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32 Teams in 47 Days: Planning the perfect NFL road trip in 2014

  • By Max Kaplan NFL.com
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Season tickets to the home slate. That's nothing.

You found a way to go to all 16 of your team's games? Easy.

That pales in comparison to the perfect NFL road trip. It is a grueling journey that takes an iron will and tests the perseverance of even the most ardent NFL superfan.

What am I talking about here?

Well, I built a computer algorithm to find the shortest possible trip to see every NFL team during the 2014 season. The only rules were no flying (it's a road trip!) and a full eight hours of rest each night. I even took into account the curvature of the Earth to complete the trip in minimal time.

The number of possible road trips in a 256-game season is unthinkably high. There are about as many possibilities to consider as there are atoms in the observable universe. Or, to incorporate a sports analogy, the odds of someone randomly tossing together my road trip are longer than the odds of someone filling out a perfect March Madness bracket four years in a row. This algorithm sorts through all the possibilities and spits out the optimal trip in seconds.

Who in their right mind would travel to see every team? A football purist would. A fan not tied down by geographical roots. A fan willing to skip the Week 3 Super Bowl rematch in order to attend the riveting Texans-Giants matchup instead. Simply, a fan willing to do whatever it takes.

I am that fan -- despite my football misfortune and disadvantage growing up.

You see, I was raised in the pro football void that is Los Angeles. The Rams and Raiders moved away when I was a baby. I don't have an allegiance to either. (Why would I?) I'm not asking you to feel bad for me. I'm just asking you to understand. To understand that growing up in L.A. without an NFL team is like watching the World Cup without a nation. This is what drives a man to spend his time concocting an epic tour of unadulterated football fandom.

Below, I lay out the road map to see each NFL team by Week 8. Would this be a world record? Not sure. But I am sure there is no quicker route to all 32 teams, given the 2014 schedule. You cannot do better.

Here are some pertinent bullet points of the trek:

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-- 17 games.
-- 47 days.
-- 4 hours of average driving time each day. (I assumed each game took a maximum of four hours, you could drive an average of 60 mph, and you could not drive to London.)
-- 11,589 total miles traveled.
-- East Coast games are finished in early October, before it gets too cold.
-- 6 divisional matchups.
-- 6 Monday Night Football games.
-- 4 Thursday Night Football games.
-- Bonus: You get to see the Giants and Eagles twice.

Without further ado, here's the 17-game slate:

1) Sunday, Sept. 7, 1 p.m. ET (Week 1): Jacksonville Jaguars at Philadelphia Eagles

2) Monday, Sept. 8, 7:10 p.m. ET (Week 1): New York Giants at Detroit Lions
Distance traveled from prior game: 587 miles

3) Thursday, Sept. 11, 8:25 p.m. ET (Week 2): Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
Distance traveled from prior game: 524 miles

4) Sunday, Sept. 14, 1 p.m. ET (Week 2): Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
Distance traveled from prior game: 352 miles

5) Monday, Sept. 15, 8:30 p.m. ET (Week 2): Philadelphia Eagles at Indianapolis Colts
Distance traveled from prior game: 496 miles

6) Thursday, Sept. 18, 8:25 p.m. ET (Week 3): Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
Distance traveled from prior game: 533 miles

7) Sunday, Sept. 21, 1 p.m. ET (Week 3): Houston Texans at New York Giants
Distance traveled from prior game: 862 miles

8) Monday, Sept. 22, 8:30 p.m. ET (Week 3): Chicago Bears at New York Jets
Distance traveled from prior game: 0 miles

9) Sunday, Sept. 28, 8:30 p.m. ET (Week 4): New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys
Distance traveled from prior game: 1,564 miles

10) Monday, Sept. 29, 8:30 p.m. ET (Week 4): New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs
Distance traveled from prior game: 520 miles

11) Thursday, Oct. 2, 8:25 p.m. ET (Week 5): Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Distance traveled from prior game: 625 miles

12) Sunday, Oct. 5, 1 p.m. ET (Week 5): Cleveland Browns at Tennessee Titans
Distance traveled from prior game: 681 miles

13) Monday, Oct. 6, 8:30 p.m. ET (Week 5): Seattle Seahawks at Washington Redskins
Distance traveled from prior game: 683 miles

14) Sunday, Oct. 12, 1 p.m. ET (Week 6): Carolina Panthers at Cincinnati Bengals
Distance traveled from prior game: 510 miles

15) Monday, Oct. 13, 8:30 p.m. ET (Week 6): San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams
Distance traveled from prior game: 348 miles

16) Sunday, Oct. 19, 4:25 p.m. ET (Week 7): Arizona Cardinals at Oakland Raiders
Distance traveled from prior game: 2,053 miles

17) Thursday, Oct. 23, 8:25 p.m. ET (Week 8): San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos
Distance traveled from prior game: 1,251 miles

Total distance traveled: 11,589 miles

Sure, every fan has his own idea of the perfect road trip. It could be the longest-distance drive possible -- maybe to Miami in the winter. Or the shortest one possible, to get home before dinner. Or it could maximize the number of playoff teams seen in a three-week span. Or you might maximize the number of AFC East home games over the entire season. My algorithm can calculate whatever you deem ideal.

For me, the perfect trip is to see every team, compensating for the absence of a team of my own.

 

NFL ROAD TRIPPIN' -- FUN FACTS

In the process of completing this project, I unearthed a number of random facts. One thing to keep in mind: When I refer to each destination, I'm actually specifically talking about the city in which the team plays its home games. With that bookkeeping note out of the way, allow me to empty the notebook ...

