Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks look for Wembley reprieve after tough start to NFL season

Malik Ouzia

The NFL rolls into London this weekend with the first of three games to be held at Wembley Stadium as part of the league's International Series.

First up, the Oakland Raiders return to London for the first time since a 2014 defeat against the Miami Dolphins, to take on a Seattle Seahawks outfit that will be playing a regular season game outside of North America for the very first time.

First, a disclaimer. These are, sadly, not the two finest teams in the NFL at the moment. Following week five, the Seahawks are ranked 19th and the Raiders 30th of the leagues 32 franchises - the American football equivalents of Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers, at the time of writing.

But the Seahawks are most definitely on the up. After a dodgy pair of defeats, wins over the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals have steadied the ship, and they took the LA Rams, the Super Bowl favourites, right to the wire.

The big difference has been a notable improvement on their run game – essentially they’ve started using it. We won’t get too heavy on the numbers, but in weeks one and two their rush leaders ran for 51 and 31 yards. In each of the three games since, someone has run for 100+.

That should help to ease the burden on quarterback Russell Wilson, up there with the likes of Aaron Rodgers in terms of value to his team. With his backs picking up yardage, he can get on with the business of chucking the ball about, as he did for three TDs on Sunday.

The Raiders, meanwhile, gave a huge $100million ten-year contract to tempt former head coach Jon Gruden, once the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl, back into the game this summer after a decade away, mainly working as a TV pundit.

However, they also lost perhaps the best defensive player in the NFL, Khalil Mack, to the Chicago Bears, and my word have they missed him so far.

They've lost four of their first five games, with only an overtime victory over the Cleveland Browns in the win column, and have statistically the third worst defense in the entire league. As a team, they’ve sacked the opposing quarterback just six times. Mack has five sacks on his own for the Bears.

On offense, all eyes will be on Marshawn Lynch, the running back who became a star during his time at the Seahawks, and faces his former side for the very first time.

Lynch was a Pro-Bowler in four straight seasons in Seattle, and won the Super Bowl with them in 2014. He quit the game when he left the Seahawks in 2015, but came out of retirement in 2017 to play for his hometown Oakland Raiders, when he heard that the franchise would be moving to Las Vegas (which they will, as soon as a new stadium is ready).