It’s gameday for the Seattle Seahawks, as they are on the road taking on the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night, hoping to defeat the Cowboys for the third time in the past thirteen months. The two teams played in December 2017 in Dallas and September of this season at Century Link, with the Hawks winning both games.
This game, however, is different for multiple reasons, with the most obvious being that it is a playoff game and the season is over for the loser. For that reason, it may be a good thing that the teams are playing in the primetime spot on Saturday night for one simple reason: all the data seems to show that when two teams that are based at least two time zones apart are playing in primetime, the western most team has a better shot at winning.
I took a look at the outcome of every primetime game since 1976 involving teams that are at least two time zones apart back in December, so with the same situation arising for the Dallas-Seattle Wild Card game Saturday night, let’s take a look at the numbers for the postseason.
Unfortunately, the NFL only started putting playoff games in primetime starting with the 2001 season, so the data set is not robust. In fact, it’s rather small, according to the Pro-Football-Reference.com game finder there have only been 16 postseason games played in primetime since 1976. While sixteen games is indeed a small sample, it’s a season’s worth of games, so while any results will need to be taken with a grain of salt due to the small sample size, let’s at least see what it shows.
Since it is such a small sample, here’s a table with the full data set.
Postseason games played in primetime with two time zone or larger difference between teams
And, well, there it is. The more western team is 10-6 in these games.
Unfortunately, the home teams are 12-4.
So, I guess take the luck you can get and simply ignore any kind of home field advantage, because that’s what I’m going to be doing.