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LAS VEGAS — Prepare yourself to hear São Paulo in a Philadelphia accent, because the Eagles will open the 2024 season in Brazil.
The NFL announced Monday that the Eagles will host the league’s first game in South America. The game will be played Friday, Sept. 6 in São Paulo at the Corinthians Arena. The opponent will be announced at a later date. The Eagles are giving up a home game, although they were scheduled to have nine home games next season.
So what does this mean for the Eagles? Let’s break it down:
1. It was expected that the Eagles would be a top contender for an international game considering they haven’t played abroad since 2018 and they haven’t yet given up a home game. When they weren’t announced as a host for one of the four games in Europe (and didn’t play any of the host teams on the road), that left Brazil as the only option. The fact that the Eagles were chosen as one of the two teams for the first game in Brazil is presumably welcomed by owner Jeffrey Lurie, whose franchise is in the spotlight (in a solo window, opening-weekend game) with a brand that can expand in a growing market for football.
“The Eagles organization is honored to have been selected to play in the first-ever National Football League game in South America,” Lurie said in a statement. “With the global growth of our sport being a top priority to our league, we embrace the opportunity to grow our fanbase around the world and bring Eagles football to the 38 million sports fans in Brazil. As one of the world’s most culturally diverse nations, Brazil is an international melting pot, and we look forward to experiencing its warm, vibrant and welcoming environment later this year.”
2. The opening weekend element of the game — on a Friday night, to boot — is a favorable date for an international matchup. The Eagles will have just more than two weeks after the preseason finale before the game and can schedule their practices and travel accordingly. They will return to Philadelphia on Saturday and have a full week before their Week 2 game. This could be more advantageous than squeezing an international trip into the middle of the season, especially because they can prepare on the front end.
There’s no precedent for how a team will schedule the leadup for a Brazil game. The Eagles don’t need to deal with major jet lag that sets in from the time difference in Europe — it’s only two hours earlier in São Paulo, although the 9-to-10-hour flight can be taxing on the body. When the Eagles played in London in 2018, they departed on Thursday, practiced abroad on Friday, and played on Sunday. They then had a bye week following the game. There presumably won’t be a bye following a Week 2 game, nor is there one needed considering the Friday kickoff.
So I’m curious to see how Nick Sirianni approaches the scheduling — does he bring the team out at the beginning of the week or try to keep it as close to normal as possible? No one way works considering there hasn’t been a game there yet.
3. Who will the opponent be for the opener? Let’s play this out. Here are the Eagles’ nine home opponents: the Cowboys, Giants, Commanders, Browns, Falcons, Jaguars, Steelers, Packers, and Panthers.
You can likely scratch the Panthers and Jaguars off the list — both those teams were announced as hosts for international games, and it’s unlikely that the NFL would send them to abroad for a different game. The NFL usually doesn’t place intra-division games overseas — it hasn’t happened since Jaguars-Texans in 2019 — and the Eagles might want to protect home matchup against those NFC East foes. If that holds, it would leave Green Bay, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Atlanta as the possibilities. My guess is the Eagles would most like Green Bay and Pittsburgh as home games in Philadelphia considering the marketability of those franchises.
For what it’s worth, Atlanta is one of nine United States cities with nonstop flights to São Paulo.
4. Don’t lose sleep over the Eagles giving up a home game or act as if the league is putting the Eagles in a bad position. Since the NFL adopted a 17-game schedule in 2021, every team is required to play at least one scheduled home game in an international market every eight years. So this was going to happen at some point in the next five years, and it would only occur during a season when the Eagles were scheduled to have nine home games. They’ll play the same number of home games in 2024 as they played in 2023. This was simply their turn in the cycle.
Plus, the NFL will play eight games as part of the International Series beginning in 2025 — and that does not even include games that the Jaguars host in London. More teams will play overseas, and the Eagles will start making this more regular than the five years that have elapsed since their last game abroad.
5. So where will the Eagles play next? It’s a long time, as they won’t be required to give up a home game to play abroad until 2032, although they’ll presumably be a road team during this period. The NFL will keep expanding to different countries as part of the International Series, which makes it fun to speculate. (Let’s call it “informed speculation”…) I would watch out for Australia if and when a game is played there. The Eagles are one of two teams assigned to Australia for the NFL’s Global Markets Program (the Rams are the other). This is not always a telltale, considering the Dolphins are assigned to Brazil and are not hosting a game. But the Eagles are popular in Australia — especially with Jordan Mailata — and it’s a country in which the NFL has shown interest in expanding its footprint. Australia also has modern stadiums, having hosted the Olympics and World Cup. The time difference and flight duration are potential obstacles, but this would be a market I would watch for the Eagles.