BOSTON (CBS) — The Patriots were expected to be heavy favorites against the Houston Texans in Saturday’s AFC Divisional Playoff in Foxboro. Bookmakers in Las Vegas have made them one of the biggest favorites in NFL history.
New England opened as a 16-point favorite over Houston on Sunday, making them the biggest favorite of any game in Patriots franchise history and the fourth-largest favorite all-time in the NFL Playoffs. They are the biggest favorite since 1998 when the Minnesota Vikings also opened as 16-point favorites against the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Divisional Playoff. The Vikings won that game 41-21.
The Patriots are just the fourth team in NFL history to be favored by at least 16 points in a playoff game. The other three all won and covered their point spreads. In addition to the Vikings in 1998, the 1994 San Francisco 49ers opened as 17.5-point favorites against the Chicago Bears in the Divisional Playoff and won 44-15. They then opened as 18-point favorites against the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX that same year and won 49-26.
The Patriots beat the Texans 27-0 at Gillette Stadium in Week 3 with third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett starting at quarterback. The Texans defeated the Oakland Raiders in Houston 27-14 on Saturday, but quarterback Brock Osweiler was just 14-for-25 passing for 168 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a touchdown in that game – but even if he can match that effort in Foxboro on Saturday, it likely wouldn’t be enough to keep pace with Tom Brady and the Patriots.
The Texans are 1-6 all-time against the Patriots, including 0-4 at Gillette Stadium. They haven’t beaten the Patriots since Week 17 of the 2009 season. The Patriots simply have their number, which is why the 16-point spread may not be as outlandish as it sounds.
Boomer Esiason looks ahead to NFL’s Divisional Round slate on Toucher & Rich: