If the Patriots are going to cover the spread against the Jets this week, they're going to have to turn the game into a rout because oddsmakers have hit New England with the largest point spread in three years.
The Patriots have officially opened as a 16.5 point favorite over the Jets, which is the highest point spread of the season, and the highest point spread in any NFL game since October 2013, when the Broncos closed as a 26.5 point favorite over the Jaguars.
This is the kind of point spread you get when Vegas keeps losing money on a team, and they keep losing money on the Patriots.
New England is 11-3 against the spread this year, making them the safest NFL bet of 2016. Of course, the ugliness of the Jets season also plays into the large point spread. Their starting quarterback ( Bryce Petty) is banged up and their backup quarterback (Ryan Fitzpatrick) throws interceptions like it's his job.
Betting a spread this big is never easy, however, history seems to favor the underdog. According to Pro Football Reference, in the past 20 instances where a team has been favored by 16 or more points, the underdog has gone 14-5-1 against the spread.
The Jaguars of 2013 were one of the teams that ended up covering. As a 26.5 point underdog, the Jags ended up losing by "just" 16 (35-19).
The Jets-Patriots game will mark the ninth time in the Brady-Belichick era that the Patriots have been favored by 16 or more points. In those nine games, the Patriots are 9-0 straight-up, but just 3-6 against the spread.
If there is one sure bet here, it's betting on the Patriots to win. Since 1990, there have been 59 teams that have been favored by 16 or more points and those teams have gone 56-3 straight-up. The last time a team lost in this scenario came in 1995 when the 17-point underdog Redskins beat the Cowboys 24-17.
If you take out the Patriots game, the next biggest spread in Week 16 is just 7.5 points.
Let's get to the odds.
NFL Week 16 early odds
(All lines via VegasInsider.com, all games on Saturday unless noted)
- Opening line: Giants, -3 points
- Current line: Giants, -3 points
With a win over the Eagles on Thursday, the Giants will clinch their first playoff spot since 2011. However, beating Philly won't be easy. The Giants have lost four of their past five to the Eagles and are just 1-3 in their past four trips to Philadelphia. These two teams met back in Week 9 with the Giants winning 28-23 in game where they were also favored by three points. When it comes to covering the spread, the Eagles have struggled against divisional opponents, going just 3-7 since the beginning of 2015, which is tied with Carolina as the worst mark in the NFC over that span.
Redskins (7-5-1) at Bears (3-11)
- Opening line: Redskins, -4 points
- Current line: Redskins, -3.5 points
Somehow, Matt Barkley has become the safest bet in the NFL. In Barkley's three starts this season, the Bears are 3-0 ATS (1-2 straight-up), which isn't even the most impressive thing about Chicago. The most impressive thing is that the Bears have covered five games in a row. In this game, they'll be getting a Redskins team that has to fly halfway across the country after a Monday night game, which is notable because Washington only has four days between games since this is being played on Saturday. Before you go betting the Bears though, just keep in mind that they're 0-6 straight-up in their past six meetings against the Redskins and haven't beaten them since 2003.
- Opening line: Bills, -3.5 points
- Current line: Bills, -3.5 points
After a warm-up game against the horrible Jets, new Dolphins starting quarterback Matt Moore will get a tougher test this week when Miami travels to a place where not even Ryan Tannehill has ever won: Buffalo. The Bills have won five of the past seven in this series, including the past four in Buffalo. The Dolphins did win and cover 2.5 point spread with a 28-25 win in Week 7, but that was in South Florida. Miami is 3-1 ATS in divisional games this year, which is the second best mark in the AFC. The Bills are 1-3 ATS in divisional games, which is one of the worst marks in the NFL.
Buccaneers (8-6) at Saints (6-8)
- Opening line: Saints, -3.5 points
- Current line: Saints, -3.5 points
These two teams just met on Dec. 11, so they should be pretty familiar with each other. In that game, the Bucs defense absolutely shut down Drew Brees in a 16-11 win where Tampa covered (-2 points). The Bucs have been one of the hottest teams in football over the past six weeks, going 5-1 straight-up and an even better 6-0 ATS. The Bucs won't be afraid of the Superdome, either, because they won there last season (26-19). Although the Saints have been inconsistent this season, they have been pretty consistent in divisional games over the past two years. Since the beginning of 2015, New Orleans is 7-3 ATS in divisional games, which is the second best mark in the NFC over that span.
