- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Detroit is headed to London and really, this always seemed like it would make sense. As the league tries to build its presence overseas -- including three games next season -- why wouldn’t the NFL try to put a team with a bunch of marketable players in one of those games.
Detroit has the best receiver in the game, Calvin Johnson. It has a former No. 1 overall draft pick at quarterback in Matthew Stafford, and one of the game's most polarizing players in defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Plus, when Detroit’s offense is playing well, it is one of the more exciting to watch in the league. Also consider the opponent, Atlanta. While the Falcons are struggling this season, they have been a playoff team the past few years. So the NFL is putting a matchup between two explosive offenses in England at a date and time to be determined.
Perhaps the most important thing for Detroit is it doesn’t lose a home game in this deal, either. Atlanta is the home team, so the Lions now have a 2014 schedule with eight home games, seven road games and a trip overseas. That isn’t a bad deal at all.
"We are excited for the opportunity to play on an international stage against a quality NFC opponent," Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand said in a statement. "It will be a different challenge for our football team; one that we fully embrace.
"The global platform also presents a unique and special opportunity for our fans and business partners to join us in sharing the many positive stories about the city of Detroit, the state of Michigan and the Lions."
While I’m not too sure about all of that, there should be an excitement there. This is a chance for a lot of players to briefly see a different part of the world. Some of them have never been to London, or to Europe.
Last month, I asked a couple of Lions players whether they would play for a London-based franchise. While that didn’t really get them excited, the prospect of playing one game over there was intriguing.
"I’ve never been to London," receiver Ryan Broyles said. "It would probably be kind of cool, I wouldn’t mind playing over there for a weekend."
Now he could get a chance and earn a paycheck doing it.
27mDana Wakiji / Special to ESPN.com