Bad News For Titans: When Patriots Are Heavy Favorites, They Almost Never Lose

Depending on which sportsbook you prefer, the New England Patriots currently are listed as either 13.5- or 14-point favorites over the Tennessee Titans in this Saturday’s divisional-round playoff matchup.

Obviously, NFL teams favored by that much historically have an extremely high winning percentage. But just how successful has New England been in those situations?

Glad you asked. Since 2000 (aka when Bill Belichick and Tom Brady joined the franchise), the Patriots have been favored by 13 1/2 points or more 33 times, according to Pro Football Reference. They’re 32-1 in those games.

The lone defeat? Week 2 of the 2012 season. The Patriots were 13.5-point favorites at home over Kevin Kolb and the Arizona Cardinals but lost 20-18 after a holding call on Rob Gronkowski negated what would have been a game-winning touchdown by Danny Woodhead and Stephen Gostkowski missed a 42-yard field goal in the final seconds.

When favored by 13 1/2 points or more in the postseason, the Patriots are a perfect 4-0:

2007 divisional round
Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars
Line: -13.5
Result: Patriots win 31-20

2007 AFC Championship Game
Opponent: San Diego Chargers
Line: -14
Result: Patriots win 21-12

2011 divisional round
Opponent: Denver Broncos
Line: -13.5
Result: Patriots win 45-10

2016 divisional round
Opponent: Houston Texans
Line: -16
Result: Patriots win 34-16

(Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants just missed the cut. The Patriots were 12.5-point favorites in that one.)

How many of these games have been legitimately close? Quite a few, actually. Thirteen of the 33 were decided by seven points or fewer, including one this season: New England defeated the Houston Texans 36-33 in Week 3 as 13.5-point favorites.

The Patriots covered the spread in fewer than half of the contests in question (15 of 33), but they’ve done so with much greater frequency in recent years. They covered in seven of the eight games since 2015 that had spreads this large, with the Houston game being the lone exception.

It’s safe to say the Titans won’t have history on their side when they visit Gillette Stadium this Saturday night.

** On a totally unrelated note, research for this story reminded me just how terrifying the Patriots were during their undefeated 2007 regular season. They were favored by 13.5 points 12 times (12!), accounting for more than a third of the games on this list. That team also owns the three largest spreads of the Brady/Belichick era (-20.5 vs. the New York Jets, -22.5 vs. the Miami Dolphins, -24.5 vs. the Philadelphia Eagles) and four of the top five (-18.5 at the Baltimore Ravens). In their three playoff games that season, the Patriots were favored by 13.5, 14 and 12.5 points. Simply incredible. 

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images

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