Impact of Travel on Las Vegas Raiders

Jairo Alvarado

The Raiders have acquired plenty of frequent flyer miles over the years, and as good as that may sound, research shows it’s not a good thing.

Over their last seven years in Oakland, the Raiders have ranked within the top five and four times were the No. 1 most traveled team in the NFL.

Research done by Grantland in 2012 showed how the team's traveling affected the team’s success. Road teams who traveled under 999 miles had a 43 percent chance of winning the game. Miles between 1,000 and 1,999, chances dropped to 40.3 percent, and organizations going on a one way trip over 2,000 miles, the chances dropped to 39.8 percent.

Aside from road games in the last couple of years, we have seen the Raiders lose a home game over trips to London and Mexico City, which added tremendously to their traveling.

As if the move to Las Vegas would help, the Raiders will head into 2020 ranked fifth in traveling miles, approximately 20,967 miles, arguably the lowest the Raiders have been expected to fly in over a decade. Moving to a more central part of the country should help the Raiders in the future.

After the research done by Grantland, the NFL was not fair to the Raiders.

In 2014, the Raiders led the league in traveling miles with 36,104, most by any NFL team in the last decade. That season included a trip to London and four road games in which the team traveled more than 2,000 miles. The Raiders finished the season with a 3-13 record.

In 2015, the Raiders were ranked as the third-most traveling team in the NFL, with 26,336 miles. They had no overseas games, but managed to have three road games for which the team had to travel more than 2,000 miles. The Raiders managed a better record than the previous year, closing the season wth a 7-9 record and falling short of the playoffs.

In 2016, the Raiders overcame the disadvantage, after placing as the second-most traveling team in the NFL at 31,580 miles. Although having a trip to Mexico City that year, the Raiders were able to reach the playoffs without an injured Derek Carr and fell to the Houston Texans, But they earned their first winning season since the 2010-2011 season, recording a 12-5 record.

In 2017, the trend began to rise again. The Raiders led the league with the most traveling miles at 32,876. The team traveled back to Mexico City and faced four road games in which they had to travel more than 2,000 miles. The Raiders would fall to a 6-10 record.

In 2018, the Raiders became the first NFL team to lead the league in traveling miles in back-to-back seasons with 31,732. It consisted of a trip to London and three other long road trips. Heading on a downward slope, they closed the season with a 4-12 record.

Last year, the Raiders for the third year in a row led the league in traveling miles with 32,023, with a return trip to London against the Chicago Bears, and closed the season with a 7-9 record. The Raiders were the only NFL team to surpass 30,000 traveling miles a year ago.

Note that most teams do not necessarily travel back home after each away game, but most of the time, the Raiders did.

Data has shown that the NFL gives no justice to the Raiders. And over the last seven years, the Raiders have continuously been atop of the rankings.

Sure, they might have plenty of SkyMiles for the offseason, but the lack of rest and change of time zones does affect how the team can prepare itself for their next opponent and the rest of the season.

Looking into this year, the move to Las Vegas should help, the numbers seem much better than previous years, but that shouldn’t stop the Raiders from advocating for a better schedule for years to come. 

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