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How do NFL teams fare on the road in different time zones?

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I've heard it mentioned many times how poorly East Coast teams play when on the West Coast and vice versa. I wanted to look at some numbers to see if this is a real phenomenon, or just a Phil Sims bloviation.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Here is the breakdown of NFL teams by time zone, but since this data is going to go back to the merger, note that some of these teams have moved time zones since 1966 and some didn't exist until relatively recently.

Eastern: FALCONS RAVENS BILLS PANTHERS BENGALS BROWNS LIONS COLTS JAGUARS DOLPHINS PATRIOTS GIANTS JETS EAGLES STEELERS BUCCANEERS OILERS/TITANS REDSKINS

Central: BEARS COWBOYS PACKERS CHIEFS VIKINGS SAINTS RAMS

Mountain: BRONCOS CARDINALS

Pacific: RAIDERS CHARGERS 49ERS SEAHAWKS

Before we get too deep into this, this needs to be stated: Only two franchises have a winning record on the road since the merger, Dallas (53.2%) and San Francisco (50.8%). The other 30 NFL franchises have a losing record on the road. Since the merger we have won 45.2% of our road games.

Franchise Records on the road in the Pacific Time Zone (1966-2015)

I'm including the teams from the Pacific time zone.

Rk Tm W L T W-L% ▾
1 CAR 10 6 0 63%
2 WAS 20 13 2 60%
3 BAL / IND 22 18 0 55%
4 OAK / RAI 45 39 1 54%
5 SFO 30 29 0 51%
6 DAL 19 19 0 50%
7 PHI 17 18 0 49%
8 DEN 63 72 0 47%
9 MIA 19 22 0 46%
10 HOU 5 6 0 46%
11 KAN 57 70 1 45%
12 BOS / NWE 15 19 1 44%
13 SDG 35 48 1 42%
14 RAM / STL 31 43 2 42%
15 CLE 18 27 0 40%
16 NOR 30 46 2 40%
17 GNB 15 23 0 40%
18 SEA 25 42 0 37%
19 PIT 16 27 0 37%
20 BAL 5 9 0 36%
21 NYG 14 27 0 34%
22 STL / PHO / ARI 20 39 0 34%
23 CIN 16 32 0 33%
24 NYJ 14 29 1 33%
25 ATL 26 56 2 32%
26 CHI 14 32 0 30%
27 MIN 12 29 1 30%
28 DET 12 34 0 26%
29 HOU / TEN 11 32 1 26%
30 BUF 10 31 0 24%
31 TAM 6 28 0 18%
32 JAX 2 10 0 17%

The five worst teams in terms of record on the road in the Pacific Time Zone are all from the Eastern time zone, but the three best are as well.

Franchise Records on the road in the Mountain Time Zone (1966-2015)

I'm including the teams from the Mountain Time Zone.

Rk Tm W L T W-L% ▾
1 DEN 3 1 0 75%
2 OAK / RAI 28 22 1 56%
3 MIN 7 6 0 54%
4 CHI 7 6 0 54%
5 NYG 12 11 0 52%
6 JAX 3 3 0 50%
7 CAR 4 4 0 50%
8 MIA 6 6 1 50%
9 NYJ 7 7 0 50%
10 SFO 10 11 0 48%
11 GNB 5 6 0 46%
12 DAL 11 14 0 44%
13 PHI 10 13 0 44%
14 RAM / STL 9 12 0 43%
15 TAM 4 6 0 40%
16 BUF 4 6 0 40%
17 WAS 9 14 0 39%
18 BAL 3 5 0 38%
19 NOR 5 9 0 36%
20 HOU / TEN 4 8 1 35%
21 BOS / NWE 8 16 0 33%
22 PIT 5 11 1 32%
23 KAN 17 36 0 32%
24 BAL / IND 4 9 0 31%
25 SDG 16 37 1 31%
26 SEA 11 29 0 28%
27 CLE 4 13 0 24%
28 ATL 3 10 0 23%
29 DET 3 11 0 21%
30 HOU 1 4 0 20%
31 CIN 2 14 0 13%
32 STL / PHO / ARI 0 5 0 0%

I don't know that we can learn much from this other than the fact that the Broncos are 3 and 1 on the road in the Mountain time zone (all against the Cardinals) and the Cardinals are 0 and 5 on the road against Denver.

