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December 17, 2017

Eagles clinch first-round bye in playoffs

With their 34-29 win over the now 2-12 New York Giants, the 12-2 Philadelphia Eagles have clinched at least the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs.

Had Cincinnati beat Minnesota as well, the Eagles would have also wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. But the Vikings destroyed the Bengals, 34-7. The Eagles' 'magic number' for home field advantage is now one. With one more win, or one more Vikings loss, the road to the Super Bowl in the NFC will go through Philly.

The Eagles are 6-0 at home this season and are the only undefeated team in the NFL at home. They have an eight-game home winning streak dating back to 2016.

Should the Eagles indeed wrap up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, they will have an interesting decision on whether or not to rest their starters Week 17. On the one hand, with season-ending injuries to Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Darren Sproles, and Caleb Sturgis, the Eagles have not been strangers to devastating injuries. Resting starters would help prevent further carnage. 

On the other hand, as we noted earlier this week, over the last 10 years, teams that rested their starters with home field locked up heading into the Week 17 game had a combined record of 3-6 in their first playoff game after the bye. Other No. 1 seeds over that same span that did not rest their starters (whether they had home field wrapped up or not) had a combined record of 9-2 in their first playoff game.

The Eagles' next opponent is the Oakland Raiders on Christmas night.

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