On Sunday, the New England Patriots will kick off their 2016 season against the reigning NFC West champion Arizona Cardinals. The team’s journey to retake the NFL crown will start two days earlier, though.
According to Jeff Howe, the Patriots have opted to leave Massachusetts on Friday:
The Patriots will fly to Arizona on Friday due to the long flight, jet lag, time difference, etc.
Flying earlier than usual - the team typically travels Saturdays - is a smart move by the Patriots considering, as Howe noted, the distance and how it affects traveling. In order to get the best out of the players, they need to get acclimated as much as possible and flying west early gives them a lot of time to do just that - and the players seem to agree.
Defensive tackle Alan Branch told Mike Reiss that having one day to recover helps the body to remove the state of being ‘locked up’ after such a long flight. Receiver Chris Hogan echoes Branch’s thoughts about recovering while adding that it also helps getting adjusted to the time change. Sunday’s game will kick off at 8:30 p.m. ET, which is 5:30 p.m. local time in Glendale, Arizona.
Even though the Patriots opt to travel two days before the game, their practice schedule and thus the players’ rhythm will likely not be altered. After all, the team will still likely hold a walkthrough on Saturday, so the only changes to the schedule might be re-scheduling a possible Friday session to the morning.