By Matthew Asher
As previously mentioned, nearly every important statistic appears to favor the Seattle Seahawks over the Jacksonville Jaguars this Sunday. On Tuesday the odds makers appeared to agree and currently have the ‘Hawks as a 19.5 point favorite, one of the largest spreads in NFL history. Certainly this was not the homecoming that former Seattle defensive coordinator and newest Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley had in mind.
But historically, how do teams that are favored by so much actually do? If you simply care about the outcome of the game, it’s pretty simple: the favored team, especially when playing at home, wins nearly every time. However, these teams rarely cover the spread. Here are a few notable games with 20-plus point spreads and how they fared.
In December 1976 the Pittsburgh Steelers were a 27-point favorite, the largest in NFL history, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This was the inaugural season for the Buccaneers when they finished 0-14 so of course they lost. However Pittsburgh blew them out 42-0.
This wasn’t the only time the opponents of the winless ‘76 Bucs were favored by more than 20 points. One week after the Steelers blowout, the New England Patriots were 21-point favorites. New England won the game, but didn’t cover the spread winning 31-14.
The Patriots have a history of being on the winning side of these match ups but have issues covering the spread. There are conflicting reports on just how many teams have been favored by at least 20 points – The American Sports Handicapping Network gave the 2007 Patriots two games while R.J Bell of Pregame.com in a report from the LA Times gave them four. A November game against the Philadelphia Eagles had the Patriots favored by 24.5 points. Earlier in the season New England had beaten Buffalo 56-10 and Washington 52-7 so the odds didn’t seem that unusual. However, the Eagles were no pushovers and New England barely won 31-28.
One of the more unusual games with such a huge point spread was in 1987 featuring the San Francisco 49ers favored over the Atlanta Falcons by 23.5 points with San Francisco as the visiting team. The reason this game is considered unusual is 1987 was when there was a strike in the NFL. Just one week of games were cancelled but for the next three weeks teams primarily comprised of backups and formerly cut players were on display. However the 49ers still had Joe Montana, Dwight Clark and Roger Craig all in their starting lineup. San Francisco won 25-17 but couldn’t cover the spread.
Kickoff for the Seahawks vs. Jaguars is scheduled for 1:25 PDT and can be seen on CBS.
For more Seahawks news and updates, visit Seahawks Central.
Matthew Asher is a freelance journalist. From an early age, sports have played a major role in his life. He graduated from Emory University with a B.A. in Journalism. After college he spent 2 years working with CNN Sports and still occasionally writes sports articles for several publications both in the United States and Canada. His work can be found on Examiner.com.