To hear Jim Schwartz tell it, Eagles fans could be the difference between a playoff win or a loss on Saturday against the Falcons.
By now everyone knows what the Philadelphia Eagles will be up against when they begin their quest for a Super Bowl late Saturday afternoon.
Carson Wentz, the Eagles MVP quarterback is hurt and Philly’s postseason hopes lie on the shoulders on Nick Foles, who has not exactly inspired confidence. The Eagles will face an Atlanta Falcons team who was the NFC champions last year and come into Lincoln Financial Field off a huge win against the Los Angeles Rams in the Wild Card round.
To add insult to injury, the Vegas oddsmakers have the Birds as an underdog at home, the first time in history that has happened in the NFL playoffs when a No. 1 seed is playing a No. 6 seed.
But really, would Philly want it any other way?
It has been generally accepted that if the Eagles have a chance in Hell of beating Matt Ryan and the Falcons, it will be up to the defense to make it happen. Which is exactly why getting the No. 1 seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs was so crucially important.
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has had his guys playing very well all season long, but at the Linc they have been exceptional.
At home the Bird’s defense has allowed just 12.5 points and 281 yards per game compared to 21.8 points and 332 yards when they are away from South Philly. In addition, opposing quarterbacks had a 74.2 passer rating and running backs averaged just 3.3 yards per carry at home. Those numbers went up to 84.6 and 4.3 when the Birds played on the road.
Numbers like that don’t lie.
So yes. If the Eagles want to play more than one playoff game this season, the defense needs to show up and have a monster day right out of the gate.
According to Schwartz, the fans will play a huge role in that.
Schwartz spoke about home field and how important a role it will play in Saturday’s game in his press conference Monday. He seems to think the fans will have just as important a role as the players when determining a winner.
“That’s why it was important for us to get home-field advantage. You take the travel out of the equation [and] it’s tough on opponents when the fans are loud. I know our fans will be loud.
“It’s tough on the opponents in a hostile environment, and that’s what Philly is. That’s what the Linc is.
“It’s been a great home-field advantage for us over the course of the season, and it’s not just the players on the field. The fans in the stands are going to mean an awful lot to coming out with a victory on Saturday.”
Much has been made as of late about if home field advantage is fact or fiction. Philly.com recently published a piece trying to debunk the idea as nothing more than a myth and the story got just about the response you would think in a city like Philadelphia.
Philadelphia sports fans are legendary. We are some of the most feared, most hated and most reviled that you will find anywhere in this country. That reputation has dimmed somewhat in the post-Veterans Stadium era, but it is still there, just under the surface. You can almost feel it any time you cross Broad and Pattison.
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Teams have hated coming to Philly to play for decades and it is long overdue that everyone remember why.
You are on notice Eagles Nation. Show up Saturday. Be loud, be aggressive and make Atlanta regret ever even thinking about coming into our house to try and take a win from us.
Kickoff is 4:35. Get ready.