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Seahawks vs. Cardinals, Sunday Night Football: Seattle has been dominant in Prime Time

Night games have been good to the Seahawks. Really, really good.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

If the Seahawks' resurgent defense and Arizona's inexperience at the quarterback position aren't enough to raise expectations to ridiculous levels, consider also the power of playing in prime time.

As I may have noted before, Seattle is not only within walking distance of being the Westernmost NFL city (Oakland/Santa Clara are a few miles West), it is the Northernmost NFL city by a difference of almost 300 miles.

Interesting, but so what?

So... in the depths of winter, not only is sunrise delayed as you move from East to West, but the planet's big, fat equatorial belly bulge exacerbates the effect at Northern latitudes, creating even more of a delay. Thus for 21 December 2014:

City Sunrise PST Difference Hours to
early game
Hours to
night game
Seattle 7:55 AM 0:00 2:05 9:35
Oakland 7:21 AM 0:34 2:39 10:09
San Diego 6:47 AM 1:08 3:13 10:43
Phoenix 6:28 AM 1:27 3:32 11:02
Denver 6:18 AM 1:37 3:42 11:12
Minneapolis 5:48 AM 2:07 4:12 11:42
St. Louis 5:48 AM 2:07 4:12 11:42
Philadelphia 5:19 AM 2:36 4:41 12:11
Indianapolis 5:02 AM 2:53 4:58 12:28
Miami 4:03 AM 3:52 5:57 13:27

San Diego, for example, uses the same time zone as Seattle. But to the extent that sunlight affects a person's body clock, a player acclimated to San Diego will be an hour and eight minutes fresher for a morning game, and an hour and eight minutes more tired as a night game wears on.

This effect has, to all appearances, conferred a tremendous advantage to the Seahawks in night games. How big an advantage? For perspective, here's what home field means to the Seahawks (showing win percentage and average point differential) during the Pete Carroll era, excluding night games:


With the usual caveats about sample size and other factors (such as strength of opponent), Seattle has performed surprisingly well in morning games during the same time frame, once we isolate home field:


Methinks the Seahawks have done their job of adjusting to different start times, but perhaps their opponents have not been so diligent. Now we swing over to a comparison of all non-night games (regardless of location), and the 15 night games played during the Carroll era:


In fact, the Seahawks have performed better in night games away from home than they have in afternoon games at the Clink:


So tonight's critical matchup against the Cardinals may not be a geographically home game, but it is a temporally home game.