34-7 and what it means

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Best team in the league by a smorgasbord of metrics versus an opponent they already dismantled. Things could not be much better.

I wouldn't know it. I'm a nervous wreck. I should be more confident, but I can't bring myself to be. I can't imagine how I'll be if the Hawks make the Super Bowl.

The first thing I thought about after realizing the Saints would be heading to Seattle on Saturday? Circadian rhythm. That illustrates my state of being. Here's an excerpt of an excerpt that explains its relevance:

The scheduling of Monday Night Football games presents a unique circadian problem, especially if a team from the West Coast is playing a team from the East Coast. Players on the West Coast team are playing at their equivalent of 5:30 p.m., no matter if the game is in Seattle or Miami. Players on the team from the East Coast, meanwhile, are three hours ahead in their own circadian cycles. In nature, this sort of mismatch couldn't happen. It was only in the last 60 years or so that we've developed a way to travel so quickly across time zones that our internal clocks are no longer in sync with the daylight around us. Fitting its cause, we call this condition jet lag.

Without knowing it, athletes on teams from the East Coast are playing at a disadvantage. Because of the circadian rhythm, which they can't control, their bodies are past their natural performance peaks before the first quarter ends. By the fourth quarter, the team from the East Coast will be competing close to its equivalent of midnight. Their bodies will be subtly preparing for sleep by taking steps such as lowering the body temperature, slowing the reaction time, and increasing the amount of melatonin in their bloodstream. Athletes on the team from the West Coast, meanwhile, are still competing in the prime time of their circadian cycle.

The piece goes on to define the advantage with some historical comparisons that I don't really like. Anyway, this is a thing and Seattle won't have the same advantage this time around. This game will end before MNF's starting time.


Consider this sentence a wonderful segue. I'm now going to find some historical comparisons that may or may not be meaningless. Between the merger in 1970 and 2012, there were 68 regular season games between eventual playoff teams from the same conference where the home team won by a margin between 22 and 32. 17 of those games had a playoff rematch with the same home/away setup.

*Law & Order: SVU intro music* These are their stories.

"Seattle" "New Orleans" Year Week of RS game Regular Season Playoff Rematch yay?
NE HOU 2012 14 42-14 41-28
DAL PHI 2009 17 24-0 34-14
NE SD 2007 2 38-14 21-12
CHI SEA 2006 4 37-6 27-24
GB SEA 2003 5 35-13 33-27
OAK TEN 2002 4 52-25 41-24
DAL ARI 1998 1 38-10 7-20 x
DAL PHI 1995 10 34-12 30-11
DAL GB 1993 5 36-14 27-17
HOU KC 1993 2 30-0 20-28 x
DET DAL 1991 9 34-10 38-6
DEN PIT 1989 9 34-7 24-23
HOU PIT 1989 7 27-0 23-26 x
SF DAL 1981 6 45-14 28-27
DAL LA 1979 7 30-6 19-21 x
PIT HOU 1979 2 38-7 27-13
LA MIN 1977 6 35-3 7-14 x

Hmm. 12 yays, 5 nays. That doesn't tell the story very well. Team Seattle is undefeated since Y2K yet only 6-5 before 2000. Also interesting is that every playoff loss occurred when the regular season game took place before week 9. The late 20th century NFL was so different that it's not even worth looking at. Well shit.

Bonus: Seattle blowing out two playoff teams by more than 25 points this year is rare. Several of the teams to do so went on to win the SB.

tl;dr The last six Saturday-like playoff rematches were won by the home team, and by an average margin of 11.33.

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