Jax is where
Eagles dare

Feb 1, 2005 1:32 PM

Say it ain’t so TO.

That’s what Philly die-hard fanatics have been hollering since the Super Bowl betting line opened at New England -6½ and quickly bet up to -7. These screaming lunatics seem to think Terrell Owens’ status should affect the line. So far, no dice.

But I’m here to tell you that, while TO’s status may not move the line, his ability to lace up the cleats and play (healthy or semi-healthy) will have a huge impact on the outcome of this game.

While New England backers may be unmoved by the status of T.O.’s ankle as they continue to pour money into the Pats -7, if I’m a Philly backer I can’t be concerned enough about the status of Owens’ rehab program.

To play or not to play, that is the question? Right now, no one knows the answer. But one of three things will happen regarding the Eagles’ top receiver. Owens either won’t play, he will play and be sub-par or he might play and be the X-factor that lights up the scoreboard.

While the third scenario is unlikely, I believe his presence as a player will be a huge benefit to the Eagles chances. I don’t buy into the distraction theory. You can’t tell me Owens not being a part of the game plan will help the Eagles. Belichick may be able to concentrate on Brian Westbrook and possibly contain him. But, it will be much tougher to accomplish the task with Owens flanked out wide.

I’m not saying Owens is the savior. Philly proved to the world the last two weeks they can win without him. I’m not saying the Eagles can’t win without T.O. on the field. What I’m saying is that he’s such a huge factor, his mere appearance at receiver will allow Philly to showcase more dangerous plays offensively, and give the Pats more to prepare for defensively. I’m betting T.O. will suit up and give it a go.

I’m taking the Philadelphia Eagles plus the points, although I might not need a single point. It wouldn’t shock me if Philly won the game straight-up. In fact, I’m so excited about Philly plus the points my mouth is starting to water. The bet looks like a Philly cheese steak sizzling up on the sports book wall!

I’m so confident that I’m going to make a big wager. Then I’m taking approximately 40 percent of the bet and place it on the money line. With that scenario, I’ll receive a generous payout if Philly simply covers the points. And, I’ll pocket a bundle of cash if Philly wins the game straight up.

I’m going to have a swagger in my walk as I stride up to the betting window, knowing underdogs have won 26 percent of all Super Bowls without the benefit of a single point. We may not need "no stinkin’ points." The Super Bowl doggies have won straight-up twice in the last three years. Three in-a-row for covers.

You have to admit the majority of the media focus has been on Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. And you can’t blame the media for emphasizing coverage on the world champs. The Pats have been in three of the last four Super Bowls. Philly hasn’t been in a Super Bowl since 1980 and has won only a single NFL championship way back in 1960, a little over four decades ago!

But this Eagles club can play! They may not have won 31 of their last 33 games like the Patriots. But Andy Reid, who looks like he hasn’t missed many meals lately, is hungry for a Super Bowl win and knows how tough it is just to be playing in the Super Bowl.

His Eagles went to four straight NFC championships, losing three straight before being invited to the big dance. Reid realizes as well as anyone that it could be many moons before he returns to the grand finale. So one thing you can count on is a no holds barred, barroom fight from Philly. Tough neighborhoods, tough streets, I wouldn’t expect anything less than a tough fight from the Philadelphia boys.

Philly can block and tackle with the best of the NFL. Their record will tell you they lost three games in the regular season. However, in my book the Eagles lost only one regular season game (Week 9 to the Steelers.) I’m throwing out the losses in the final two weeks of the regular season, when Andy Reid wisely rested all of his key starters.

The Eagles’ defense is very stingy. They shut teams down because they’re an extremely smart and disciplined unit. They held Michael Vick to 26 rushing yards. The NFL’s top-rated rushing attack was limited to 99 yards in the NFC title game.

Philly hits as hard as any team in the NFL. McNabb is playing some of the best football of his life. As tough as they are, the Eagles have enough finesse when they need it. McNabb can fire the ball into a small opening with a cannon arm or lay the ball out with touch in the flat. The former Orangeman has all the weapons. The one gun that may win the money in the end is his tremendous speed. I think he’s more dangerous than Vick because he’s more of a threat to throw in the pocket. But if his receivers are covered, watch out for a mad scramble!

Owens will either make the key catch and dangerous run after the catch, or take coverage away from another teammate and open it up for Mitchell, Pinkston or J.L. Lewis. Owens might even be the decoy for the new tight end that was called upon just for the Super Bowl because of the Chad Lewis injury. Surprise, surprise! Now wouldn’t that be a shocker!

Say it could be so T.O! Better yet, prove it!

EAGLES +7