NFC South: London

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Give New Orleans coach Sean Payton some credit for finally saying what he and most of the organization made obvious last week. The last place Payton and most people associated with the Saints wanted to be was London.

That was pretty obvious as the team took a bunker mentality through much of the week. The Saints stayed at what was essentially a castle an hour north of London, severely limited media access and just went about business. You can't question the result because the Saints got a win, although the fact the Chargers are flat-out bad played a big role.

In some ways, you have to wonder if the Saints made things more difficult than they needed to. They were grumpy all last week and, although they went through the motions they had to, they didn't exactly embrace a role as ambassadors of American football. That was a bit of a contradiction because Saints executive vice president Rita Benson LeBlanc, the daughter of owner Tom Benson, is on the league's international committee and she played an enthusiastic role in trying to expand the game's appeal.

That's something the NFL is gung-ho about and commissioner Roger Goodell said there's a possibility of two international games next season. There also has been talk about having each team play one international game a year at some point. That's probably going to happen because the game was an economic success.

But, before the league goes too far down the international road, it might want to listen seriously to Payton's gripes. He had some very valid points about the logistical difficulty of playing overseas and he's the guy who came home with a win.

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

WATFORD, England -- Just got a very interesting e-mail from Paul Carr, Jeremy Lundblad and Dennis Renno of ESPN's production research team. They did a great job compiling stats on how teams have fared when having to make major changes in time zones.

Three-hour time difference moving west to east in 2008
Week 1: SEA loses at BUF, 34-10
Week 3: OAK loses at BUF, 24-23
Week 3: ARI loses at WSH, 24-17
Week 4: ARI loses at NYJ, 56-35
Week 5: SD loses at MIA, 17-10
Week 5: SEA loses at NYG, 44-6
Week 7: SEA loses at TB, 20-10
Week 7: SF loses at NYG, 29-17
Week 7: SD loses at BUF, 23-14
Totals: 0-9, 15.8 PPG, 30.1 opp. PPG
Three-hour time difference moving east to west in 2008
Week 1: CAR wins at SD, 26-24
Week 2: MIA loses at ARI, 31-10
Week 3: DET loses at SF, 26-24
Week 3: NYJ loses at SD, 48-29
Week 5: BUF loses at ARI, 41-17
Week 5: NE wins at SF, 30-21
Week 6: PHI wins at SF, 40-26
Week 6: NE loses at SD, 30-10
Week 7: NYJ loses at OAK, 16-13 (OT)
Totals: 3-6, 20.9 PPG, 29.9 opp. PPG

Their research is based on three-hour differences in time zones. With the Saints and Chargers playing in London on Sunday and practicing here all week, this is very interesting. Obviously, the time difference is far greater for this game, but the three-hour distance is the only thing we've got that's close to a reasonable comparison.

For the record, London is five hours ahead of Eastern Time. That means the Saints are six hours ahead of New Orleans time and the Chargers are eight hours ahead of San Diego time. Also, there will be a switch in time in London (they're moving back an hour, just like "falling back'' in the U.S.).

Anyway, here's the stuff from the research guys:

It has been all the buzz this year to talk about the difficulty of traveling in the NFL and players falling out of their normal "time-body" routines.

Taking a look at the games, there is certainly an issue when teams have to make a 3-hour time difference road trip to play a game.

NOTES: For those of you who might track NFL totals, the average total points thus far in the 2008 NFL season is 44.6 PPG.  In games where East Coast teams travel to the West, those games are averaging 50.7 PPG, an increase of 13.7 percent from the league average. When you include all of the games that include a 3-hour time differential, the total is 48.1, an increase of 7.8 percent from the league average.

NFC South blog on the road to London

October, 19, 2008
10/19/08
7:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Saints are off to London and so is the NFC South blog.

The Saints are flying directly from Charlotte to London on Sunday evening. I'm connecting through Philadelphia and am scheduled to arrive a few hours after the Saints. If all goes according to schedule, I'll be attending a Saints press conference tomorrow afternoon and will give you some updates then.

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Just got done applying for a passport to go to London for the Oct. 26 game between the Saints and Chargers, which made me think about the logistical issues this game creates for the Saints.

Although the Saints are my pick to win the NFC South, they've got a particularly grueling stretch in the middle of their schedule, highlighted by the London trip. The Saints will go for almost six weeks without playing a game in the Superdome.

After an Oct. 12 home game with Oakland, the Saints go to Carolina, the London game, have their bye week and then play road games at Atlanta and Kansas City. Their next home game is Nov. 24 with Green Bay.

That's a long stretch and there's nothing the Saints can do about it, except try to make the most of it. The team is already planning a different approach to the London game than last year's participants -- the Giants and Dolphins, who tried to stay close to their regular schedule and went in only a few days early.

The Saints are going to spend the whole week in London. They're going to leave from Charlotte after their game with the Panthers and spend the week practicing in suburban London (the Chargers are taking a similar approach). That will allow players to get used to the time difference and the bye week on the back side of the trip will help avoid jet lag.

But packing up 53 players, a bunch of coaches and support staff for a week in a foreign country isn't easy. The London trip is a big part of the reason why the Saints will travel more miles than any NFC South team this season.

According to the NFL, the Saints will travel 23,956 miles for 11 games (two preseason games, eight regular-season road games and the London game, which is officially a home game).

That's nearly 7,000 miles more than Carolina, which will travel the second farthest of the division's teams with 17,310 miles. Atlanta will travel 16,330 miles and Tampa Bay 15,754 miles.

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