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Eagles say they are preparing for this Super Bowl officiating crew

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- The Philadelphia Eagles have made it a major point of emphasis to scout referee Gene Steratore and his crew in preparation for Sunday's Super Bowl matchup with the New England Patriots, according to ESPN's Sal Paolantonio.

Players have been shown video cut-ups of their calls, with a focus on pass interference and defensive holding -- especially in the wake of the calls made against the Jaguars that helped the Patriots win the AFC Championship Game.

"We kind of use that to understand what they like to call, know what they are looking for, and pretty much just help us play a cleaner game so we know what to expect from them and they know what to expect from us," said Eagles linebacker Nigel Bradham.

Steratore's regular-season crew called 43 penalties for defensive pass interference, defensive holding or illegal contact -- fifth-highest in the league. Four of the other six on his Super Bowl crew were on regular-season crews that were in the top half of those kinds of penalties.

By studying how Steratore typically calls a game, the Eagles' back seven can get an understanding for how to approach the line without crossing it.

"[We've been studying] just what referees call ... what they throw the flag [on] most often and just how to be aware of not getting a flag, what we can do and what position we can put ourselves in to just not get a flag thrown on us," said rookie cornerback Rasul Douglas. "Definitely, PI and defensive holding. ... We just want to get our head back because the referee lets you play if you're looking at the ball, so we just try not to face-guard as much."

The discrepancy in penalties played a role in the Patriots' 24-20 win over the Jaguars in the AFC title game. The Jaguars had six accepted penalties for 98 yards compared to one penalty for 10 yards for New England.

"There's always a fine line in this game between what's valid and what's not," said linebacker Mychal Kendricks. "But at the end of the day, that's the ref's call. Some of those were questionable; some of them were blatant. Sometimes refs will let you get away with that; sometimes they run a tight game. So we'll have to do the assessing as we go as well."

Steratore led one of the NFL's most active regular-season crews. It averaged 17.1 flags per game, tied for second-most among the 17 crews around the league.

The Eagles and Patriots have both been good about avoiding penalties this postseason. Over two games each, New England has received seven flags, and Philadelphia has totaled eight.

How the teams fare in the penalty department in Super Bowl LII will help decide who hoists the Lombardi Trophy Sunday night.

ESPN's Kevin Seifert contributed to this report.