On Saturday, we mentioned that the San Francisco 49ers might have a “circadian advantage” by playing against the Green Bay Packers in a night game that started at 5 p.m. for one team and 7 p.m. for another.
We know how that turned out. (For the Green Bay defense, at least.)
Today, let’s talk a little about the opposite: West Coast teams traveling east for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff.
It’s been a long-held gambling theory to fade West Coast teams in 1 p.m. games because their body clocks are telling them that it’s only 10 a.m., which means they’re starting their gameday routine much earlier than they’re accustomed to. We don’t even know how to go about looking up the all-time stats for something like that, but let’s just assume the sharp NFL bettors know what they’re talking about when saying it’s a valid theory.
Now, let’s examine the Seahawks’ 2012 season. As we know by now, the Seahawks are a much better home team than road team. They went 8-0 at home this season and only 3-5 on the road, and they historically have the best home-field advantage in the league.
But when diving even further into the numbers, some things start to jump out.
First off, the Seahawks have made five road trips to the Eastern time zone this season.
Week 5 (+1 at Carolina): Seahawks 16, Panthers 12 (4:05 p.m. ET)
Week 8 (+2.5 at Detroit): Lions 28, Seahawks 24 (1 p.m. ET)
Week 12 (-3 at Miami): Dolphins 24, Seahawks 21 (1 p.m. ET)
Week 15 (-4.5 at Buffalo): Seahawks 50, Bills 17 (4:05 p.m. ET)
Wild Card (-3 at Washington): Seahawks 24, Redskins 14 (4:30 p.m. ET)
See the difference there?
The Dolphins and Lions losses just happen to be the only blemishes on Seattle’s schedule since mid-October, and both just happened to have 1 p.m. ET kickoffs. While this is a ridiculously small sample size to make any drastic conclusions, it’s more than notable that the Seahawks had far more success when playing in the later game (4:05 p.m.) than at the earlier time.
Can they break the trend? Of course. They’re more well-rounded than Atlanta and are entering this matchup as hot as any other NFL team. But we certainly won’t be betting on them.
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BONUS: From a recent ESPN article…
According to STATS LLC, the 1989 Los Angeles Rams are the only West Coast team to win back-to-back postseason games on the East Coast — at Philadelphia and the New York Giants. STATS’ research included teams from Seattle, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Arizona.
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UPDATE: A reader emailed to tell us that the Seahawks also lost 19-13 in a 1 p.m. ET kickoff at St. Louis in Week 4, even though that’s in the central time zone. A good point. (But we also found that the only exception to this all season was Seattle’s 23-17 overtime victory at Chicago in Week 13, another 1 p.m. ET kickoff in the central time zone.)