LONGEST ROAD TRIPS

The longest road trip in the NFL is Seattle to Miami, running a total of 3,285 road miles. Only five other trips are longer than 3,000 miles -- all of which include Seattle, Miami or New England. Here's that list:

1) Seattle to Miami: 3,285 miles
2) New England to San Francisco: 3,125 miles
3) New England to Oakland: 3,098 miles
4) Tampa Bay to Seattle: 3,091 miles
5) Oakland to Miami: 3,081 miles
6) Seattle to New England: 3,043 miles

SHORTEST ROAD TRIPS

Taking the Giants-to-Jets trip out of the equation -- as the two teams share MetLife Stadium -- there are only four road trips that are less than 100 miles:

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1) Washington to Baltimore: 32 miles
2) San Francisco to Oakland: 33 miles
3) Philadelphia to New York: 96 miles
4) Philadelphia to Baltimore: 99 miles

POTENTIAL DOUBLE DIPS

Short drives and Sunday Night Football occasionally will provide an opportunity to attend two games in one day this fall:

Sunday, Sept. 14 (Week 2)
4:25 p.m. ET: Houston Texans at Oakland Raiders
8:30 p.m. ET: Chicago Bears at San Francisco 49ers
Distance between games: 33 miles

Sunday, Sept. 28 (Week 4)
1 p.m. ET: Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans
8:30 p.m. ET: New Orleans Saints at Dallas Cowboys
Distance between games: 265 miles

Sunday, Oct. 5 (Week 5)
1 p.m. ET: Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants
8:30 p.m. ET: Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots
Distance between games: 207 miles


Around The NFL previews the regular season for all 32 teams before the opening kickoff.

AFC East
» Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
AFC North
» Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
AFC South
» Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
AFC West
» Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
NFC East
» Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
NFC North
» Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South
» Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
NFC West
» Cardinals | 49ers | Rams | Seahawks

Sunday, Oct. 12 (Week 6)
1 p.m. ET: Denver Broncos at New York Jets
8:30 p.m. ET: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles
Distance between games: 96 miles

Sunday, Nov. 2 (Week 9)
1 p.m. ET: Jacksonville Jaguars at Cincinnati Bengals
8:30 p.m. ET: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
Distance between games: 289 miles

Sunday, Nov. 2 (Week 9)
1 p.m. ET: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cleveland Browns
8:30 p.m. ET: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers
Distance between games: 134 miles

Sunday, Nov. 16 (Week 11)
1 p.m. ET: Denver Broncos at St. Louis Rams
8:30 p.m. ET: New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts
Distance between games: 240 miles

Sunday, Nov. 16 (Week 11)
1 p.m. ET: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
8:30 p.m. ET: New England Patriots at Indianapolis Colts
Distance between games: 181 miles

Sunday, Nov. 23 (Week 12)
1 p.m. ET: Detroit Lions at New England Patriots
8:30 p.m. ET: Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
Distance between games: 207 miles

Sunday, Nov. 23 (Week 12)
1 p.m. ET: Tennessee Titans at Philadelphia Eagles
8:30 p.m. ET: Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
Distance between games: 96 miles

Sunday, Nov. 30 (Week 13)
1 p.m. ET: Oakland Raiders at St. Louis Rams
8:30 p.m. ET: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
Distance between games: 241 miles

Sunday, Dec. 14 (Week 15)
1 p.m. ET: Jacksonville Jaguars at Baltimore Ravens
8:30 p.m. ET: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
Distance between games: 99 miles

Sunday, Dec. 14 (Week 15)
1 p.m. ET: Washington Redskins at New York Giants
8:30 p.m. ET: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles
Distance between games: 96 miles

RANDOM TIDBITS

-- Some road trips are exactly the same distance as others. New England is exactly the same distance to Green Bay and St. Louis: 1,187 miles.
-- The most "central" stadium in the NFL is Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium, which minimizes the total distance to all 31 other teams. The most remote team is Seattle, followed by the other West Coast teams.
-- While Indianapolis is the most "central," St. Louis is the "average" location, being pushed west by the distant Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland and San Diego. In a sense, Indy is the median and St. Louis is the mean.

HARDEST STADIUMS TO GET TO

From Chicago, the closest stadium is Indy's and the furthest is San Francisco's. Surprisingly, San Francisco's stadium (not Seattle's, New England's or Miami's) is the furthest drive for half of the teams in the league. Here are the hardest places to get to for the NFL's 32 teams:

1) San Francisco: 16 teams
2) Seattle: 10 teams
3) New England: 4 teams
4) Miami: 2 teams

TWO MORE POSSIBILITIES, ACCORDING TO MY ALGORITHM

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32 games, 32 stadiums
-- Finish by Thursday Night Football, Week 13.
-- 25,949 miles traveled (one trip around the globe).
-- Starts and ends with the reigning champs. Begins in Seattle for the 2014 Kickoff Game and closes out at stadium No. 32, as Seattle visits San Francisco.
-- If you allow plane flights, you can see all 32 stadiums by Week 11.

Most games, all season
-- 51 games by car or 56 games car/plane.
-- Allows you to see every team three times in one season.

Max Kaplan is a research analyst for NFL Network. He is a junior in the engineering school at Princeton University. He still is looking for an NFL team to call his own. You can help guide him on Twitter @maxakaplan.

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