Philadelphia Eagles fans are returning to Lincoln Financial Field for Sunday’s 1 p.m. home game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Just don’t expect to see the typical crowd of 69,000-plus that the Linc typically holds. There is going to be a 7,500-person limit. The number includes stadium personnel, team officials and news media. Perhaps a little over 7,000 actual fans will actually be seated for the contest.
Call it a significant emotional breakthrough for spectators and bettors.
This is six points for the psyche during a time when there is a global pandemic impacting the pro sports landscape.
Welcome back, fans!#FlyEaglesFly
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) October 13, 2020
The Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a few of the other Week Six home teams allowing limited fans at reduced capacity limits.
Fans and what they mean to NFL betting lines
The Eagles opened as a 7.5-point underdog at DraftKings Sportsbook, and it was posted before news regarding the fans was announced.
And the Eagles’ odds have held steady since. Baltimore is still -7.5 at DraftKings as of early Thursday afternoon. Attendance would have to be near capacity to attain the traditional three-point home-field advantage bookmakers apply to the line.
Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations, told PlayNJ last month that home-field edge without fans was roughly 1.5 points. The numbers factor in home teams remaining in their practice facilities and not having to travel.
Then there is the social distancing factor.
How will limited, social-distanced live spectators impact the NFL season?
Current attendance levels at NFL venues are small enough not to impact play-calling signals or disturb field-goal attempts by visiting teams. They also may not be enough to lift the home team to another level, but they at least give the stadium a familiar feel.
How do crowds of this size impact the athletes?
One theory holds that players will now hear the boos, even via smaller attendance, if they underperform. The 1-3-1 Eagles are heavily scrutinized on social media, especially after losses.
Another view considers this move a crawl-before-you-walk scenario and a wise move back toward normalcy for the NFL.
The league has an advantage of starting later than other major sports that scored their own monumental achievements. Even without fans, the NBA and NHL found neutral sites and bubbles to complete their seasons.
And Major League Baseball is down to its final four teams, with both series playing out within a bubble environment.
The NFL has tried to go one step further, especially in large outdoor stadiums that can enable social distancing, by reintroducing spectators.
Eagles fans and NJ sports betting connection
Live attendance will also strengthen customer loyalty between fans and major sportsbooks.
The Eagles recently announced a multiyear deal with DraftKings as its official daily fantasy sports and sports betting partner.
Whenever full outdoor and indoor capacity is restored, the presence of fans will strengthen these sportsbook partnerships.
NFL teams slowly welcoming back fans
NFL franchises are slowly opening portions of their stadiums for fans.
The Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs drew a crowd of 16,000 for their season opener against the Houston Texans.
The NFL is following a cautious, step-by-step approach to reopening its doors.
And from an Eagles perspective, call it perfect timing.
Besides the Ravens game, tickets are on sale for the NFL Week Seven game against the New York Giants. This one is a Thursday Night Football game.
Eagles season ticket holders who opted in in the 2020 season can purchase as many as six tickets in the same seating pod. Any remaining tickets for the Ravens and Giants games will go on sale to the general public at a later date, as will single-game tickets for the remaining 2020 home games.
Protocols fans attending Eagles-Ravens game
In the COVID-19 era, fans are well aware of substantial day-to-day changes. So fans attending Sunday’s game will likely not be surprised by the protocols being implemented.
Here are some of the items:
- Face coverings required at all times.
- Social distancing of at least 6 feet inside and outside of the stadium.
- Tailgating is prohibited.
- No smoking.
- If you’re feeling sick, stay home.
Of course, there is one major item missing from this list:
Cheer on the Eagles on Sunday at the Linc!