Patriots among biggest playoff favorites of past 40 years

The New England Patriots are the biggest playoff favorites since 1998.

The Patriots opened as 14.5-point favorites against the Houston Texans in Saturday's AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium.

The line quickly grew to New England -16 shortly after being posted Sunday afternoon at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, making it one of the four largest playoff point spreads in the past 40 seasons.

The dynamic 1998 Minnesota Vikings were 16-point favorites over the Arizona Cardinals in the divisional round of the playoffs. In the 1994 postseason, Steve Young's San Francisco 49ers were 17.5-point favorites over the Chicago Bears in the divisional round and then 18-point favorites over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX.

Going back further, the Baltimore Colts lost to Joe Namath's New York Jets as 18-point favorites in Super Bowl III.

This year's Patriots might surpass them all. New England was already up to a 17-point favorite Sunday night at MGM's sportsbooks.

The Patriots were listed as -1,800 favorites to win the game straight up at William Hill's Nevada sportsbook, meaning you'd need to risk $1,800 to win $100 on a New England victory. It was worthwhile for one bettor, who on Sunday put $1,226.80 on the Patriots to beat the Texans straight up for a chance at a $68.15 profit, according to William Hill.

It's hard to blame anyone who believes coach Bill Belichick's team is worth the risk this week. The Patriots pummeled the Texans 27-0 in Week 3, with rookie quarterback Jacoby Brissett under center.Tom Brady is expected to be New England's starter Saturday.

"We've taken almost $19,000 on New England," Jason Simbal, vice president of risk at sportsbook operator CG Technology, said Sunday night. "And $196 on Houston."

Updated Super Bowl odds (courtesy of Westgate SuperBook)

Patriots 3-2

Cowboys 9-2

Falcons 6-1

Chiefs 8-1

Steelers 8-1

Seahawks 10-1

Packers 10-1

Texans 40-1

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