The most difficult part of the NFL’s annual London game for the participating teams is the five-hour time difference. One of the most discussed decisions regarding that game is when the teams will arrive on the other side of the Atlantic. This year the New England Patriots have decided to arrive in London on Friday, three days after the opposing St. Louis Rams arrive.
The team arrivals are decided by the head coaches and are a big part of the preparation for the annual contest. This year Rams head coach Jeff Fisher has decided that they will arrive on Tuesday morning while Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has decided his team will arrive on Friday morning.
The basic rule of thumb for adjusting to time zone difference is that it takes one day for each hour difference. The Rams have taken that advice by arriving Tuesday, but the Patriots plan on arriving just two and a half days before kickoff, which could make a difference when the teams face off Sunday night local time.
There is the possibility that it may not affect the teams at all. For the 2011 game, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers arrived Monday night for the game while the Chicago Bears arrived on Friday morning. The Bears went on to win that game convincingly 24-18.
Another issue to look at about arrival times is the teams themselves. The Buccaneers last year finished the season 4-12 while Bears played that game during a five game winning streak. This season, the Rams are much better than they have been in the past and the Patriots have been struggling. Two of the four losses this season for the Rams were to the likely playoff bound Bears and Packers and they’ve beaten two teams that the Patriots have lost to.
There still is clearly no consensus about the best method for traveling across the Atlantic Ocean for the annual London game. Some teams believe that arriving early will help them acclimate to the time change and conditions while others believe that a week’s worth of practice at their own practice facility will do them better. The effects of the two team’s travel schedule will be seen Sunday afternoon when the Patriots face the Rams at the world famous Wembley Stadium.