PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — After spending all week indoors in the practice bubble, the Eagles decided to hit the field at the Linc for practice on Thursday. It will likely be a bit louder when they are on the same field on Saturday.
It is expected to be a raucous atmosphere in South Philadelphia when the Eagles take on the Falcons in an NFC Divisional Playoff. Despite an underdog status and Carson Wentz in crutches in the sideline, players and coaches alike believe the “12th Man” will provide the type of emotional lift which could make the difference against Atlanta.
Coach Doug Pederson expects a rude welcome for the visitors.
“We want teams to come into our stadium and to feel our fans and to feel the excitement and to feel the noise and to feel everything about Philadelphia,” said Pederson. “I’ve been a visiting player coming into this stadium in a playoff-type atmosphere and it’s tough to play because our fans are loud from the opening kickoff to the last whistle of the game.”
Having a loud crowd means more than just support for the home team. It can create false starts for opposing offenses and throw opposing players completely off their game. Pederson believes the amount of plays influenced by the fans could be the difference in what is expected to be a tight contest.
“This is what obviously we expect Saturday afternoon,” Pederson said. “Our fans will be a huge influence on the game. You’ve seen it time and time again whether it be communication, delay-of-games, time-outs being taken, and it’s a credit to our fans, so we’re excited to be playing at home in front of those folks.”
Corey Clement may have a different perspective about a Philadelphia crowd than most of his teammates. The South Jersey native knows what it is like in the stands at the Linc for an Eagles home game. Clement is looking forward to his first playoff game in front his fellow Delaware Valley residents.
“It’s fun,” said Clement. “It’s a blessing. As far as going out there, I don’t make it bigger than what it is. I’ve been playing football all my life and doing it for my family, my friends and Glassboro, New Jersey.”
The path to a Super Bowl is never easy, but it can be an easier road from one’s home field. Despite the loss of Carson Wentz and an underdog status against Atlanta, the Eagles still have the advantage of the friendly confines of the Linc. For Pederson, it’s hard not to imagine the impact of the home crowd on Saturday. It’s a crowd that will return on January 21st if the Eagles advance to the NFC Championship.
“It can dictate a lot,” Pederson said. “One of the goals every team in the National Football League has at the beginning of the season is to have at least one home Playoff game and then hopefully get two. In our case, we hopefully have two.”