- Opening line: Falcons, -3.5 points
- Current line: Falcons, -3.5 points
The Falcons have exploded for more than 40 points in each of the past two weeks, and they've done that without Julio Jones in the lineup. There's a chance that Jones could be back for this game, which would make Atlanta's offense even more lethal. With Jones in the lineup, the Falcons dropped 48 on the Panthers back in a Week 4 win (48-33) where Atlanta was a two-point underdog. Although the Falcons have won two in a row against the Panthers, they've lost three of their past four in Charlotte. Since the beginning of 2015, the Panthers are just 3-7 ATS in divisional games, which is the second worst mark in the NFC over the span.
- Opening line: Packers, -6.5 points
- Current line: Packers, -7 points
The Packers haven't been great this season ATS (7-6-1), but they have been pretty good when they're a heavy favorite. In five games this season where the Packers have been a favorite of six or more points, they're 3-1-1 ATS and 4-1 straight-up. If you're thinking about betting the Vikings, do so at your own risk: Minnesota is 2-7 ATS in their past nine games. On the other hand, the Vikings have done a good job of covering as a road underdog recently. Since the beginning of 2015, Minnesota is 7-2 as a road dog, which is the third best mark in the NFL over that span. When these two teams played in Week 2, the 1.5 point favorite Packers lost 17-14.
Jets (4-10) at Patriots (12-2)
- Opening line: Patriots, -16.5 points
- Current line: Patriots, -16.5 points
If this line holds, then we'll be getting our biggest spread of the year on Saturday with the Patriots favored by a ridiculous 16.5 points. Of course, a lot of that has to do with the fact that New York will either be starting Bryce Petty or turnover machine Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. Petty got hurt in Week 15, and if he can't go on Saturday, then Fitzpatrick will start. Although the Patriots have won four of the past five in this series, all four of those wins were by seven or fewer points. That total includes a Week 12 win where the Patriots were an 8.5 point favorite and only won 22-17. Of course, if anyone can cover this, it's the Patriots. New England is an NFL-best 11-3 ATS on the season.
Titans (8-6) at Jaguars (2-12)
- Opening line: Titans, -4 points
- Current line: Titans, -4.5 points
If you're a believer that teams play well after their coach gets fired, then the Jags are the team for you in this game. Following Sunday's loss to the Texans, Jacksonville decided to dump coach Gus Bradley. This game marks just the second time since 2014 that Tennessee has been a road favorite, and they didn't cover the last time. However, the Titans have won two in a row against the Jaguars, including a 36-22 win in Week 8 where Tennessee covered as a three-point favorite. The Jaguars have one of the worst run defenses in the NFL (ranked 23rd overall), which means they could have a tough time slowing down Tennessee's third-ranked rushing offense.
- Opening line: Chargers, -6.5 points
- Current line: Chargers, -6 points
With a West Coast team traveling to the Eastern Time Zone for an early kickoff, this game might be the Browns' best chance at picking up their first win of the season. However, we probably shouldn't count on that because this is the Browns we're talking about. In their past eight games, not only are the Browns 0-8 straight-up, they're also 0-8 ATS. Wait, it gets worse: The Browns have lost their past six games by an average of 18 points. Also, the Browns are an NFL-worst 2-12 ATS this year. Even the Lions went 7-9 ATS during their 0-16 year of 2008. If anyone can play a close game with the Browns though, it's the Chargers. Eleven of San Diego's past 12 games have been decided by one score.
- Opening line: Raiders, -3.5 points
- Current line: Raiders, -4 points
The Raiders will be hosting a desperate Indianapolis team on Saturday: If the Colts lose, they'll be eliminated from playoff contention. Although the Colts are a road underdog in this game, that's not necessarily a bad thing because they seem to thrive in that situation. The Colts are 4-1-1 ATS and 4-2 straight-up in games where they're a road underdog this season. As for the Raiders they've struggled to cover as home favorites, going 2-3 ATS (and 7-2 ATS in all other games). The Raiders have lost four straight overall to the Colts and haven't beaten them in Oakland since 1995.
