FLOWERY BRANCH -- When the Falcons leave for Seattle on Friday, they will be seeking an NFL road-trip hat trick.
Since the 2000 season, only four of 35 teams have been able to win three consecutive road games.
With a victory over the Seahawks, the Falcons can join the following in pulling off the difficult road trifecta: 2001 and 2005 Jacksonville Jaguars, 2005 Philadelphia Eagles and 2009 New York Giants.
The Falcons have posted back-to-back road victories over Tampa Bay and Carolina, games in their time zone. The next one is different. Atlanta's NFL team normally travels on Saturday, but will leave early to get adjusted to the time change. They will arrive in Seattle at the equivalent of 11 p.m. ET.
"Then we'll get our guys in bed and then have a workout there at the stadium [on Saturday] weather-permitting," Falcons coach Mike Smith said.
Once the schedule was released this past spring, Smith and his staff started planning for the difficult part, which includes this Seattle visit.
Smith, who was on the Jacksonville staff when the Jaguars pulled off the its road-trip hat trick in 2005, said that team made contingency plans based on practice times and travel.
While Smith has reduced the Falcons' practice and meeting time, he's asked his players to sharpen their focus and pay more attention to detail.
"As you get further along in the season, it's imperative that your guys get as much rest as they can because you want your guys to for be as fresh as possible for the last quarter of the season," Smith said.
The Falcons went 11-5 in Smith's first season in 2008, but were 4-4 on the road. The current Falcons are 11-2, 5-2 on the road.
"Given the maturity level of this football team, they are able to handle it," Smith said.
Veteran wide receiver Brian Finneran believes the team benefits from the lighter practices late in the season.
"Shortening the practices by 10 to 15 minutes makes a big difference," Finneran said.
The team was off Monday, but most of the players started getting ready for the Seattle trip that day.
"We just have to make sure that by [Monday] we are taking care of our bodies, getting in the cold tub," Finneran said. "If you are banged up, you have to see the doctors and get some treatments. You have to give yourself a chance to get healthy over the course of the week."
The Falcons have a hydration plan for the fluids that will be lost on the cross-country flight.
"Coach Smith does a great job talking about this and we'll cover it throughout the week," Finneran said. "We'll talk to the young guys about all of this and the coaches will do a good job talking about our plans."
The Falcons will need to win their eighth game in a row to pull off the rare road mastery.
"We are going out there for one thing and that's to get a win," linebacker Michael Peterson said.
Peterson intends to make sure the younger players on defense remain focused.
"I know it's the holiday season and sometimes guys will get caught up and maybe try to get a little shopping in or try to see the city," Peterson said. "But you've got all offseason for that."
The Falcons followed a similar plan when they went to San Francisco last season and came back with a 45-10 victory. In 2008, they beat Oakland 24-0 and San Diego 22-16 on long-distance trips.
"It's worked for us," Smith said.
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