From 2001 to 2019, the Patriots absolutely dominated the AFC East, winning the division 17 out of 19 times. During that span, the Patriots went more than 19 years without ever being an underdog of at least six points to a divisional opponent, which we're only mentioning because that streak is going to end this week.
In the early odds for Week 16, the Bills have opened as a 6.5-point favorite over the Patriots. This game marks the first time since Oct. 21, 2001 that the Patriots have been an underdog by six or more points to a team from the AFC East. In a twist though, that team isn't even in the AFC East anymore: It was the Colts who were favored and the Patriots were a 10.5-point underdog in the game. In another twist, the Patriots actually ended up pulling off the upset in a game that marked just the fourth start of Tom Brady's career.
If we take the Colts out and only count the current members of the AFC East, the last time the Patriots were an underdog of six or more points came on Oct. 7, 2001. Nineteen years ago, the Dolphins were favored by 9.5 points over New England in a game that Miami would win 30-10.
Under Bill Belichick, the Patriots are 9-4 against the spread (ATS) all time when they're an underdog of six or more and they're also 6-7 straight up in those games. Basically, no one is better than Belichick at pulling off upsets as a big underdog.
With that in mind, let's check out the rest of the opening point spreads for Week 16. If you'd rather hear us talk about the opening point spreads, you can also do that in the podcast below that features me (John Breech) along with Will Brinson.
Alright, now let's actually get to the early odds.
NFL Week 16 early odds
(All lines from William Hill Sportsbook unless noted, all games on Sunday unless noted)
Minnesota (6-8) at New Orleans (10-4), Friday
Opening line: Saints -7.5
If you're betting on the Vikings, you're probably going to need a Christmas miracle for them to cover and that's because they've been terrible over the past few weeks. Since Week 11, the Vikings have gone 0-5 ATS. That being said, the Vikings are 5-2 ATS in the past seven games where they've been an underdog of a touchdown or more (0-7 straight up). As for the Saints, they're just 1-4 in the past five games where they've been favored by seven or more, including 0-2 this season.
Tampa Bay (9-5) at Detroit (5-9), Saturday
Opening line: Buccaneers -8
In the past nine games where the Lions have been a home underdog, they've gone 0-9 straight up and 3-6 ATS. Actually, forget the underdog thing, because the Lions have been pretty bad at home no matter the circumstance. In their past 10 home games, the Lions are 1-9 straight up and 4-6 ATS. As for the Buccaneers, they're 7-1 straight up and 6-2 ATS in their past eight games as a road favorite.
San Francisco (5-9) at Arizona (8-6), Saturday
Opening line: Cardinals -3.5
If there's one team you want to stay away from, it's probably the 49ers and that's because they're in a total free fall right now. In their past seven games, the 49ers have gone 1-6 both straight up and ATS. The 49ers have almost been just as bad against the Cardinals, going 1-5 ATS in the past six meetings between these two teams (2-4 straight up). When these two teams met back in Week 1, the Cardinals won 24-20 as a seven-point underdog.
Miami (9-5) at Las Vegas (7-7), Saturday
Opening line: Dolphins -2.5
The Raiders have failed to cover the spread in four straight games, which is tied for the third-longest active non-covering streak in the NFL right now (The Chiefs have the longest streak at six). As for the Dolphins, if you've been betting on them this season then you've made a lot of money and that's because they're 11-3 ATS, which is the best mark in the NFL this year.
Atlanta (4-10) at Kansas City (13-1)
Opening line: Chiefs -11.5
This game is being played in Kansas City, which is notable, because since the start of the 2017 season, the Falcons are 0-7 ATS and 1-6 straight up in road games against AFC teams. Although that record is pretty ugly, betting on the Chiefs might not be the best idea and that's because they've failed to cover in six straight games (0-5-1). They've also failed to cover in the past two games where they've been favored by double digits.
Cleveland (10-4) at N.Y. Jets (1-13)
Opening line: Browns -10
This is the eighth time since the beginning of the 2019 season that the Browns have been a road favorite and if the previous seven games are any indication, you probably don't want to bet on them. In the previous seven games, the Browns went 1-6 ATS and 3-4 straight up. That being said, one of those wins did come on Sunday against the Giants in the same stadium that they'll be playing in this week. As for the Jets, they might have won on Sunday, but they're still winless at home this year (0-7 straight up, 3-4 ATS). The Jets are 5-9 ATS on the season, which is tied for the second-worst mark in the NFL.
Indianapolis (10-4) at Pittsburgh (11-2)
Opening line: Steelers -2.5
This game will mark just the second time this year that the Colts have been an underdog and if the first game was any indication -- a 32-23 loss to the Browns -- you might want to bet against Indy. The Colts have actually lost six straight games as an underdog and they haven't been much better against the spread, going 1-4-1 ATS in those losses. That being said, the Colts are 5-1 ATS in their past six games overall. As for the Steelers, if they don't cover against the Bengals on Monday night, that will mean they've gone four straight games without covering.
