If any player on the Raiders roster is afraid of flying, they might want to think about asking for a trade because Oakland is going to be spending more time in the air in 2017 than any other NFL team. The Raiders will be traveling a total of 32,876 miles this season, which is more than the Steelers, Bengals, Packers and Lions will travel combined in 2017 (30,712 miles).
The Raiders' plane, which is chartered by Hawaiian Airlines, is going to get a serious workout this year.
A big reason the Raiders will be racking up huge frequent flier miles in 2017 is because they'll be making a total of nine road trips while most other NFL teams will only be making eight. The Raiders have an extra trip this year because they'll be flying to Mexico City for a "home" game.
Speaking of international games, the Ravens might end up regretting the fact that they agreed to play a game in London this year, especially since the top teams in their division won't really be doing any traveling at all. For their game in London, the Ravens will rack up more air miles in that one week (7,268), than the Steelers (6,818) will rack up during the entire season. The Ravens' roundtrip total for London is almost more than the Bengals (7,662) will travel in all of 2017.
Maybe that's why John Harbaugh was. He wanted to avoid those dreaded air miles.
The one upside about flying to London is that both teams have to fly forever to get there, which means no one is at a disadvantage when it comes to traveling. However, that's not the case for non-international games, when there's only one team traveling.
Although NFL teams have it pretty easy when they travel these days, it seems that flights of over 2,000 miles still seem to have a negative effect on a team. In the 15-season period from 1997-2011, teams that traveled 2,000 miles or more for a road trip had a winning percentage of just .398, according to Grantland.com. Between 2014 and 2015, that number actually got worse.
During those two seasons, teams that got stuck on a one-way flight of 2,000 miles or more to a road game saw their winning percentage drop to .364, going 16-28. (London games don't count in this total, since both teams in London had to travel over 2,000 miles and therefore were basically on equal footing.)
On the other hand, teams that traveled less than 2,000 miles to get to an away game had a winning percentage of .451 (208-253-1 in 2014 and 2015 combined), which is nearly 100 points better.
There's no solid explanation for why teams struggle after a long flight, but if you've ever tried to work after flying 2,000 miles, you probably get the drift. I flew 2,300 miles for a work meeting last year and I couldn't function for the first three hours off the flight.
The big problem with a 2,000-mile flight is that you're looking at roughly five hours on a plane, which can be a total nightmare, even if you're on a chartered flight. I mean, you can only stare at things in Sky Mall for so long before you eventually get bored or buy something that you don't need. Actually, I don't even think you can do that anymore because I'm pretty sure Sky Mall went bankrupt.
Anyway, the one way to fix your travel problems is to buy your own plane so you can deck it out however you want ... and?
Yup, the Patriots.
Meet AirKraft (Although I'm still calling it Air Force Won).
Clearly, that team will do anything to win. The Patriots actually went 2-0 on long road trips last season, which was better than the rest of the NFL. If you don't count New England, teams went 15-20 on road trips of 2,000 miles or more in 2016.
None of this is good news for the Raiders, who will have to deal with four one-way flights of at least 2,000 miles in 2017. That number is tied with the Chargers for the most in the NFL this season. By the way, you could make the argument that the Chargers actually have the roughest travel schedule this year. Los Angeles' newest team is traveling the most miles of any team that's not involved in an international game.
Here's a look at each team's travel miles for the upcoming season:
2017 NFL Travel Miles
(Road games where team travels over 2,000 miles in parentheses)
1. Raiders: 32,876** (4)
2. Cardinals: 30,414* (1)
3. Rams: 29,167* (2)
4. Dolphins: 27,476* (1)
5. Chargers: 26,938 (4)
6. Seahawks: 25,770 (2)
7. Jaguars: 25,264* (1)
8. 49ers: 23,856 (2)
9. Giants: 22,978 (3)
10. Saints: 22,010*
11. Redskins: 20,754 (3)
12. Eagles: 20,336 (3)
13. Broncos: 18,862
14. Texans: 18,744
15. Ravens: 18,506* (1)
16. Cowboys: 18,004
17. Patriots: 17,868**
18. Vikings: 17, 246*
19. Jets: 16,594 (1)
20. Browns: 16,432 * (1)
21. Chiefs: 15,902
22. Buccaneers: 13,864
23. Bills: 13,236 (1)
24. Colts: 13,088
25. Titans: 13,030
26. Falcons: 12,262
27. Panthers: 12,060 (1)
28. Bears: 8,308
29. Lions: 8,168
30. Packers: 8,064
31. Bengals: 7,662
32. Steelers: 6,818
(*) = playing in London
(**) = playing in Mexico City
Note: Several teams could see their total mileage change. For instance, the Eagles play at Seattle and at Los Angeles (Rams) in consecutive weeks this season and could choose to stay out west for both games.
Note II: The "home" team in each international game will have traveled to a total of nine games in 2017 -- all other teams travel to eight games -- which means the home international teams will generally have a higher mileage total than most other teams.
Note III: Following their Week 6 game against the Jaguars, instead of going back to L.A., the Rams are expected to travel from Jacksonville to London for their Week 7 game in England against Arizona. That mileage has been taken into account.