The New England Patriots are making pointspread history just about every week. Their latest feat is opening as 25-point home favorites against the New York Jets.
The largest spread in NFL history is the Baltimore Colts -28 against the expansion Atlanta Falcons in 1966, according to research compiled by The Gold Sheet. The unbeaten Patriots probably will smash that mark next Sunday when they host winless Miami.
The scary thing is the Patriots probably are a bargain against the Jets. The line had settled at -24 on Monday afternoon. The oddsmakers at Las Vegas Sports Consultants thought Las Vegas hotels should open New England -26. Mike Seba, a senior oddsmaker for LVSC, made the number -27.
“I’d much rather be high than low on the Patriots, especially with a revenge motive,” Seba said.
Bill Belichick ran the score up on classy Joe Gibbs. He certainly won’t hold back facing Jets coach Eric Mangini, his former assistant and the man who blew the whistle on Belichick’s practice of stealing signs. The scandal resulted in a $500,000 fine for the New England coach and loss of a No. 1 draft pick.
“Who is going to bet the Jets at any price?” Seba said. “The only thing is bad weather. If the weather is decent the line can only go up.”
The Patriots dominated the Jets opening week, 38-14. That was before Spygate. The media figures to make a big deal of that as a sidebar issue to the matchup. Expect the public to back the Patriots as the week goes on.
Hopefully no Jets player will be as foolish as Pittsburgh defensive back Anthony Smith and predict a victory. Smith’s guarantee didn’t quite work out as well as Joe Namath’s Super Bowl boast. The Patriots beat the Steelers, 34-13, burning Smith twice for long touchdown passes.
“Maybe the Jets should try the opposite approach and guarantee a New England victory,” Seba said.
Miami is on the opposite end. The Dolphins opened +3 ½ hosting Baltimore, a team fresh off a 44-20 home loss to Indianapolis that wasn’t as close as the final score. Seba was prepared to open Baltimore -6 versus the Dolphins until the Ravens’ horrendous showing Sunday night.
The Dolphins, however, have turned in perhaps the two worst performances of the season during the last two weeks, losing 40-13 to the Jets and 38-17 to Buffalo.
“They don’t have the heart anymore,” Seba said of the Dolphins. “They’re a beaten team. They don’t have the players. Now they’re losing all their defensive players, who were the heart of the team.
“If the other team comes to play, the Dolphins have no chance.”
The Ravens may not have much heart or healthy bodies left either following a controversial loss to the Patriots at home two weeks ago and getting blown out by the Colts. The Ravens have only covered two of their 13 games this season.
Detroit is another down team. The Lions have gone from being 6-2 to 6-7. Jon Kitna would have been more accurate if he would have predicted the Lions would lose 10 games rather than win 10. The Lions are 10-point road underdogs to San Diego.
Seba believes that line is short. He made the Chargers -13. LVSC’s send-out number was Chargers -11.
“I would think there is no team more in the dumps right now than Detroit except for Miami,” Seba said.
The LVSC crew is right in line with offshore bookmakers on the Buffalo-Cleveland matchup, recommending Browns -5. The Browns were 5 ½ at most places Monday.
“This is basically a playoff game for the Bills,” Seba said. “You don’t want to get too high on Cleveland because of its defense and possible bad weather. I think 5 or 5 ½ is the right number. Six would be too high.”
The Colts were at -10 ½ on the road against Oakland. The line may be inflated because of the Colts’ recent strong showing on national television against the Ravens and the Raiders getting blown out by Green Bay, 38-7.
“If you make the Colts -9 ½ then they’re going to get bet up to 10, 10 ½ and 11,” Seba said. “We can’t put ourselves in that position. We have to inflate it so we made it 10 ½.”