The San Francisco 49ers host the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football, which kicks off at 5:30 p.m. PT. The Bears decided to fly out to the Bay Area on Friday, in order to get rested and ready for Sunday's game.
Without getting into too much detail, circadian rhythm involves the 24-hour cycle that impact physical, mental and behavioral changes in organisms. It is not quite the same as the biological clock, but they are related. The general idea is that the human body will follow a general clock in its behavior. Deadspin wrote about it and its impact on athletes a couple years ago, and the clock was described as follows:
Without any help from coffee, most of us tend to perk up around nine o'clock in the morning and stay that way until around two in the afternoon, which is when we start thinking about a nap. Around six in the evening, the body gets another shot of energy that keeps us going until about ten at night. After that, our body temperature starts to fall rapidly, and we get sleepy if we don't turn to coffee or another form of caffeine.
In recent years, there have been multiple studies about the effect of circadian rhythms on prime time football games between west coast teams and east coast teams. Stanford ran a study in the mid-90s, and several universities recently followed up on the subject.
All the results show that West Coast teams have a distinct advantage over East Coast teams on games that start after 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. For example, West Coast teams beat the point spread twice as often as East Coast teams. In the mid-90s Stanford Monday Night Football study, it was determined that if you picked the West Coast team in every game against an East Coast team, you have beaten the spread 70 percent of the time.
For Sunday's 49ers-Bears game, this is not exactly an apples to apples comparison. We are currently in daylight savings time, as opposed to standard time. Neither study seems to mention how that hour impacts the rhythms. Additionally, the Bears are not an East Coast team. They are in the central time zone, so it is only a one hour difference from eastern time.
I suppose this all could end up meaning nothing, but I am curious to see how the Bears look in the latter half of the game. I don't expect to see some huge drop-off necessarily, but if they slow a tick, maybe it costs them. Of course, I would also hope the 49ers blow them out right out of the gate, and this all becomes a moot point.