49ers (1-13) at Rams (4-10)
- Opening line: Rams, -3 points
- Current line: Rams, -3 points
The 49ers have only won one game this season, and that came back in Week 1 in a 28-0 rout of the Rams. Since then, the 49ers have gone 0-13 straight-up and an ugly 1-11-1 ATS. Things have also been pretty ugly for the Rams lately. First, they're in the midst of a five-game losing streak where they've also managed to go 0-5 ATS. Second, they're being led by an interim coach (John Fassel). And third, the Rams don't even know who their quarterback will be in this game. Jared Goff is in concussion protocol, and if he can't go, then Case Keenum will get the start.
- Opening line: Seahawks, -6.5 points
- Current line: Seahawks, -7.5 points
The last time we saw these two teams together, they played to an ugly 6-6 tie back in October, a game the Seahawks actually covered because they were a 2.5 point underdog. That tie actually started an ugly streak for the Cardinals. Including that Week 7 game Arizona is just 2-5-1 straight-up and 1-7 ATS since then. As for the Seahawks, they're 7-0 straight-up at home this season and 5-2 ATS. The Seahawks are the only team in the NFL that's undefeated at home this year.
Bengals (5-8-1) at Texans (8-6)
- Opening line: Texans, -3.5 points
- Current line: Texans, -2.5 points
There's only one quarterback controversy in Texas, and it's not in Dallas. The Texans benched Brock Osweiler on Sunday, and judging by the way that Tom Savage played, there's a good chance Osweiler won't be getting his job back. However, that's not official. Texans coach Bill O'Brien is expected to make an announcement this week. Of course, it might not matter the quarterback is: including the postseason, the Texans have won six of the past seven games in this series, a total that includes a 10-6 win in 2015. When it comes to the spread, both of these teams have been ugly bets lately. The Texans are just 1-4 ATS over their past five games while the Bengals are 2-5 ATS in their past seven.
- Opening line: Steelers, -3.5 points
- Current line: Steelers, -4.5 points
If the Steelers want to clinch the AFC North this week, they're going to have to do something they haven't been able to do recently: Beat the Ravens. Including the playoffs, the Steelers have lost four straight to Baltimore and are just 3-9 in their past 12 games against the Ravens. That total includes a 21-14 Steelers' loss in Week 9 where Pittsburgh was a 3.5 points favorite. Those struggles aside, the Steelers have been one of the hottest teams in the NFL lately. The Steelers are currently on a five-game winning streak that includes a 5-0 mark ATS. As for the Ravens, they're 4-0 ATS in divisional games this year, which is the best mark in the NFL.
Broncos (8-6) at Chiefs (10-4), Sunday
- Opening line: Chiefs, -3.5 points
- Current line: Chiefs, -4 points
The last time these two teams met, the 3.5 point underdog Chiefs won a wild one and escaped Denver with a 30-27 win in overtime. Overall, the Chiefs have won two straight games against Denver, marking the first time since 2000 that Kansas City has beaten the Broncos in consecutive games. The Chiefs are coming off a loss, which we're only noting because the Chiefs have been unstoppable coming off a loss. So far this year, the Chiefs are 3-0 both straight-up and ATS after a loss. As for the Broncos, they're in the middle of a meltdown: After starting the season 7-3, they're 1-3 both straight-up and ATS in their past four games.
Lions (9-5) at Cowboys (12-2), Monday
- Opening line: Cowboys, -7 points
- Current line: Cowboys, -7 points
The last time these two teams met was in January 2015 when the Cowboys won a wild 24-20 playoff game over the Lions. This time around, it's not do-or-die, but it might feel that way for the Lions. if Detroit loses on Monday, that will force them into a winner-take-all showdown with the Packers in Week 17. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford is still playing with an injured middle finger on his throwing hand, which seems to be giving him trouble.
Matthew Stafford's passer rating was 100.5 at the time he dislocated his finger in Week 14. Since then, it is 64.6. pic.twitter.com/vqhbIiNbn2— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) December 18, 2016
The Lions are 1-1 straight-up and 0-2 ATS since the injury. As for the Cowboys, they've been a risky bet lately, going 0-4 ATS in their past four games. Before that streak started, Dallas was 9-1 ATS on the season. The Cowboys are 3-0 straight-up against the NFC North this season, winning those games by an average of 10 points.