Eagles make history as first-ever No. 1 seed to be a Vegas underdog
The opening line at most sports books had the Falcons as a 2.5-point favorite for next Saturday's divisional playoff game.
Judging by the somber sense of resignation you heard crackling through the radio callers on the airwaves this week, the Eagles in the time of Nick Foles 2.0 have yet to fully capture the hearts and minds of their own fan base. It probably should not come as a surprise, then, that the betting market is having some trouble persuading itself to climb aboard.
After the Falcons secured a divisional round match-up at Lincoln Financial Field next weekend with their win over Rams on Saturday night, the opening line at most sports books had the Eagles as a 3.0-point underdog (since moving to +2.5), marking the first time in recorded history that a No. 1 seed has opened up the postseason as a betting line underdog.
The only other comparable in history is the 1997 Chiefs, whose divisional-round game at the No. 1 seed against the Broncos went off as a pick 'em. Kansas City had finished 13-3 that season, but the Chiefs were mired in a quarterback controversy between Elvis Grbac and Rich Gannon. Grbac started the first nine games, then went down with an injury, at which point Gannon took over and went 5-1 down the stretch. The Chiefs ultimately switched back to Grbac in their regular-season finale once the incumbent was healthy.
A home dog in a divisional round is not an unprecedented occurrence, but it is a rare one. According to data archived by Pro Football Reference, the Eagles would be just the eighth home team to host a divisional-round game without being the Vegas favorite to win the game. It last occurred in the 2013 postseason, when the NFC South division champion Carolina Panthers hosted a 49ers team that finished the regular season 12-4 after appearing in the Super Bowl the year before.
The Eagles will face the Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday at 4:35 p.m., with the broadcast on Fox29.