Game Times and Higher Winning Percentages of West Coast Teams of the National Football League Correspond With Reduced Prevalence of Regular Season Injury

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Brager, AJ and Mistovich, RJ. Game times and higher winning percentages of west coast teams of the National Football League correspond with reduced prevalence of regular season injury. J Strength Cond Res 31(2): 462–467, 2017—West coast teams of the National Football League are more statistically likely to win home night games against east coast opponents. The alignment of game times with daily rhythms of alertness is thought to contribute to this advantage. This study aims to determine whether rates of turnovers and injuries during the regular season, putative measures of mental and physical fatigue, impact winning percentages. Regular season schedules and rates of turnovers for each of the 32 teams were obtained from Pro-Football-Reference. We developed our own metric of injury risk for each position obtained from depth charts and regular season schedules. This metric compared cumulative weeks on injury reserve with cumulative time zone travel. West coast teams traveled 4 times as often as east coast teams. However, teams traveling eastward won twice as many games. There was no relationship between the extent and direction of travel and number of turnovers. Losing teams had more turnovers. The offensive and defensive lines in Central Time (CT) were placed on injury reserve 4 times as often as offensive and defensive lines in Pacific Time (PT). Injury prevalence in CT vs. PT was most prominent midseason. Plotting midseason game time relative to biological time revealed that PT teams play games closer to endogenous peaks in alertness, whereas CT teams play games closer to endogenous troughs in alertness. Overall, closer alignment of game time with the endogenous “alerting” signal may protect west coast teams from fatigue-related injuries and suggests for modified strength and conditioning programs.

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