Examining The NFL's Time Bandits
Periodically you will hear football commentators talk about a team on the East Coast taking a road trip to the West Coast to play a foe and how the travel may affect their performance (or vice versa).
To see if there is any significant difference between teams playing in their own time zone versus traveling to other time zones to play, I looked at the last five seasons in the NFL and tracked how well teams played within their own time zone and how well they played outside their time zone.
The findings? There is a difference. Case in point: Look below at the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers, who play in an eastern time zone city, were 49-17 (a .742 winning percentage) in games they played in the eastern time zone. But when the Steelers had to travel out of their time zone, they were only 4-10 in those five years, a .286 winning percentage. That’s a difference of .456 percentage points. That difference was the largest of any team in this five-year analysis.
All total, of the 32 NFL teams, 26 played better in their own time zones versus playing outside their time zone. To quantify it, NFL teams in the last five season were 951-832-3 (.533 winning percentage) when they played in their own time zone and 327-446-1 (.423 winning percentage) when they played outside their time zone, a difference of .110 percentage points.
Following is a look at each NFL team and their win-loss record when they played games in their own time zone and their record outside their time zone in the last five seasons (2008-12).
|EASTERN TIME ZONE||In time zone||Outside time zone||Difference|
|New England||50-15||10-5||+ .102|
|New York Giants||37-24||11-8||+ .028|
|New York Jets||38-27||5-10||+ .252|
|Tampa Bay||23-36||10-11||+ .086|
|CENTRAL TIME ZONE||In time zone||Outside time zone||Difference|
|Green Bay||40-16||13-11||+ .172|
|Kansas City||16-28||9-27||+ .114|
|New Orleans||34-15||18-13||+ .113|
|St. Louis||11-35||8-25-1||- .011|
|MOUNTAIN TIME ZONE||In time zone||Outside time zone||Difference|
|PACIFIC TIME ZONE||In time zone||Outside time zone||Difference|
|San Diego||29-17||16-18||+ .159|
|San Francisco||29-15-1||16-19||+ .199|