The Eagles did not enter the 2013 campaign with a home field advantage. If anything, it seemed like playing at Lincoln Financial Field was a home field disadvantage. That perception didn't change when the Eagles started their season with an 0-4 home record. 413 days had passed since the last Eagles home win.
Things changed when Brandon Boykin intercepted Robert Griffin III in the end zone and sealed the Eagles first home win in 2013 on November 17th. With that victory, the Eagles proved they could win at a home again. Then they faced the Cardinals after the bye, and beat them. The Eagles proved they could beat a good team at home. Next up, the Detroit Lions came to town. Not only did the Eagles prove they could sustain a home winning streak, but they proved they could beat the elements as they thrived in the snow. Most recently, the Eagles took on the Bears team that was playing to clinch the NFC North. This time, the Eagles proved they could stage a blowout victory at home.
One of the biggest takeaways from that Bears 54-11 home win wasn't about the Eagles themselves. It was about the fans. As a member of the media who covers the games from the press box at the Linc, I've been to every home game this year. None of those games featured the type of atmosphere in that Eagles-Bears blowout. Before the game even started, the stadium felt electric. Eagles fans were clearly ready for the game. When you think about it, that's impressive considering the Eagles didn't even have much to play for, other than potential playoff seeding.
The fan support only grew as the Eagles continued to dominate Chicago. Outcries of "Dallas Sucks!" and "We Want Dallas!" emerged stadium wide. It was unlike anything I had heard all year. Gone were the boos of disapproval. In their place were the loudest cheers and chants of the year.
Playoff atmosphere is back at the Linc! RT @BrandonGowton Emphatic "Dallas Sucks" chants from the Eagles fans in front of the press box.— BleedingGreenNation (@BleedingGreen) December 23, 2013
Home field advantage is officially back in Philadelphia, which is a good thing for an Eagles team facing the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the playoffs this Saturday night. Much is made of the Saints strong performance in the Super Dome, but it's also no secret the Saints struggle on the road (3-5 away record). The Philadelphia home crowd advantage can especially work into the Eagles favor.
During this four game home winning streak, the Eagles average a win with a score of 33 to 17, nearly doubling their opponent's score. The Eagles have scored at least 24 points in each of those games and never allowed more than 21. In a more historical context, since NFL realignment in 2002, home teams are 26-18 in the wild card round.
The fans are clearly ready for this game. Unlike some other NFL cities (looking at you, Green Bay and Indianapolis), Eagles playoff tickets sold out in mere minutes. Eagles coach Chip Kelly lauded the fans for their support in his press conference this week.
[The fans] have been great, every game we have been in the Linc. We just didn't execute well on the first four and we played really well in the last four. But just the memories that you kind of think back and listen to them, the ‘We want Dallas’ chants in the Chicago game or just how loud they were in the Detroit game in the snow. And there were a couple times that I don't think we could see the crowd because of how hard it was snowing down there. But they have been unbelievable and I think it's the fact that we got a chance to win the division and get to come and play a game back at home is huge for us and we are excited about playing at the Linc. We know it's going to be rocking on Saturday.
There's no question the fans will hold up their end of the bargain this Saturday night. Time will tell if their support helps the Eagles earn a home playoff win.