Franchise Records on the road in the Central Time Zone (1966-2015)

I'm including the teams from the Central Time Zone.

Rk Tm W L T W-L% ▾
1 KAN 31 25 1 55%
2 DAL 45 38 1 54%
3 MIA 44 38 0 54%
4 GNB 74 70 2 51%
5 BAL / IND 41 40 1 51%
6 PIT 49 51 2 49%
7 HOU / TEN 37 39 0 49%
8 SFO 68 72 2 49%
9 RAM / STL 54 59 3 48%
10 CLE 45 50 1 47%
11 NYJ 35 39 0 47%
12 OAK / RAI 50 57 2 47%
13 BAL 13 16 0 45%
14 MIN 63 78 3 45%
15 WAS 58 72 0 45%
16 BOS / NWE 30 38 1 44%
17 CAR 25 33 0 43%
18 SDG 41 55 0 43%
19 HOU 10 14 0 42%
20 CIN 39 55 1 42%
21 PHI 56 81 1 41%
22 DEN 38 60 2 39%
23 JAX 22 35 0 39%
24 BUF 30 49 1 38%
25 NYG 48 79 1 38%
26 CHI 54 90 0 38%
27 SEA 32 55 0 37%
28 ATL 44 80 0 36%
29 NOR 30 60 1 34%
30 STL / PHO / ARI 34 69 1 33%
31 TAM 38 97 0 28%
32 DET 50 133 6 28%

The two teams with the worst record in the league in the Central Time Zone are from the the Eastern Time Zone. Three of the five best teams on the road in this time zone are from this time zone. I was surprised to see how well MIA has historically done in the Central Time Zone.

Franchise Records on the road in the Eastern Time Zone (1966-2015)

I'm including the teams from the Eastern Time Zone.

Rk Tm W L T W-L% ▾
1 DAL 124 105 0 54%
2 SFO 81 72 1 53%
3 PIT 109 105 0 51%
4 PHI 87 86 6 50%
5 NYG 88 93 2 49%
6 BOS / NWE 119 128 0 48%
7 MIN 85 92 0 48%
8 DEN 65 71 0 48%
9 BAL / IND 115 126 0 48%
10 RAM / STL 77 86 0 47%
11 MIA 114 128 0 47%
12 SEA 52 60 0 46%
13 CHI 76 93 0 45%
14 SDG 62 77 2 45%
15 WAS 83 103 1 45%
16 RAI / OAK 58 72 1 45%
17 NOR 83 103 1 45%
18 NYJ 102 141 2 42%
19 HOU / TEN 102 142 1 42%
20 GNB 71 107 2 40%
21 BAL 41 62 0 40%
22 KAN 54 83 2 40%
23 CAR 30 47 1 39%
24 BUF 94 149 1 39%
25 ATL 58 94 2 38%
26 JAX 32 53 0 38%
27 CLE 71 125 0 36%
28 TAM 46 82 0 36%
29 DET 45 81 1 36%
30 STL / PHO / ARI 73 133 3 36%
31 CIN 71 133 0 35%
32 HOU 21 44 0 32%

While the worst team in the league on the road in the Eastern Time Zone is from the Central Time Zone, Houston, the second worst team since the merger is this time zone is from this time zone, Cincy. The two best teams in the league since the merger on the road in this time zone are from another time zone, DAL and SF. Our 48% winning % in the Eastern Time Zone is pretty comparable to our 47% winning in the Pacific Time Zone.

Conclusion

This myth appears to be fairly invalid that teams play poorly out of their time zone. Since the merger the overall road winning percentage is 42.4%.

Road Team Winning %
Pacific 40.1%
Mountain 38.1%
Central 42.1%
Eastern 43.7%
Overall 42.4%

So statistically teams actually fare better in the Eastern Time Zone on the road than they do in the other three time zones. The toughest time zone to play in is the Mountain Time Zone where road teams only win 38.1% of the time. That being said, for a long time the only team in the Mountain Time Zone was the Broncos.