With the Pittsburgh Steelers victory over the Miami Dolphins, the Houston Texans are locked into a divisional round showdown against the New England Patriots. The oddsmakers clearly do not like their chances.
According to a report from Chris Chase of Fox Sports, the Patriots open the week as 16-point favorites. Should that line hold, New England will be the third-largest favorite in NFL postseason history.
The only games with a more lopsided spread were as follows.
- Super Bowl XXIX: San Francisco 49ers (-19) vs. San Diego Chargers
- Super Bowl III: Baltimore Colts (-18) vs. New York Jets
In the 1994 divisional round, the 49ers had a similar -15.5 spread against the Chicago Bears. A 1998 divisional round matchup between Minnesota and Arizona had the Vikings as 16-point favorites.
Bill O’Brien and the Texans should be doing everything possible to channel what the Jets did against the Colts. The other four favorites not only won, but covered.
San Francisco defeated San Diego 49-26, Minnesota routed Arizona 41-21, and the 49ers crushed the Bears 44-15.
The spread may seem large, but it’s not terribly surprising.
Houston won its game on Wild Card weekend, but was far from overwhelming against a depleted Oakland Raiders team.
Additionally, the Patriots have been to five straight AFC Championship Games, winning the divisional round at home each time. New England won those five games by an average of exactly 16 points. In that five-year stretch, the only AFC opponents to beat the Patriots in any round of the playoffs were the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos. Neither team qualified for the postseason.
As if all of that wasn’t enough, the Patriots and Texans met earlier this season in Foxborough. Without Tom Brady or even Jimmy Garoppolo, New England pounded Houston 27-0.
So, even if 16 points feels like a big number, it’s awfully hard to argue with.