If Raiders coach Jon Gruden hates traveling as much as he claims to, then he might want to think about sitting out the entire 2019 season, and that’s because his team will be flying more miles this year than any other team in the NFL.
The Raiders will be traveling a total of 32,023 miles in 2019, which is more than the Bills, Giants and Jets will travel combined (23,552). The Raiders are the only team in the NFL this year that will travel more than 30,000 miles, which is probably going to come as horrible news to Gruden, who and has been known to suffer from vertigo after periods of extensive traveling.
At this point, Gruden’s best option to avoid travel might be to get himself traded to the Jets, who won’t be leaving the Eastern Time Zone a single time this year. The Jets are scheduled to travel 6,730 miles in 2019, which makes them the only team in the NFL that will travel less than 8,000 miles on the season.
As for the Raiders, not only do they fly the most miles in 2019, but they were also given one of the most brutal travel stretches in the history of the NFL. After playing in Oakland in Week 2, the Raiders won’t return home until Week 8, which means they have to go 49 days without playing at their home stadium.
During that six-week stretch away from Oakland, the Raiders will travel an estimated 21,347 miles. They’ll be traveling more during that 49-day period than 22 NFL teams will travel for the entire season. It’s such an ugly situation that the NFL schedule-maker basically admitted that he messed up.
The schedule-makers also botched things for one other team: The Buccaneers.
The Bucs are also beingstarting in Week 4. During their six-week trip, the Bucs will travel 20,378 miles, which is nearly 10,000 miles more than they traveled all of last season (11,908).
Of course, the one thing these two teams have in common is that they’ll both be hosting a “home” game in London this year, which is a quick way to add to your traveling total. The game in England means the Raiders and Buccaneers will be making a total of nine trips in 2019, while most other NFL teams will only be making eight.
The four teams that will be “hosting” a game in London this year — Tampa, Oakland, Jacksonville and the Los Angeles Rams — are all ranked in the top seven for most travel miles.
If the Raiders and Bucs need anything else to complain about, here’s one more thing: They’ll be going on the two longest single-week road trips in the NFL this year. The Raiders have the longest non-international road trip of the season, which will come in Week 12 when they travel 5,110 miles roundtrip to play the Jets in New York. As for the Bucs, they’re the only other team this season that will have a non-international road trip of 5,000 miles or more, and that will come in Week 9 when they travel 5,040 roundtrip miles to face the Seahawks in Seattle.
Now, if you’re wondering whether or not flying a bunch of miles can actually impact the way a team plays, the answer to that question seems to be maybe, but only if the team is going on an extremely long road trip.
Although flying seems pretty simple these days, flights of over 2,000 miles still seem to have a negative effect on road teams. In the 15-season period from 1997-2011, teams that traveled 2,000 miles or more for a road trip had a winning percentage of just .398, according to Grantland.com. On the other hand, teams that traveled 1,000 miles or less for a road game had a winning percentage 32 points higher at .430.
If we only look at the past five years, the numbers aren’t as drastically different, but that’s only because of the Chargers, who don’t really seemed to be affected by anything. Between 2014 and 2018, road teams traveling under 2,000 miles had an overall winning percentage of .427 (486-652-4) while teams that got stuck on a one-way flight of 2,000 miles or more for a road game had a lower winning percentage of .415 (51-72). (London games don’t count in this total since both teams in London had to travel over 2,000 miles and therefore were basically on equal footing).
And now, here’s where the Chargers come in.
Since moving to Los Angeles in 2017, the Chargers have gone 5-2 in games where they have to fly 2,000 or more miles to a game (4,000 or more miles round trip). Over that same span, the rest of the NFL is just 13-22, which is a winning percentage of just .371. Basically, other teams might want to start consulting with the Chargers, because they’re the only team that seems to have this long-distance travel thing figured out, which is especially good news for them, because they have two of those long-distance games this year.
On the other hand, there are plenty of teams like the Steelers, who almost never win when they have to take a long road trip. Since 2006, the Steelers are 1-7 when traveling 2,000 miles or more to a game, which is a winning percentage of just .125. To put that in perspective, the Steelers have a winning percentage of .599 in all other road games over that span (57-38-1). Unfortunately for the Steelers, they have two games this season where they’ll be flying over 2,000 miles one-way (at Chargers, at 49ers)
So why do teams struggle when they fly 2,000-miles or more?
The biggest problem with a 2,000-mile flight is that it means you’re going to be spending roughly five hours on a plane, and if you’ve ever been on a plane for five hours, then you already know what kind of nightmare that is. Sure, NFL players have the advantage of riding on a chartered flight, which means no crying babies, but players still have to deal with all the issues that we have to deal with: It’s impossible to sleep on a plane, it’s impossible to stay hydrated, your eating schedule changes, the bathrooms are tiny and your entire body gets stiff from sitting down for so long.
Basically, what I’m trying to say here is that there’s nothing good about being on a flight that lasts five hours or more.
Anyway, all of this is bad news for the Seahawks, and that’s because they’re going to have to deal with five one-way flights of at least 2,000 miles in 2019, which leads the NFL. The Seahawks will also be traveling the most miles of any team that doesn’t have an international trip this year.
With that in mind, here’s a look at each team’s travel miles for the upcoming season.
2019 NFL travel miles
(Road games where team travels more than 2,000 miles in parentheses)
1. Raiders: 32,023* (1)
2. Rams: 29,974* (3)
3. Chargers: 28,262** (2)
4. Seahawks: 27,484 (5)
5. 49ers: 25,512 (4)
6. Buccaneers: 24,532* (2)
7. Jaguars: 22,508* (1)
8. Panthers: 22,008* (1)
9. Cardinals: 21,774
10. Texans: 21,368* (1)
11. Bengals: 20,440* (1)
12. Cowboys: 18,074
13. Dolphins: 17,602
14. Bears: 17,234*
15. Ravens: 15,624 (2)
16. Steelers: 15,146 (2)
17. Chiefs: 14,298**
18. Saints: 14,284 (1)
19. Broncos: 14,270
20. Falcons: 13,590 (1)
21. Lions: 13,538 (1)
22. Browns: 13,380 (1)
23. Packers: 12,966
24. Vikings: 12,604
25. Colts: 11,828
26. Titans: 10,706
27. Eagles: 10,346
28. Patriots: 9,906
29. Redskins: 9,358
30. Bills: 8,710
31. Giants: 8,112
32. Jets: 6,730
(*) = playing in London
(**) = playing in Mexico City
Note: The “home” team in each international game will have traveled to a total of nine games in 2019 — all other teams travel for eight games — which means the home international teams will generally have a higher mileage total than most other teams.
Note II: Following their Week 4 game against the Colts, the Raiders are expected to travel from Indianapolis to London for their Week 5 game against Chicago. That mileage has been taken into account. Also, the Rams are expected to make a similar move later in the season. Following their Week 7 game against the Falcons, the Rams are expected to travel from Atlanta to London for their Week 8 game against Cincinnati. That mileage has also been taken into account