Do the Eagles Really Have a Home Field Advantage? (Part One)
By Bob Wankel
Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a two-part series examining the Eagles performance at Lincoln Financial Field.
I was sitting around with a buddy of mine the other night and we were talking about this week’s Dallas game. I was doing the whole “I don’t know” bit, going through the worst-case scenarios and each of the ways the Eagles could lose on Sunday night. He wasn’t having it, assuring me the Eagles would somehow get the win.
Despite his best efforts, I remained unconvinced. I don’t know, I guess I’m a bit of a pessimist. But when the conversation reached a stalemate, he dropped the “there’s no way they’ll lose a night game at the Linc against Dallas after a full day of tailgating” line. And that inspired me to write a piece I’ve been meaning to get to…
The crowd at Lincoln Financial Field sucks. Soaring ticket prices and a corporate feel has replaced the raucous, rowdy and rabid crowds of Philadelphia’s football past. The Linc isn’t the Vet, and while that’s a good thing in many ways, it’s not when it comes to the atmosphere.
Gone are the days of cheering for Dallas injuries. Gone are the days of drunk, pissed off, and disillusioned twenty-somethings letting out the frustrations of their disappointing lives by beating the crap out of each other during the middle of the third quarter. Gone are the days of the abusive language and generally obnoxious behavior from the majority of the fanbase.
Where’s the fun in that?
In all seriousness, though, Lincoln Financial Field has become just like a every other cookie-cutter stadium in the NFL where the end zone scoreboards urge the crowds to make noise.
When the Eagles fell to the Giants and 49ers at home earlier this year, there were an awful lot of seats left vacant late in both games by a fanbase that considers themselves the most passionate in football. Sure, you can argue fans were frustrated. And they should be. You can argue that traffic is brutal after games, so it’s reasonable to get a head start. And that may all well be true. But it’s still weak.
The Eagles have been horrible at home since the start of 2010 despite fielding one of the better teams in the NFL. They have lost six of their last ten games in South Philadelphia, including five straight. The Eagles were heavily favored in three of those games. Didn’t matter.
Last season, the Eagles lost a listless and pathetic 24-14 game on a Tuesday night to a Minnesota team led by a third-string quarterback with absolutely nothing to play for. They followed that up with a meaningless loss to Dallas in Week 17, and a loss in the NFC Wildcard Round to eventual Super Bowl Champion Green Bay to cap a disappointing finish.
This year, the Eagles have lost their first two games at Lincoln Financial Field despite entering both contests as near double-digit favorites. Some home field advantagen huh?
Eagles football has been miserable at the Linc over the past two seasons, despite enjoying overall success since the stadium was built in 2003. The Eagles are 44-28 overall at home, including a 4-2 record in postseason play, good for an .611 winning percentage. But that’s meant nothing of late.
So if you want to argue that the overrated trio of Eagles cornerbacks will shut down the Dallas pass offense, that’s fine. If you want to argue that the Eagles pass rush will get to quarterback Tony Romo and Michael Vick will make just enough plays, I’m listening.
But don’t tell me that the Eagles are going to come out on top Sunday night because of some fierce home field advantage ignited by a raucous crowd. Those days are gone.
In fact, here’s hoping the Eagles don’t have to play one of those knock-down-drag-out NFC East games on Sunday night. You know, I wouldn’t want fans to have to choose between sitting in traffic and watching a decisive drive in the final moments. That traffic is awfully bad.