Friday, April 20, 2012
Evidence piling up against early kickoffs
By Mike Sando
Bravo to Jim Harbaugh and the 2011 San Francisco 49ers for proving West Coast teams could flourish against a schedule packed with dreaded 10 a.m. PT kickoffs.
The 49ers went 5-0 in those games, including 4-0 when those games were in the Eastern time zone. That was a monumental achievement, but also an aberration for all but the very best Western teams, notably the great 49ers teams of decades past.
After hammering on this issue for years out of a sense of Western duty, it's great to know backup has arrived. Scott Kacsmar's piece for Cold, Hard Football Facts takes the research to another level, demonstrating more convincingly the disadvantage Western teams face heading East.
Game results from 2007 show teams from each time zone posting very similar home winning percentages. The road winning percentages are far worse for Western teams, and dramatically so for those dreaded early kickoffs -- especially when adjusting to exclude divisional road games against Central time opponents St. Louis and Kansas City.
"Games between teams from the same time zone saw the home team’s record hover around the NFL’s normal home-field advantage," Kacsmar writes. "The big news is the Eastern teams dominating the six Western teams, going 44-15 (.746) against Pacific, and 24-11 (.686) against the Mountain. Combined, that is a staggering 68-26 (.723) record against Western teams. ...
"If home-field advantage is only supposed to be around 57 percent (and Eastern teams are just .536 against Central teams), then this increase of over 15 percentage points for East vs. Western is clearly a significant advantage."
Hey, even the NFC West blog runs on Eastern time, as the time associated with this item declares. There's no question those 10 a.m. blog entries are weaker than their later counterparts.