Because the Patriots are the Patriots and the Texans are perceived to be all defense and zero offense, there wasn’t much in the way of shock when the point spread for Saturday’s AFC second-round game in Foxborough was unveiled over the weekend: New England opened as a 14.5-point favorite and quickly grew to a 16-point favorite at most books (at the MGM, the Pats are giving 17 points). And barring some strange things happening over the course of this week, the Patriots will be one of the biggest gambling favorites in NFL postseason history, as there have been just three favorites of at least 16 points in the postseason since 1966 (as tabulated by Pro Football Reference):
— Colts (-18) vs. Jets in Super Bowl III, 1969. Jets covered, famously.
— 49ers (-19) Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX, 1995. 49ers covered, easily.
— Vikings (-16.5) vs. Cardinals in the second round of the 1998-99 playoffs. Minnesota won by 20.
This season, there was only one regular season game featuring a point spread so large and it also involved the Patriots: New England stomped the Jets, 41-3, as a 17-point favorite on Christmas Eve. Since 2000, however, NFL favorites of at least 16 points have gone just 12-22-2 against the number.
A Texans outright win would be one of the biggest upsets in NFL history, at least in terms of the point spread. Only six underdogs of at least 16 points have scored straight-up wins going back to the 1968 season:
— Jan. 12, 1969: The Jets beat the Colts, 16-7, as 18-point underdogs in Super Bowl III
— Sept. 18, 1978: The Colts beat the Patriots, 34-27, as 17.5-point underdogs.
— Sept. 29, 1985: The Saints beat the 49ers, 20-17, as 16-point underdogs.
— Nov. 29, 1992: The Colts beat the Bills, 16-13 in overtime, as 16.5-point underdogs.
— Dec. 6, 1992: The Jets beat the Bills, 24-17, as 17-point underdogs.
— Dec. 3, 1995: The Redskins beat the Cowboys, 24-17, as 17-point underdogs.
As of Monday morning the Texans were +917 on the moneyline, meaning one would win $917 on a $100 bet should Houston score the upset. Conversely, the Patriots were -1233, meaning a gambler would have to wager $1,233 to win $100 with a New England victory.
It’s probably worth mentioning that the Patriots already scored a 27-0 win over the Texans in Week 3 this season, with Tom Brady still suspended and Jacoby Brissett playing quarterback.