NFC South: travel miles

Each preseason, the NFL puts out a list of how many miles each team will travel for road games during the regular season.

This year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the easy winners in the NFC South. They’re scheduled to fly 22,974 miles. That’s sixth overall in the league and they trail only the West Coast teams (49ers, Seahawks, Chargers, Raiders and Cardinals), who almost always lead the league in travel. Tampa Bay’s got one long trip that pads their total a bit. That’s the October “home’’ game against Chicago in London.

The rest of the NFC South ranks near the bottom of the league in travel miles this season. Carolina (11,246) is No. 25. Atlanta (11,118) is No. 26 and the real total for the Falcons might even be a little less. The distance for all of Atlanta’s trips is calculated from Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. But coach Mike Smith has decided to take buses to Charlotte in recent years. If the Falcons do it again, you can knock about 45 miles off their total because they’ll be leaving from their Flowery Branch facility.

The New Orleans Saints are No. 28 and have to travel 10,380 miles.
Here’s a statistic that I can guarantee the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will lead the NFC South in: Travel miles.

According to the NFL office, the Buccaneers will travel 17,083 miles this preseason and regular season. That’s 11th in the NFL (San Francisco is scheduled to travel a league-high 35,219 miles), but tops in the NFC South. The New Orleans Saints are next (14th in the league) with 15,754 miles.

Carolina is No. 21 with 11,858 miles and Atlanta No. 22 at 11,761 miles. The NFC South will have a combined mileage total of 56,456, which is the second-lowest division total behind the NFC North (48,019).

The Cincinnati Bengals will travel the least (6,688 miles) of all NFL teams.

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to win the NFC South when it comes to travel this season.

According to numbers from the NFL on preseason and regular-season travel, the Bucs will travel 23,018 miles this season. That ranks them sixth in the NFL and well ahead of the rest of the NFC South. The Bucs' schedule is padded a bit by a midseason trip to London to play the Patriots.

New Orleans ranks second in the division, but 20th in the league with the team scheduled to travel 16,392 miles. The Falcons are scheduled to travel 14,944, ranking them No. 23 in the league. Carolina is one spot behind with 14,196 miles.

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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