The Seahawks don't know where they're going yet for their playoff opener, but whether it's to Washington D.C., Minnesota or Green Bay, it won't be a short trip.
With that in mind, the Seahawks are changing things up when it comes to their travel plans for Sunday's regular-season finale at Arizona. Or more accurately when it comes to this season, they're changing by keeping things the same. Traditionally, the Seahawks have traveled on Saturdays for short trips such as NFC West games against San Francisco and Arizona, but on Fridays for trips farther east.
But because the location of this season's road opponents, the Seahawks have traveled two days in advance of every away game except for their Thursday night game at San Francisco, and because their playoff opener will call for a two-night trip, they are staying on that schedule this week despite the relatively short trip to Arizona.
"We're going to take a full weekend trip, and do the things that we normally do to stay in the mode of away games, and see where that leaves us coming after next week," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "It's just to stay in the same travel mode that we've been in. Our guys have done it well, and we want to make sure that we're on it and we don't throw them a curveball and go with a shorter trip right now."
Facing Arizona, which at 13-2 has clinched a first-round bye and might be the hottest team in the NFL, provides a playoff-like test for the Seahawks, not to mention a preview of another possible playoff matchup should the Seahawks get past the Wild Card round. And doing it on the road gives the Seahawks a chance to not just face a good team on the road, something they'll have to do next week, but also to keep the routine that worked well for them in recent road games at Minnesota and Baltimore. If the Seahawks are going to take this season as far as possible, they'll be making a lot of road trips between now and February, so Carroll sees this week as a good chance to get in that road playoff mode.
"We're going to treat this exactly like it's a championship football game, a playoff game, with the travel, the trip and how we do it," Carroll said. "We'll come right back the next week, wherever we're going and do it in the same fashion. We're banking on that we have built up a pretty good process in how we do it. We have the really good back-to-backs. We're going to have to go back to back, maybe to back, to do something really special. The Minnesota-Baltimore swing was a real good one for us to prove that, so we're going to bank on all of that."
A Friday departure means a little less time at home for players, but they like the idea of sticking with what has been working while also preparing for what's to come.
"I do like that," linebacker Bobby Wagner said. "Get out there a little early, get acclimated to things. It kind of gives us time to settle down. Especially when we play on the east coast, give us time to adjust to the time difference. I feel like it has been working for us, so if that's something we're going to do this whole postseason, we might as well get into it now."
Added cornerback DeShawn Shead: "I think it's very helpful. In the playoffs, we'll be traveling and it will be two-day trips. So it's good to go ahead and get a rep in now."