PHILADELPHIA (AP) -Need extra cash for holiday shopping? Take the Patriots and give the points - no matter how large the number.
Bettors putting their money on New England have cashed in so often this season, oddsmakers are forced to inflate the line. This week, they've made the undefeated Patriots more than three touchdown-favorites over the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Glantz-Culver line was 22 on Friday. Several Las Vegas sportsbooks and a few offshore Internet gambling sites listed it at 24. It reached 24 1/2 at the Las Vegas Hilton. If the number stays that high or goes up, it would be the largest known spread for an NFL game.
San Francisco was a 24-point favorite against Cincinnati on Dec. 5, 1993, according to Keith Glantz, co-author of the Glantz-Culver Line. The 49ers won 21-8.
The Patriots are 9-1 against the spread and winning by an average margin of 25.4 points, including nine victories by more than 17 points. They've scored more than 34 points nine times, and their only close game of the season was a 24-20 win in Indianapolis.
Richard Gardner, manager at Costa Rica-based, explained why New England's line gets higher every week.
``It's not so much that the bookmakers don't think the Pats can cover lines over 20 as they've proven all season that they can. The bookmakers are trying to set the line so high that it will scare off a lot of bettors,'' Gardner said. ``Unfortunately, the bettors keep betting on the Patriots regardless of the line and the Patriots are doing their part.''
Even local bookies, including a few in Eagles-crazed South Philly, are keeping this one around 23 or 24. Normally, they shift it 1 1/2-2 points because the hometown action naturally is on the Eagles.
Not this week.
``They love their Eagles, but they ain't stupid,'' said a bookie known as Paulie Walnuts because he bears a striking resemblance to the character on ``The Sopranos'' with that nickname.
Anthony Traverisi, a die-hard Eagles fan with the team's helmet tattooed on his calf, plans to put a large sum on New England. He claimed betting the Patriots paid his mortgage twice since September.
``I'd feel like a traitor if the number was smaller and I bet against the Eagles,'' he said. ``They ain't winning anything this year, so I'm going where the money's at.''
The line opened at 17 1/2 in many places, but went up when Donovan McNabb couldn't practice because of ankle and thumb injuries. McNabb is listed as doubtful, so A.J. Feeley could start at quarterback for Philadelphia (5-5).
``I don't know how all of that works, and I don't care,'' Eagles coach Andy Reid said of the point spread. ``I don't get into all of that. I prepare every week the same. I don't understand it all. We just take care of business here and make sure we prepare ourselves the right way. We don't get into point spreads and all that stuff.''
Players insisted all week that being heavy underdogs doesn't motivate them any more than trying to keep their playoff hopes alive and become the first team to defeat the Patriots.
``If you need fuel right now, being 5-5, going against a team who is 10-0, if you need any more fuel than that, then something is wrong,'' safety Brian Dawkins said. ``If you need some kind of booster cables to jump you, added to that, then something's wrong; you're in the wrong business, you're in the wrong game. I need nothing else right now to get me hyped and excited about this game.''
Halfback Brian Westbrook agreed.
``I'm motivated by the opportunity to go out there and play another football game,'' he said.
Making money motivates the gambling public.

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