There’s very little room for east coast teams to complain about travel. So many teams after based on the eastern half of the United States and it makes away games far more manageable. West coast teams have the short straw.
In fact, the four teams that have to travel the most during the 2016 season are in the NFC West since they are paired up with the AFC East and NFC South. They basically have to travel to the opposite corners of the country to play their games.
The Los Angeles Rams have to travel 35,952 miles over the course of the 2016 season, more than 10,000 more miles than the 4th place San Francisco 49ers (25,668). The Miami Dolphins rank 5th with 25,548, which is pretty brutal.
Per the NFL information guide, the top five teams “will travel around the world at least once” since the circumference of the globe is 25,000 miles.
The New England Patriots have it pretty bad, too, ranking 10th with 19,336 miles of travel this upcoming year. Road games against the Cardinals and the 49ers certainly don’t help with the distance.
The complete opposite end of the spectrum are the AFC North teams. They have been paired up with the AFC East and NFC East, staying in the north east region of the United States. The Steelers are only traveling 5,142 miles this year, roughly one-seventh the distance the Rams will travel.
What makes the travel for the NFC West teams even more challenging is the fact their strength of schedule (SoS) ranks towards the top of the entire league.
The 49ers are tied for the most difficult SoS at .555 and will play 9 games against teams that were .500 or better in 2015.
The Rams rank 3rd with a SoS of .551, the Seahawks rank 5th at .543, and the Cardinals rank 7th at .531. This means the whole division will be traveling across the country to face some of the best teams around. Don’t be surprised if these teams collapse at the end of the year.
The Patriots have the 9th most difficult SoS at .523, one rank behind the Jets (.531), and immediately ahead of the Bills (.520) and the Dolphins (.516). The Patriots are tied with the Jets and Dolphins for the most games in the NFL (10 games) against teams that finished the 2015 season .500 or better.
The Packers have the easiest SoS at .457, so keep that in mind if you hear of a renaissance out of Green Bay.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick does a good job of preparing his team for long road trips and keeping them focused when they are mentally spent. This is going to be another tough season for the entire team.