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It seems almost impossible that any player could get overlooked amid the overload of Super Bowl hype, but that might be the case with Philadelphia Eagles middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter.
The spotlight has been fixed on the quarterbacks and the daily injury updates on Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens leading up to Sunday’s game at Jacksonville, Fla.
After almost two weeks of wagering, the New England Patriots remain 7-point favorites over Philadelphia. The total is fluctuating between 47 1/2 and 48.
“As it gets closer to kickoff, it wouldn’t surprise me to see this total reach 49,” handicapper Jamie Tursini said. “Obviously, the public loves to bet the over, especially in the Super Bowl.”
But Tursini said the defenses deserve more of an emphasis in the game, with a big key probably being Trotter’s ability to contain Patriots running back Corey Dillon.
Tursini, 4-0 on his NFL totals plays in the Review-Journal this season, said the game will be played at a slower pace than expected. He recommends a bet under the total of 48.
Early in the season, the Eagles’ weakness was a flimsy run defense. But after a 27-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Nov. 7, a game in which the Steelers rushed for 252 yards, defensive coordinator Jim Johnson shifted Trotter to the middle.
In Trotter’s eight starts — including the playoffs and excluding Philadelphia’s final two meaningless regular-season games — the defense has allowed only 3.5 yards per carry and 11.8 points per game.
Trotter, one of four Eagles defenders headed to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl, has a reputation as one of the league’s best run stoppers. He has 15 tackles and one interception in two playoff games.
“The Eagles’ defense has been underrated all year,” said Tursini (pointspreadservice. com). “The most telling story is that since Trotter became the starter in the middle, their run defense got much tougher.”
Philadelphia went under the total in 13 of 18 games this season, and now the Eagles are squaring off against a New England defense allowing an average of 15 points in two playoff games.
Both defenses finished the regular season tied for second in the league in fewest points allowed, and neither offense has committed a turnover in the playoffs.
Tursini said the Patriots’ 3-4 defense will cause problems for quarterback Donovan McNabb and the Eagles. In games against Baltimore and Pittsburgh, who employ the 3-4 alignment, Philadelphia was held to a total of 18 points. More about Agen Poker Online
New England defensive end Richard Seymour is expected to return from a knee injury. Despite a depleted secondary missing both starting cornerbacks, the Patriots have plenty of playmakers, including linebackers Tedy Bruschi and Willie McGinest and safety Rodney Harrison.
The Eagles are without injured tight end Chad Lewis, and how effective Owens will be on a bad ankle is a mystery.
Tursini produces power ratings for totals. His number for this game is 41, and he said, “We have a 7-point difference here and that’s too much to overlook.”