The Seattle Seahawks traveled to New York in week four only to take home to Washington a 44-6 beating.
It was the Hawks’ second visit to the east coast in 2008 and the second time they went home licking their wounds.
The same day the Seahawks suffered their beating, San Diego traveled to Miami and lost an early game. While the Dolphins are improving under Tony Sparano and Bill Parcells few would argue that the Dolphins are currently a better team than the Chargers.
KFAN-AM Radio Monday in Minnesota Monday indicated that the NFL might be considering the idea of requiring late start times – 4 p.m. on the east, 1 p.m. on the west – for games played by west coast teams that travel across the country to play.
I’m not sure if that is true or not but Pat Kirwan, NFL.com senior analyst, indicates that since 2003 when the Arizona Cardinals, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks travel to the eastern time zone for an early game they are 19-59, winning at a 24.3 percent clip.
When they play late games or at night they are 3-5, for a 37.5 percent winning percentage.
He addresses the fact that for the most part those teams have struggled in recent years. But Seattle is 6-12 traveling from west to east since 2003 and they’ve made the playoffs each year, he adds.
Now, jet lag doesn’t explain away a 44-6 loss. The Seahawks could have stayed in New York for the entire length of their bye week and the week heading up to the game and not made up that 38 point difference.
And the Giants are a good team. It’s not surprising they won the game – only by how much.
Still, this could be a big issue for his team. The Hawks generally log close to if not the most air miles in any given season and they still play at Tampa Bay and at Miami to accompany their inner-division travels this year. Off to a 1-3 start, the Hawks are going to have a hard time making a playoff run if they keep getting crushed on the east coast.
Coach Mike Holmgren won’t hear any of the jet lag-related excuses. But the numbers are dramatic enough where they are at least worthy of a glance by the league. Maybe it turns out that the east coast teams of the last five or six years are just that much better than those who call the west coast home.
Nonetheless, the overall numbers since 2003 indicate that this could be a competitive balance issue. And it’s an issue with a simple solution. Requiring a 4 p.m. start time for games involving west coast teams visiting the east coast allows those visiting organizations to feel as though they are on a more normal schedule.
They still suffer the effects of their long flight. The home team still has their home-fan advantage. In the end, if the numbers continue to hold up over time, it’ll make those wins even more legitimate.
And what is there to lose? A meager three hours.