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January 07, 2018

Top-seeded Eagles make history, open as home underdogs vs. sixth-seeded Falcons

Eagles NFL
010718_Eagles-Falcons_usat Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports, File

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham (55) sacks Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) during last season's matchup at the Linc.

The Eagles may have caught somewhat of a lucky break on Saturday night when the Atlanta Falcons upset the Los Angeles Rams in the first NFC wild-card game of the weekend. The 26-13 win for the reigning Super Bowl runner-ups guaranteed them a date with Birds in the divisional round next weekend at the Linc. 

And that's just what fans were hoping for. In our totally unscientific survey, 54 percent of voters believed the Falcons would be the best matchup for the Eagles – 35 percent wanted them to play the Panthers and just 11 percent wanted to see them face the Saints. 

That largely corresponded to what Vegas oddsmakers were saying last week when they revealed that the Birds would be underdogs against the Saints and Panthers, but would be a pick-em against Atlanta.

But after Matt Ryan and the Falcons stunned the No. 3-seeded Rams in their opener, Vegas is slightly higher on Atlanta then they were last week. Currently, they have Atlanta listed as a road favorite against the Eagles.

It's not often you see a No. 1 seed like the Eagles head into their first playoff game as an underdog. But, after losing Carson Wentz in Week 14 and seeing their stock plummet, here we are. 

While it's happened before, it's still rare to see top seeds as underdogs of any kind in the divisional round.

According to Pro Football Reference’s play index, only six previous home teams have been underdogs in the divisional round since 1975, but all of them were No. 2-seeded teams. The most recent time it happened was the 2013 playoffs when the wild-card San Francisco 49ers were favored by a point over the NFC South champion Carolina Panthers. Both teams were 12-4 during the regular season, but the 49ers went home with a 23-10 victory and an NFC title game date with Seattle that they’d lose.  [sports.yahoo.com]

Furthermore, it's never happened in a game featuring a conference's No. 1 team facing a sixth-seeded team.

And, at least early on, it's trending in the wrong direction for the Eagles.

Atlanta being such a heavy road favorite – don't forget the home team usually gets about three points right off the top due to that advantage – isn't due to just one or two oddsmakers overreacting to a big Falcons win. It's nearly unanimous across the board.

BOOK FAVORITE SPREAD
OddsShark ATL -2.5
Intertops ATL -3
BetOnline ATL -2.5
TopBet ATL -3
SportsBetting ATL -2.5
GTBets ATL -2.5
MyBookie ATL -3
BetNow ATL -3
5Dimes ATL -3
SportBet ATL -3
[via OddsShark.com]

Sure, the Eagles can use this as motivation – us against the world, and all that – and have the comfort of playing at home, but it's not going to be easy to knock off the reigning NFC champions. However, if fans want to take solace in anything, it should be this:

And what the hell was going on from 2005-2010?


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