Depending on how you’re feeling, this might be a time NOT to bet on the New England Patriots.
The AFC East juggernaut, even before adding controversial superstar Antonio Brown, rolled to a 33-3 shellacking of the receiver’s former employers from Pittsburgh in Week 1’s Sunday conclusion. Carnage may reign once more in Week 2, as the Patriots are set to play a hapless Miami Dolphins squad that takes rebuilding to a whole new level. Miami was demolished to the tune of a 59-10 yawner in Sout Beach that sent fans and players alike streaking toward the exits.
As such, the Patriots are 18.5-point favorites entering next Sunday afternoon’s meeting. It’s just the fourth time in NFL history that a road team is favored by three possessions (-17).
How did those other heavily favored visitors fare?
1987: San Francisco (-23.0) @ Atlanta
The largest road favorite in NFL history, the 49ers seemed well on their way to a victory when they jumped out to a 20-0 lead on the Falcons. With the 1987 NFLPA strike in full swing, several San Francisco stars, including Joe Montana crossed picket lines to partake. Replacement players played a majority of the latter stages, including on the 49er side. Falcon subs were able to keep the score respectable, falling 25-17. Montana played only in the first half before being replaced by Bob Gagliano.
1992: San Francisco (-17.5) @ New England
It’s hard to envision a time when the Patriots were on the wrong side of games such as these, but that was the case in the early 90s. The 49ers’ dynasty days were behind them, but they were still expected to thump an 0-5 Patriots squad mired in a rebuild at the turn of the decade. Perhaps a sign of things to come in the new century, the Patriots instead silenced doubters with a valiant effort, even taking a 12-10 lead in the third quarter. Two Ricky Watters touchdowns restored normalcy in the fourth quarter, allowing San Francisco to coast, but not cover, in a 24-12 win.
2007: New England (-18.5) @ Baltimore
The regular season dominance of the 2007 Patriots created some obscene spreads as the season went on. They may have been perfect in the standings but were only 10-6 against the spread. A Monday night visit to a 4-7 Ravens team created a line that will match itself in Miami in 2019. Baltimore not only covered, but they also gave the perfect Patriots their toughest regular season challenge. The Ravens, in fact, led in the final minute of the fourth quarter, but typical Tom Brady heroics found Jabar Gaffney for an eight-yard score with 44 seconds to go.
Three yards wound up denying the Ravens a win. A Kyle Boller desperation heave as time expired was caught by Mark Clayton, but Eric Alexander stopped him before he could reach the end zone to help New England escape with a 27-24 win.