HOUSTON TEXANS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (-15.5, O/U 44.5), Sat., 8:15 p.m. ET
When the Patriots opened as whopping 16-point favorites for Saturday night's game versus Houston, it marked the highest spread in the Divisional Round in nearly two decades. It's also the most New England has ever been favored by in the Playoffs.
The line is not crazy.
New England whipped Houston 27-0 behind third-string QB Jacoby Brissett in Week 3; the Pats went 13-3 against the spread this season; and they outscored the Jets and Dolphins 76-14 over the last two weeks.
There have only beeen three bigger postseason favorites in the past 30 years, and all three covered:
1998 Divisional Playoffs: Vikings (-16.5) beat Cardinals 41-21
1994 Divisional Playoffs: 49ers (-17) beat Bears 44-15
Super Bowl XXIX following '94 season: 49ers (-18) beat Chargers 49-26
The hope for Texans' backers is that their top-ranked defense -- which allows just 193.3 passing yards per game -- can slow Tom Brady enough to stay within the spread. Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus (15.5 combined sacks) must be disruptive forces.
But it's hard to see Brady doing anything but excelling. He threw 28 TDs and two INTs after returning from suspension, and he'll have Danny Amendola and Michael Floyd to boost the receiving corps led by Julian Edelman.
New England also led the league in scoring defense (15.6).
To relieve the pressure on Brock Osweiler, Lamar Miller must be more effective. In his past two starts, he's failed to average 3.0 yards per carry.
Nearly 74 percent of the bets are on New England, per SportsInsights, and no wonder: the Pats covered 13 of 16 regular-season games.
But professionals are showing interest in the dog. At BookMaker.eu, 65 percent of the handle is on Houston.
"The historic 16-point opener was quickly bet down [by professionals]," said Scott Cooley, BookMaker's odds consultant. "The public has had no qualms laying the chalk with New England."
Houston is 2-6 ATS in its last eight road games and 1-5-1 ATS in the past seven meetings with New England.
The Patriots are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games vs. winning teams, and 9-2-1 ATS in their last 12 after scoring more than 30 points in their previous game.
The Over is 6-0-1 in New England's last seven divisional playoff games. The Under is 12-5-1 in Houston's last 18 games against winning teams.
NFL guru R.J. White has a strong play on this game. Get all SportsLine expert picks on Patriots-Texans.