NFL Nation: schedule 10
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.
Games against the Saints (Week 2), Eagles (Week 5), Cardinals (Week 12) and Chargers (Week 15) give 49ers fans -- and the nation -- a steady diet of San Francisco games this season. It's up to the 49ers to hold up their end. The 49ers play five of six games on the road beginning Nov. 29. This schedule should test them.
The season builds toward a Week 17 home game against the Cardinals, a game that could determine which team emerges with the NFC West title.
Complaint department: The 49ers open with three of their first four games on the road, and their only home game during that stretch comes against the Super Bowl champion Saints. Expectations will be huge for this team, but it's possible San Francisco could struggle some early. The 49ers couldn't win at Seattle last season when the Seahawks were horrible and San Francisco absolutely needed to win. The 49ers cannot assume they'll win the opener at Seattle this season.
Top of the morning to ya: The 49ers drew five games with 10 a.m. PT kickoffs. That's a typical number for them. Team president Jed York has complained about all the early games, but the league has shown no sympathy.
49ers Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 12, at Seattle, 4:15 PM
Week 2: Monday, Sep. 20, New Orleans, 8:30 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 26, at Kansas City, 1:00 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3, at Atlanta, 1:00 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10, Philadelphia, 8:20 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 17, Oakland, 4:05 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 24, at Carolina, 1:00 PM
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 31, Denver, 1:00 PM
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 14, St. Louis, 4:15 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21, Tampa Bay, 4:05 PM
Week 12: Monday, Nov. 29, at Arizona, 8:30 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5, at Green Bay, 1:00 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12, Seattle, 4:05 PM
Week 15: Thursday, Dec. 16, at San Diego, 8:20 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 26, at St. Louis, 1:00 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2, Arizona, 4:15 PM
Opening at St. Louis gives Matt Leinart a chance to start against a weaker opponent. That was certainly better than opening against the Saints or on the road against the Vikings. The pressure will be on Leinart not to lose against a bad team, but opening the season against a weak opponent can also give him a chance to win early.
The Cardinals close the season with three games against NFC teams, with two on the road. Those games could be critical as teams fight for playoff positioning. Games against the Chiefs, Rams, Broncos, Panthers and 49ers are subject to flex scheduling.
Complaint department: The Cardinals open the season with three of their first four games on the road, including potentially tough matchups against the Falcons and Chargers. Life doesn't get much easier when Arizona returns home in Week 5. The Super Bowl champion Saints will be waiting. Arizona has proven to be a resilient team that responds well to challenges. The Cardinals might need to draw on some of that toughness.
Blackout watch: The Cardinals have worked hard to keep their sellout streak alive. The schedule sets up favorably to avoid blackouts early in the season. The home opener is against Oakland and the Raiders' fans tend to travel well. The Saints visit for the second home game. The third home game, albeit against Tampa Bay, falls in Week 8. A Christmas Day home game against Dallas should sell out well in advance.
Cardinals Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 12, at St. Louis, 4:15 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 19, at Atlanta, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 26, Oakland, 4:15 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3, at San Diego, 4:15 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10, New Orleans, 4:05 PM
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 24, at Seattle, 4:05 PM
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 31, Tampa Bay, 4:15 PM
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 7, at Minnesota, 1:00 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 14, Seattle, 4:15 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21, at Kansas City, 1:00 PM
Week 12: Monday, Nov. 29, San Francisco, 8:30 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5, St. Louis, 4:15 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12, Denver, 4:15 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19, at Carolina, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 25, Dallas, 7:30 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2, at San Francisco, 4:15 PM