San Francisco crushed Jacksonville, 42-10, last month in Week 8.
All told, there have been eight International Series games since the Giants defeated the Dolphins, 13-10, in 2007. The league played one game per year from 2007 until 2011.
It’s crucial that the Cowboys will join the International Series as a visiting team, as team owner/general manager Jerry Jones has stated in the past he wouldn’t be willing to surrender a home game at AT&T Stadium.
Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, who also owns London-based soccer club Fulham F.C., has committed to have Jacksonville host a game in London every season through 2016.
Since its inception, the International Series has increased NFL fan interest in the UK, which has a current NFL fan base of more than 12 million, including 2.5 million avid fans – a 30 percent increase in avid fans in the past two years.
NFL television ratings have substantially grown in the UK since 2006. Sunday viewership of NFL games has almost doubled and the Super Bowl audience has increased 75 percent. The NFL also has developed new and stronger business partnerships.
Participation in amateur football in the UK has risen since the start of the International Series, growing by approximately 15 percent per year since 2007.