The New England Patriots are the biggest playoff favorite since 2003. The Pats are 16.5 points favorites over the Houston Texans in the AFC Divisional Round Saturday.
There are only four other playoff games in our database with closing spreads of 13 or more points. How did those favorites perform?
Patriots -13.5 vs. Jaguars (1/12/08)
If you forgot this was a classic game in which Tom Brady completed 26 of 28 passes setting a record for completions percentage in a game. Brady threw the go-ahead touchdown pass after faking as if the ball was directly snapped to running back Kevin Faulk. The Patriots won 31-20 but failed to cover.
Why was the spread so big? The Patriots went 16-0 during the regular season and had beaten opponents by an average of 19.7 points.
Seahawks -13.5 vs. Panthers (1/10/15)
The Seahawks advanced to the NFC Championship Game for the second straight year beating Carolina 31-17. Kam Chancellor returned an interception 90 yards for a touchdown with less than six minutes to play in the fourth quarter. That score put the defending champions up 31-10.
Why was the spread so big? Carolina won its division with a 7-8-1 record.
Patriots -14 vs. Chargers (1/20/08)
Despite failing to cover against the Jags a week earlier, the Patriots closed as even heavier favorites. Tom Brady had a bad game but New England found a way to win. A 21-12 victory sent the Patriots to the title game for the fourth time in seven seasons.
Why was the spread so big? Running back LaDainian Tomlinson had been injured the week before in the Chargers upset of the Colts, Philip Rivers had a torn ligament in his knee and Antonio Gates had a dislocated toe.
Patriots -14 vs. Broncos (1/14/12)
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 8, 2017
Tom Brady threw for six touchdowns, five in the first half and the Patriots routed the Broncos 45-10. The NFL changes quickly, this game featured Tim Tebow and Aaron Hernandez.
Why was the spread so big? Tebow and the Broncos were a .500 team that advanced to the division round with a fluky 80-yard touchdown pass in overtime that upset the Steelers.
These four favorites went a 4-0 straight-up but 2-2 against-the-spread. The Patriots have four of the five biggest playoff spreads in our database. New England went 3-1 straight-up but 1-3 against-the-spread in those games. The one loss was to the Giants in the Super Bowl.
New England should be a heavy favorite against the Texans but history suggests it won’t be an easy cover for Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
New England Patriots vs. Houston Texans
AFC Divisional Playoffs