Mad Chemist: East, west, home’s best

By
Updated: December 14, 2013

Do West Coast teams face a disadvantage when playing on the East Coast — or have they simply not been good until lately?

Much ado has been made about the plight of West Coast teams forced to travel out east for early games. Teams from the left coast have a miserable 51-101 record playing in Eastern Time Zone venues since the beginning of 2004 season.

The prevailing thought is that jet lag is to blame for these teams’ cross-country struggles. Coaches and players are forced to put themselves at 8 or 9 p.m. by their body clocks and then wake up at 6 a.m. for games starting at 10 a.m.

Or so the story goes. Can it be backed up by the numbers?

Records on the road

Overall record
last 10 years
Record in
Eastern Time Zone
Total Away Record
Arizona Cardinals 69-88
(43.9%)
8-22
(26.66%)
22-56
(28%)
Oakland Raiders 49-108
(31.2%)
6-27
(18.9%)
22-57
(27.8%)
San Diego Chargers 97-60
(61.78%)
17-17
(50%)
44-36
(55%)
San Francisco 49ers 72-84-1
(46.2%)
9-18
(33.3%)
28-50
(35.9%)
Seattle Seahawks 86-71
(54.8%)
11-17
(39.3%)
35-44
(44.3%)
Total 373-411-1
(47.6%)
51-101
(33.6%)
151-243
(38.3%)

Every West Coast team does have a worse record in East Coast games, although we would be remiss if we did not also note that only 18 of these 50 collective campaigns have been winning seasons.

Stated another way, the western divisions have not fielded very many good teams over the last decade. And, as another common assumption holds, teams are going to win less often in away games.

Yet it still seems that there is some merit to these claims.

Balancing the scale

So let us instead turn to the Vegas Line in these games. This is a column based on and discussing wagering on football but more importantly this will give us the best look at how these teams have fared on the East Coast if we make it closer to a 50/50 proposition for them to win.

Overall
record
Record
ATS
Record
when favored
Covered
when favored
Arizona Cardinals 8-22
(26.66%)
17-12-1
(58.33)
1-0
(100%)
1-0
(100%)
Oakland Raiders 6-27
(18.9%)
14-19
(42.4%)
1-2
(33.3%)
1-2
(33.3%)
San Diego Chargers 17-17
(50%)
17-16-1
(51.5%)
10-6
(62.5%)
7-9
(43.8%)
San Francisco 49ers 9-18
(33.3%)
12-15
(44.4%)
6-1
(85.7%)
5-2
(71.4%)
Seattle Seahawks 11-17
(39.3%)
13-14-1
(48.2%)
7-4
(63.6%)
6-5
(54.5%)
TOTAL 51-101
(33.6%)
73-76-3
(49%)
25-13
(65.8%)
20-18
(52.6%)

Things suddenly look murkier.

It could be that Vegas is not only highly adept at weighing each team in quality but also factoring in the three-time-zone shift. Or it could be that effects of the time shift are exaggerated by fans and the media. Favored West Coast teams playing in the Eastern Time Zone have performed better than all NFL favorites combined since 2004, going 428-399-24 (51.7 percent) against the spread (ATS).

Whatever the cause, factoring in the “10 a.m. start time” to bet against West Coast teams is not wise.

Surprising result

In researching this I was caught off guard by another statistic: Between 1970 and 2011, West Coast teams went an astonishing 70-36 ATS in games kicking off after 8 p.m. ET. That is an incredible 66-percent win rate!

Circadian cycles — the natural body rhythms of all animals – could explain this wide gap. In humans they are largely dictated by the sun or light and dark periods. That is the reason people may feel less active or aware on overcast days: light cues are playing tricks with their minds.

Although each person varies a bit, here are the general truisms of our circadian rhythm:

What makes you tick?

What makes you tick?

  • 9 a.m. to noon: Best time for analytical activity but worst for physical activity. At these times we have the lowest levels of blood flow.
  • Noon to 2 p.m.: Verbal and mental alertness peaks.
  • 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Best time for physical activity. Reaction time, muscle strength, and cardiovascular efficiency peak. On the downside this is when the mind is the most muddled and prone to mental lapses.
  • 9 p.m.: Melatonin secretion begins, chemically beginning sleep-wake cycle, causing drowsiness and lowering body temperature.

Whether at home or away, a West Coast team is enjoying the advantage of kicking off around 5:30 p.m. their time, while the East Coast squad is experiencing what feels like 8 p.m.

You can see how the Left Coast folks might have a significant natural advantage, since they are playing all night games during their physical peak hours. Their opponents from the East are wearing down just as the game is heating up.

Just this year we have seen a number of late games where teams have faced another from two or three time zones west of them. Check out these results:

  1. Denver Broncos beat Baltimore Ravens 49-27
  2. Dallas Cowboys beat New York Giants 36-31
  3. Houston Texans over San Diego Chargers 31-28
  4. San Francisco 49ers over St. Louis Rams 35-11
  5. Dallas beats Washington Redskins 31-16
  6. San Diego beats Indianapolis Colts 19-9
  7. Indianapolis over Denver 39-33
  8. Seattle Seahawks beat St. Louis 14-9
  9. New England Patriots over Denver 34-31 (OT)
  10. San Francisco beat Washington 27-6
  11. Seattle beat New Orleans Saints 34-7

The western team was victorious in eight of the 11 games — and seven of those wins were by double digits! In the other three games, the margin of loss was three, three, and six points.