Carolina (4-10) at Washington (6-8)
Opening line: Football Team -2
When it comers to covering the spread, Washington has actually been one of the hottest teams in the NFL as they've covered in five straight games, which is the second-longest active streak in the league. Washington is also 9-5 ATS on the season, which is the second-best mark in the NFL. As for the Panthers, they're 8-4 ATS in their past 12 games, which includes covering as an 8.5-point underdog to the Packers in Week 15.
Chicago (7-7) at Jacksonville (1-13)
Opening line: Bears -7
Dating back to Week 3, the Jaguars have been one of the worst teams in the NFL. Not only are they 0-11 straight up, but they're also 4-7 ATS in that span. They're also an ugly 5-18 ATS against NFC teams since the start of the 2015 season and an even uglier 3-20 straight up. Of course, if there's one team that's worse at playing the opposite conference, it might be the Bears, who are 1-6 ATS and 2-5 straight up against the AFC since the start of the 2019 season. If you're thinking about betting the Bears, then you'll like the fact that they've won and covered in the past three games where they've been favored by a touchdown or more.
N.Y. Giants (5-9) at Baltimore (9-5)
Opening line: Ravens -10
There are a lot of reasons to like Baltimore in this game and one of them is that they've covered in four straight games. Also, it's probably worth mentioning that Lamar Jackson has NEVER lost a start to an NFC team. In nine career starts against NFC teams, Jackson has gone 9-0 straight up (but just 4-5 ATS). On the Giants' end, they're 9-1 ATS in the past 10 games where they've been an underdog of 10 points or more (3-7 straight up). One of those straight-up wins actually came this year when the Giants beat the Seahawks as an 11-point underdog back in Week 13.
Cincinnati (2-10-1) at Houston (4-10)
Opening line: Texans -9
You probably don't want to bet on an upset in this game and that's because the Bengals are winless in their last 20 games away from Cincinnati (0-19-1 straight up). That being said, they have done a good job of covering during that streak, going 11-9 ATS. However, they're just 1-4 ATS in their past five road games. As for the Texans, they're 5-9 ATS on the year, which is tied for the second-worst mark in the NFL. They've also failed to cover in three straight games.
Denver (5-9) at L.A. Chargers (5-9)
Opening line: Chargers -3
Although the Chargers beat the Raiders in Week 15, that doesn't erase fact that they're almost always a bad team to bet on when they're playing in a divisional game. Since the start of the 2019 season, the Chargers are 1-9 straight up and 2-7-1 ATS against AFC West opponents. In the past five games played between these two teams, the Chargers have gone 1-4 both straight up and ATS against Denver.
Philadelphia (4-9-1) at Dallas (5-9)
Opening line: Pick'em
Not only have the Eagles won and covered two straight games in this series, but in both of those games, the Cowboys didn't even score 10 points. If the Cowboys end up favored in this game, that might not be great news for them and that's because they're 2-9 ATS in the past 11 games where they've been favored (4-7 straight up). The Cowboys are also 4-10 ATS on the season, which is the worst mark of any team in the NFL. Of course, the Eagles aren't much better as they're 5-9 ATS, which is tied for the second-worst mark.
L.A. Rams (9-5) at Seattle (10-4)
Opening line: Seahawks -3
If there's one team the Seahawks haven't been able to figure out over the past few years, it's the Los Angeles Rams. In the past six meetings between these two teams, the Rams have gone 5-1 straight up and a big reason that's happened is because they've been able to pile up points on Seattle's defense. In those six games, the Rams have averaged 31.8 per game and this will be the worst Seahawks' defense L.A. has faced in that span. The Rams have also covered three straight times in this series, including back in Week 10 when they beat the Seahawks 23-16 as a three-point favorite.
Tennessee (10-4) at Green Bay (11-3)
Opening line: Packers -4.5
If there's one guy you don't want to bet against in a December home game, it's Aaron Rodgers. Since the start of the 2009 season, Rodgers is 20-2 straight up in December games played at Lambeau Field and 17-5 ATS. As for the Titans, they're 3-0 straight up against NFC North teams this year and they've averaged 33.7 points in those three games. On the other hand, the Titans are just 1-4 ATS in their past five prime-time games.
Buffalo (11-3) at New England (6-8), Monday
Opening line: Bills -6.5
The Bills have covered in six straight games, which is the longest active streak in the NFL. Although that makes them feel like a good bet, it should be worth noting that they always seem to struggle against the Patriots. They didn't cover earlier this season as a four-point favorite in a 24-21 win. Since hiring Sean McDermott in 2017, the Bills have gone 1-6 straight up against the Patriots and 2-4-1 ATS. Josh Allen has also struggled, going 1-3 straight up. The Bills are 9-5 ATS on the season, which is tied for the second-best mark in the NFL.