Tuesday, May 12, 2015

NFL Road Trip 2015

A couple of weeks ago, the NFL schedule was released. I've been busy travelling since then, so haven't had time to put together the usual NFL road trip post until now. This is merely to help other fans an idea of what a full-season expedition looks like and might help those considering making the trip themselves - there is no chance I would do this again.

Before I get to the games, a few points. The schedule is based on the assumption that you are driving to every game (except the one in London obviously), and so the main objective is to minimize the number of miles driven (and gas purchased) as opposed to seeing the best games every week.

Secondly, this is supposed to be an enjoyable exercise, so drives longer than 600 miles a day are avoided where possible, as are same-day doubleheaders. It just isn't worth the hassle of seeing both Soldier Field and Lambeau on the same day (which can be done in Week 2); those venues need to be experienced without rushing through them. Finally, you must begin with the season opener in New England, a symbolic start to the excursion. As is always the case, you need to see 32 games in 17 weeks, so plenty of Thursday and Monday contests are on the slate. This season, you can add London to the mix:

Week     Date      Vis  Home   Time
  1   Thu, Sep 10  Pit   NE    8:30
  1   Sun, Sep 13  Sea   Stl  12:00
  2   Thu, Sep 17  Den   KC    7:25
  2   Sun, Sep 20  Det   Min  12:00
  2   Mon, Sep 21  NYJ   Ind   8:30
  3   Thu, Sep 24  Was   NYG   8:25
  3   Sun, Sep 27  Phi   NYJ   1:00
  4   Thu, Oct 01  Bal   Pit   8:25
  4   Sun, Oct 04  NYJ   Mia London
  5   Thu, Oct 08  Ind   Hou   7:25
  5   Sun, Oct 11  Den   Oak   1:25
  6   Sun, Oct 18  Car   Sea   1:05
  7   Thu, Oct 22  Sea   SF    8:25
  7   Sun, Oct 25  Oak   SD    1:05
  7   Mon, Oct 26  Bal   Ari   5:30
  8   Sun, Nov 01  GB    Den   6:30
  9   Thu, Nov 05  Cle   Cin   8:25
  9   Sun, Nov 08  GB    Car   1:00
 10   Sun, Nov 15  Car   Ten   1:00
 11   Thu, Nov 19  Ten   Jax   8:25
 11   Sun, Nov 22  Ind   Atl   1:00
 12   Thu, Nov 26  Chi   GB    7:30
 12   Mon, Nov 30  Bal   Cle   8:30
 13   Thu, Dec 03  GB    Det   8:25
 13   Sun, Dec 06  Hou   Buf   1:00
 13   Mon, Dec 07  Dal   Was   8:30
 14   Sun, Dec 13  NO    TB    1:00
 14   Mon, Dec 14  NYG   Mia   8:30
 15   Sat, Dec 19  NYJ   Dal   7:25
 15   Mon, Dec 21  Det   NO    7:30
 16   Sat, Dec 26  Was   Phi   8:25
 16   Sun, Dec 27  Pit   Bal   8:30
 17   Sun, Jan 03  Det   Chi  12:00

Using Google Maps directions between stadiums and assuming that you start and finish in Foxboro, this trip would take 21,362 highway miles. The toughest drive is from Houston to Oakland, nearly 2,000 miles in just over two days, but it can be done.

You would see the Jets, Baltimore, Green Bay and Detroit on the road three times (plus a second Miami "home" games if you flew to London), while Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Denver, Washington, Carolina, and Seattle would be the visitors on two occasions each. A number of teams are skipped on the road, most notably the defending champion Patriots, which means you would miss Tom Brady since you would start the season at Gillette Stadium. I mentioned flexibility above, though, and if you needed to see the Pats, you could switch Weeks 3 and 10, visiting Nashville for the Colts on September 27, and then hitting the Rex Bowl on November 12 and then the Pats at Giants the following Sunday. Other examples are switching Buffalo and Chicago in Weeks 13 and 16 if you'd rather finish with yet another Jets game, or checking out Week 5's MNF battle as the Steelers visit San Diego instead of waiting for the Raiders to visit Qualcomm on October 12. In all these cases, I've chosen the game that will limit your driving.

The best part of this schedule is the number of quality games. You get 20 divisional battles, including both Pittsburgh/Baltimore tussles. In fact, all games featuring AFC and NFC North teams are within the division, which should mean some smashmouth football. This season, the NFL is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl by highlighting past matchups on the schedule, and you would be at two of them: Jets at Colts and Packers at Broncos. You'd finish in frigid Chicago, which could present problems on the highway should a new year's snowstorm arrive, but that is about your only worry. All in all, a decent plan that is fun to think about; if you end up doing this one, let me know and we can meet at one of the games in New York.



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