So far this season the Falcons are 0-2 on the road with another away game coming Sunday against a Seahawks team that had a big win last week over a division rival. The Falcons' record in the Georgia Dome is something to smile about but they know they have to play better on the road to get where they want.
"Obviously, we've got to do better on the road," running back Michael Turner said. "We've got to get some wins on the road. That's what championships do and if that's what we want to be here we've got to win on the road."
A west coast trip can be something of an unusual event for a team that spends its time in the Eastern Time Zone. The four hour difference is significant but not something that messes up internal clocks for east coast teams quite like it can for west coast teams coming east. Still, the Falcons put into action a plan when they go to the far corners of the country, especially Seattle, to ensure there's time to adjust.
Much like they did last season when they went to Seattle, the Falcons will fly out on Friday afternoon, unlike their typical Saturday travel day.
"Smitty (Coach Smith) has done a great job of putting us in a good position to be prepared for these trips," Matt Ryan said. "It takes a toll on your body going out there and trying to stay fresh but the way that he sets up the schedule and demands us to stay focused, he always has us ready to play. We just kind of trust in his system and try to buy into it."
The Falcons are undefeated in five west coast trips under Smith so there's reason to be optimistic the travel won't hurt the team's ability to adjust. All the extra preparation allows them to play their game once they're in the stadium, which is still a significant accomplishment. CenturyLink Field is widely regarded as one of the toughest places to play in the NFL.
The stadium is an open air arena, but the design of the stadium allows the home crowd to make an impact. The partial roof and the layout of the seating serves as a reflector for noise, sending everything directly to the field. Seattle prides itself on being one of the loudest fan sets in the league and many players agree it can cause problems.
"I think it's the loudest stadium I've ever played in," running back Michael Turner said. "We have to have zoom focus and be locked in, listening to Matt and listening to the playcall. We've got to go out there and execute, block everything out. It's difficult at times but you've got to go out there and do your job."
Defensive end Kroy Biermann said the seating makes the fans feel like they're on top of you and you can hear everything they say if you try. Cornerback Brent Grimes said the focus for both offense and defense will be to make plays and take the crowd out of the game.
Fortunately, the Falcons are used to playing environments like that. They play in a loud dome themselves and routinely visit one of the rowdiest stadium experiences in the league: the Superdome in New Orleans. They have a system to maintain hearing in these environments.
"Our communication has to be really good," Ryan said. "We'll have to be on top of it. We've done a great job in situations like this .We play in New Orleans which is loud every year. You kind of get used to those types of situations. Our communication just needs to be really good."