Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Digging Deeper into the Steelers Road Woes

Last week I wrote about how the Steelers have not fared well outside of the Eastern Time Zone. Since this is a bye week and there's not much going on in Steelers Country, I decided to dig a little deeper into the numbers. Perhaps the simple analysis of Eastern Standard Time vs Non-EST didn't show the whole picture, so I decided to break it down by time zone and see how the Steelers fared.

To briefly recap: in the Mike Tomlin Era (2007-present) the Steelers hold a 36-10 record at home, 20-8 record in road games in the Eastern Time Zone and 5-12 record in games outside the Eastern Time Zone. Those numbers include regular season and playoff games.

When I dug deeper into the 5-12 road record, my first instinct was to break it down by time zone. In Central Time, the Steelers were 3-6 with wins coming in St Louis, Tennessee, and Kansas City. The six losses came to Tennessee, Chicago, Kansas City, New Orleans, Houston and to Green Bay in the Super Bowl in Dallas. The Steelers posted a similar 33.3% winning percentage in Mountain Time with a 1-3 record in Denver (including the playoff loss) and a 1-1 record in Arizona. Surprisingly, the Steelers have only played two games in the Pacific Time Zone under Tomlin (San Francisco last year and Oakland this year) and they lost them both.

The Steelers record obviously got worse the farther they traveled from home, and this made the next question obvious: does mileage make a difference? This provided an interesting point of analysis because cities like Miami and Tampa in the Eastern Time Zone were actually farther from Pittsburgh than some cities in the Central Time Zone.
  • The Steelers were 8-4 in games less than 250 miles from Pittsburgh. Three of these four losses came in Baltimore.
  • When the Steelers had to travel 250 to 500 miles, they were 6-4, a 60% winning percentage.
  • When travelling 500 to 1000 miles, the Steelers were 5-3, a 62.5% winning percentage.
  • When travelling 1000 to 1500 miles, the Steelers were 5-6.
  • The Steelers played no games against opponents between 1500 and 2000 miles but were 1-3 against teams over 2000 miles away.
The interesting point of analysis is the games from 1000 to 1500 miles away. When these games were played within the Eastern Time Zone in Miami (1200 miles) and Tampa (1100 miles) the Steelers were undefeated with a 4-0 record. One of those victories was the Super Bowl XLIII win over Arizona. When these games required the team to travel outside the Eastern Time Zone to New Orleans (1100 miles), Dallas (1250 miles), Houston (1400 miles) or Denver (1460 miles), the Steelers were just 1-6. While this is still a small sample size of games, it is clear that the distance traveled does not have a direct impact on the Steelers ability to bring home a W. The bigger impact is seen when the clocks change and the team has to play in another time zone.

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