When the Arizona Cardinals visit M&T Bank Stadium Sunday to tangle with the Ravens, the Cardinals will also be dealing with another opponent: the trend of West Coast teams faring poorly in Eastern time zones.
West Coast teams are 3-4 this season in games that occur in the Eastern time zone, and all three wins have come from the NFC West-leading San Francisco 49ers.
Arizona’s last win in the Eastern time zone took place on Dec. 20, 2009 when the Cardinals defeated the Detroit Lions, 31-24. Since then, they have dropped three straight contests.
Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said the theory that West Coast teams don’t play well on the East Coast is not that far-fetched,
“It’s hard, there’s no question,” Whisenhunt said during his conference call with Baltimore media Wednesday. “There’s no question that it’s hard to come from the West Coast and play a 1 o’clock game on the East Coast from the standpoint of what it does to your body. Some of that is also playing good football teams. It’s tough in the NFL to win on the road no matter who you’re playing against. But when you’re going against a very good football team, it always makes it [tougher]. Baltimore is a tough place to play. We’re certainly aware of that. We’ve been there. Most of us remember when we went in there in ’07 and what that atmosphere was like.”
Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who spent his first seven seasons playing for the Cardinals, said the time difference wreaks havoc on the body and mind.
“It’s definitely different, especially when there’s a three-hour time difference from Arizona,” Boldin recalled. “You’ve got to think that you’re getting up way early. When you’re used to playing at 1 o’clock [on the West Coast], you’re playing at 10 o’clock your time. It’s usually a struggle to get up early and get a fast start.”
Arizona has a plan in place to help acclimate the players to the time difference, but ultimately, the onus is on the players to carry out the game plan effectively against the Ravens.
“We know that it’s a tough challenge, but that is the NFL, and it’s not easy to win on the road, and you’ve got to try to trust your preparation and what you do to get ready for it,” Whisenhunt said. “We’ve got to have some guys make plays for us early.
CORRECTION: Reader Bob Mathers correctly pointed out that the Seattle Seahawks beat the New York Giants, 36-25, on Oct. 9. So West Coast teams are 4-4 in the Eastern time zone this season. My apologies.