NFL roster cuts: AFC | NFC

Deck stacked against West in early starts?

September, 24, 2010
9/24/10
12:38
PM ET
The San Francisco 49ers play the first of five games with early kickoffs when they visit Kansas City in Week 3.

No team in the Pacific time zone plays as many games with 10 a.m. PT kickoffs. The 49ers also have a Week 8 game in London (8 p.m. ET kickoff).

Since 2005, the 49ers have a 6-22 record in 10 a.m. PT kickoffs. That record is 2-21 against teams other than the St. Louis Rams.

"We're playing at 10 in the game and that’s what I tell the guys -- we’re playing at 10 a.m. our time, so get ready, you know?" 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky told reporters Thursday. "We have to get ready as soon as we get on that bus, ready to get over there, whatever time it is."

West Coast teams have complained about early kickoffs. The league has said there isn't evidence the early starts play a role in poor performance for teams in the West.

The chart shows road records for Western teams, with early kickoffs broken out separately. I've also singled out early games against the Rams because St. Louis has proven consistently beatable at any time or place. Arizona is on Mountain time, but its clocks line up with Pacific time part of the year because Arizona does not observe daylight savings. I've included the Cardinals in the chart even though some of their 10 a.m. PT kickoffs began when it was 11 a.m. in Arizona.


A quick look at early kickoffs for Western teams this season:

  • San Francisco (5): Games against Kansas City (Week 3), Atlanta (Week 4), Carolina (Week 7), Green Bay (Week 13) and St. Louis (Week 16) begin at 10 a.m. PT. The 49ers also have a Week 8 game at London. That one kicks off at 5 p.m. PT.
  • Arizona (4): Games against Atlanta (Week 2), Minnesota (Week 9), Kansas City (Week 11) and Carolina (Week 15) were scheduled for early kickoffs.
  • Oakland (4): Games against Tennessee (Week 1), Pittsburgh (Week 11), Jacksonville (Week 14) and Kansas City (17) begin at 10 a.m. PT.
  • Seattle (3): Games against St. Louis (Week 4), Chicago (Week 6) and Tampa Bay (Week 16) begin at 10 a.m. PT.
  • San Diego (2): Games against St. Louis (Week 6) and Houston (Week 9) feature early kickoffs.

The Chargers have had a good team over the years. That's why they've fared better in early games and all road games. I do think the early kickoffs present special challenges for West Coast teams, however. Teams generally arrive for games one or two days early. An early kickoff can mean 5 a.m. PT wake up calls on game days.

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