LONDON -- The impact of jet lag has been a hot topic as the Bears prepare to play the Buccaneers on Sunday at Wembley Stadium. Will the Bears be able to adjust to the six-hour time change after arriving in London on Friday morning? Will the Buccaneers be at an advantage because they've been here for six days?
Maybe they will and maybe they won't. But there are other variables that go into the dynamic of playing overseas in a foreign country and not all of them favor the Buccaneers.
For one thing, the game will be played at 6 p.m. London time. That in itself is an adjustment no matter where you're playing the game. The Bears have a decided advantage there. This will be their third consecutive night game and their ninth in the last three seasons.
The Buccaneers have played two night games in the past three seasons. They lost to the New England Patriots 35-7 in London in 2009. And they struggled to beat the winless Colts 24-17 on Monday Night Football at Raymond James Stadium in Week 4 this season -- a game in which they took their first lead with 3:15 left in the game.
Winning in the NFL is all about routine and teams do all they can to maintain one throughout the season. It's a challenge to adjust to any change in the routine and there's definitely a trick to meeting that challenge. That's why the New England Patriots have been the model of excellence in the NFL. They're good on the road, at night, in marquee games and overseas. It's not a coincidence that in their most inclement weather games, the Patriots beat the Titans 59-0 and the Bears 36-7. They are conditioned to handle adversity.
But that same token, the Bears have an edge that might neutralize the jet-lag factor. They're used to adjusting to an altered routine. They've been in playoff games. They're used to distractions. The Buccaneers are in a relative cocoon in Tampa Bay. After barely beating the Colts on MNF, they were smoked by the 49ers 48-3 in San Francisco.
When I asked Buccaneers coach Raheem Morris what went wrong, he sounded like John Belushi explaining to Carrie Fisher why he left her at the alter in ''The Blues Brothers.''
''We had a long trip,'' Morris said. ''It was a short week. Going up to the West Coast. Coming off a Monday night football game. The schedule makers didn't like us that much that week. And it showed in our play.''
Maybe the Buccaneers have learned from the experience. Maybe it won't be a factor at all. But if flying to Frisco after a Monday night game threw the Bucs that out of whack, it's not unreasonable to wonder if the trip to London will affect them no matter when they arrived.
The point is that this game presents challenges for both teams, whether they want to acknowledge it or not. How they adjust to the change in their routine will definitely have an impact in how well they play.