If you believe in point spreads, let’s assume that the New England Patriots are heading to the AFC championship game.
The Houston Texans opened as 16-point underdogs in their divisional round game next Saturday at the Patriots. That’s according to Sportsbook.com, via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, and WestGate Las Vegas sportsbook manager Joel Sherman. That seems like an enormous spread for a playoff game, and it is, but it’s not the largest ever.
According to pro-football-reference.com, there have been three playoff games with point spread larger than 16 points, including a Super Bowl:
At the end of the 1998 season the Arizona Cardinals, led by Jake Plummer, upset the Dallas Cowboys in the wild-card round and then were 16.5-point underdogs at the Minnesota Vikings, who went 15-1 with rookie receiver Randy Moss. The Vikings won by 20 in that divisional round win.
In most famous upset in NFL history, the New York Jets were 18-point underdogs in Super Bowl III and beat the Baltimore Colts 16-7.
In the largest spread in NFL playoff history, the San Francisco 49ers were 19-point favorites over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. The 49ers won 49-26.
The Texans’ spread could change before kickoff. Opening lines often move by a few points. Who knows, it could move up to 49ers-Chargers territory by Saturday night. It won’t be easy for anyone to take the Texans and Brock Osweiler against the 14-2 New England Patriots and Tom Brady, even getting 16 points. Also, the Patriots (with rookie Jacoby Brissett at quarterback) beat the Texans 27-0 in Week 3.
No matter where the spread ends up, it’s obvious that the Texans have a huge challenge ahead of them. Maybe they can call Joe Namath to give a pep talk.
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