Seahawks get West Coast advantage, Saints up past their bedtime

Dec 2, 2013, 5:24 AM | Updated: 8:08 am
Coach Pete Carroll was concerned enough about those early starts that he switched up practice times during fall camp to help adjust his players' body clock. (AP Photo/File)
(AP Photo/File)

Though it hasn’t been the case this season, the Seahawks traditionally have had trouble with East Coast games that start at 1 p.m., their body clocks never seem to get ready for those early starts.

But the same effect works for East Coast teams playing late games, so New Orleans will be yawning come game time Monday night. Advantage: Seahawks.

Coach Pete Carroll was concerned enough about those early starts that he switched up practice times during fall camp to help adjust his players’ body clock.

“We just wanted to make sure that we demonstrated that it was no big deal to get up and go play,” Coach Carroll said before the first game of the season, which was a 1 p.m. start at Carolina. “It’s not to be an issue for us in any way.”

Carroll’s move has paid off. The Hawks have won three of the four early East Coast starts this year.

But have the Saints prepped their body clocks to handle the late start Monday?

Dr. Roger Smith has studied 40 years of NFL games to check out the late night effect of East Coast teams playing games that started after 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

The sleep specialist found that in the 106 games over the last four decades when a West Coast team played an East Coast team after 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, the West Coast team had an edge. “That’s when the West Coast teams seem to have a significant advantage,” he said.

Smith said those West Coast teams beat the spread 66 percent of the time, and when they did, they beat the spread by more than five points.

He said it’s all about how the body is designed to work.

“Many processes in the body follow a Circadian or daily pattern, and some fluctuate from high to low,” he said.

Our bodies are hardwired to perform at their best in the afternoon. They take a little while to get warmed up, as we’ve seen with those previous early East Coast game struggles for the Hawks.

And Monday, those keen functions will drop off for the Saints the later it gets.

“Many of these things peak in the late afternoon and then have their low in the very early morning hours,” says Smith.

The Hawks are a 4 1/2-point favorite Monday night, so according to Smith’s body clock analysis, the Hawks should win by 10.

But is the doctor betting?

“I’m not taking sides on this one,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to watching two amazingly good teams.”

For the Seahawks, let’s hope the Saints are sleepy in the second half.

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Seahawks get West Coast advantage, Saints up past their bedtime