The Los Angeles Chargers tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for the most wins in the AFC at 12 apiece in the 2018 NFL regular season, but because the Chiefs got the No. 1 seed, Kansas City earned a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Chargers have received the worst draw possible.
There are a total of four time slots for Wild Card Weekend, and the Chargers now have to travel east to play Baltimore in the first slate of action on Sunday. The 1 p.m. ET kickoff may not be a big deal for the Ravens, but it’s created a nightmare scenario for L.A. since it’s going to feel like 10 a.m. for the Bolts.
The numbers speak for themselves on this issue. Since 2002, Pacific and Mountain time zone NFL clubs have been outscored 202-56 in the first half of all 1 p.m. playoff contests. Considering the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears – who play in the Eastern and Central time zones – will collide at 4:40 ET on Sunday, this is a situation that could’ve easily been avoided by the league.
The best example came three years ago when the Seattle Seahawks traveled to Carolina to take on the Panthers in the early slot of the divisional round. Carolina outscored Seattle 31-0 in the first half before the Seahawks woke up and put 24 points on the board in the second half. The Seahawks’ poor start ultimately cost them despite the Panthers getting blanked in the final two quarters of the game, as Carolina advanced to the NFC championship game with a 31-24 triumph.
Ravens’ first-half spread could be appealing
When it comes to a sports betting angle, it’s created yet another reason to consider backing the Ravens. Sportsbook has the Ravens’ first-half spread at -1.5 (-115), with the OVER/UNDER for the first two quarters sitting at 20.5. Baltimore and Los Angeles met as recently as Week 16, when the Ravens came away with a relatively easy 22-10 road victory. Baltimore outscored L.A. 6-3 in the first half.
Last March, the Chargers, San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals proposed a rule to be discussed at the NFL meetings that would limit the number of early games teams in the Pacific time zone would have to participate in. Considering the impact early road games have had on West Coast squads over the years, it’s easy to understand their concern.