The West Coast teams also covered the spread in eight of these games.

Your only chance to cash in this year will be next week when Atlanta visits San Francisco. One has to think the 49ers should buck the trend of double-digit favorites failing to cover.

Lagging behind

I continue to trail by two games with little time left: 22-30-1 to their 24-28-1.

Pick Line Opponent
Deep Cool Agrees
Jacksonville Jaguars +2 vs. Buffalo Bills
New York Jets +11 @Carolina Panthers
Deep Cool Disagrees
Robert's Pick Line Deep Cool's Pick
San Francisco 49ers -5 @Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kansas City Chiefs -4.5 @Oakland Raiders
New Orleans Saints -6 @St. Louis
Green Bay Packers +7 @ Dallas Cowboys

The best of the rest:

  • Miami Dolphins +2.5 vs. New England Patriots
  • Philadelphia Eagles -4.5 @ Minnesota Vikings
  • Seattle Seahawks -7 @ New York Giants
  • Cincinnati Bengals -3 @ Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Arizona Cardinals -3 @ Tennessee Titans
  • Atlanta Falcons -6 vs. Washington Redskins
  • Indianapolis Colts -6 vs. Houston Texans

About the author(s)

A self-described NFL addict and "stats geek," Robert J. Russ loves to demolish conventional wisdom with cold, hard numbers. When reputation doesn't jive with reality, he plows tirelessly through play-by-play charts and statistical tables to separate fact from fiction. A military brat who was born in California, raised in North Carolina, and bounced between the two states through college, Russ has lived in Coastal Carolina since 1990. He owns a small pest-control business and a free fantasy football and NFL betting line website. Feel free to contact him at with questions, comments, or ideas for future articles.

207 comments
Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

Good night everyone. Talk to you in the morning. 

_GabeN_
_GabeN_

you guys might like r/trees


its not about trees

FalconsFan0125
FalconsFan0125 moderator

Best part about NOLA, you can walk around outside with a drink! Got drunk as hell midday while walking around Canal and Bourbon street. 

Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

Kind of busy in here for this time of night. What gives?


Doctor ϟ Professor ☧
Doctor ϟ Professor ☧ moderator

Alright you bags of asses, I'm going to sleep.


See ya'll in a plethora of hours!

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

 

I REFUSE TO FORM AN OPINION OVER THIS

robertj72
robertj72

If you are in NOLA drunk is the only way to do it.

FalconsFan0125
FalconsFan0125 moderator

They also have Casinos! Atl needs those...

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

 

I bought a daquiri from a drive through when I was 19 in NOLA. Place is great!

FalconsFan0125
FalconsFan0125 moderator

 You must be too rich to form opinions. 

FalconsFan0125
FalconsFan0125 moderator

 I had fun. I was wearing my Falcons gear all day and only got one animosity filled comment. 

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

 

Hey man, both ends of the Mississippi River contain great drunken societies.

_GabeN_
_GabeN_

  everybody has weed

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

 

From my experience, people in NO are cool as shit.

Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

 Sounds great. I'm gonna hit the sack now. Talk to you soon.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

 

We've been thinking about it for awhile and finally, tonight, came upon the idea of how much that trip and that station mean to us. I'll email you with further info.

Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

 I am stoked. I can tell you guys are excited. This will be good. You are very welcome.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

 

Fuckin A. OK, We will get together some photos with different angles as well as some dimensions and send them.

Thanks man!

Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

 I'd love to.  Just send me some jpegs of the angles you guys are thinking of.  I will give you input. I am sure we can find something that will make the both of you very happy. I love doing buildings so this will be a lot of fun.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

 

Yes, definitely. Aside from being a great reminder of our time in San Diego, it was also the point from which we embarked on our third wedding anniversary train ride. We rode up to SLO, stayed in the central coast for three days (gorgeous), and then continued by train up to SF to meet my family and hung out there for another 4 days. Really holds a lto of meaning for us, so that would be really cool if you'd paint that for us.

robertj72
robertj72

This is the most unerotic menage a trois ever

Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

 I think there are plenty of nice angles.

Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

 Absolutely. It is a nice architectural piece. Spanish Colonial Revival I believe.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

 

Kick ass. The station has multiple meaning s for us. Not sure exactly what angle, although I thin we want the dome to be involved. Can we send back and forth some images and angles and such and hash out a general idea? I want your input on what you think would look best. 

Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

Yes. I have been there a couple times


Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

 

Do you know of the Santa fe Depot in San Diego?

Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

 I found it to be..how shall I say it?Lacking in details.

Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

 I read the communication you sent to me.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

 

In fact I spoke with her and we mutually seek your services.

Kuato Face
Kuato Face moderator

 Yes. You need my services. I am available to you and your wife.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

I mean, to some extent yes. But the sun's rising relative to other areas of the world is factually variable.

Preparation_A
Preparation_A moderator

 

Birth certificates are an Illuminati lie.