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Saints vs. Falcons: Atlanta historically successful in short weeks

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The Falcons won Thursday Night Football games in both the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

Al Messerschmidt

Just four days after beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, 24-23, the Falcons have to be ready to face another divisional opponent when the New Orleans Saints travel to the Georgia Dome for a Thursday Night Football game.

While certainly a challenge that snaps the usual routine of a regular season, it is a challenge that the Falcons have done very well at since Mike Smith took over as head coach. The Week 13 game will be the third time in as many years that the Falcons play a game on a Thursday, and it could be the third win. Quarterback Matt Ryan told Daniel Cox of what the team has done to be ready for Thursday night games:

"We've done it before so we understand what it takes to get yourself prepared on a short week," Ryan said. "Your mental focus has to be better than what it is during a regular week because you're not going to have the same amount of reps physically that you'll usually get. I think everybody's focus has been really good so far this week and it needs to stay that way."

The Falcons beat the Buccaneers and Ravens during a five-day span in 2010 and beat the Panthers and Jaguars in the same amount of time during 2011.

With a four-game lead in the NFC South, tied with the Broncos for the largest division lead, a win on Thursday would give the Falcons the chance to clinch the division if the Buccaneers lose on Sunday to the Broncos.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.