Somewhere deep in the bowels of his multimillion-dollar mansion built on hubris and hypocrisy, Roger Goodell has a safe. In that safe lives a scroll—probably a 15th-century parchment dusted with gold flakes—on which the NFL commissioner has crafted his Ten Commandments. And somewhere between “thou shalt treat DUI offenders like jaywalkers” and “thou shalt feign concern for player safety at all times” are these two directives: “Thou shalt strive for parity” and “thou shalt keep Las Vegas outta yer mouth.”
And with that, I bring you this: Denver Broncos -27½ vs. Jacksonville Jaguars.
It’s the biggest NFL point spread since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. It’s what everyone in media land—be it locally or nationally, broadcast or print—is chatting about this week. And it’s the reason why the NFL’s czar was seen this week wandering aimlessly around Park Avenue, disheveled with a half-empty bottle of scotch in his hand.
To give you an idea how much hype the 27½-point line is generating, consider this: Five days before kickoff, a story about the spread was a lead item on Yahoo.com, which even had EA Sports simulate the matchup on Madden NFL 25. Additionally, RJ Bell, founder of the sports betting information site Pregame.com, says he received more than two-dozen interview requests to talk Jaguars-Broncos. Ditto Johnny Avello, longtime Las Vegas oddsmaker who runs the book at Wynn Las Vegas.
As for why Avello and his colleagues were forced to make history with this number, well, Jacksonville (0-5 overall, 0-5 against the spread) has lost every game by double digits and has scored 51 points all season. Denver is 5-0 overall, 4-1 ATS, has an average victory margin of just over 18 points per game and scored 51 points just last week in Dallas. Adding to the mismatch factor, this is Jacksonville’s fourth road game in five weeks—and it’s at altitude.
But before you run out and bet the mortgage on the Broncos, know this: With WR Justin Blackmon back, the Jaguars’ listless offense showed signs of life last week, scoring 20 points in St. Louis. Also, Denver has a huge game the following week, when Peyton Manning returns to Indianapolis to face the Colts. Finally, since 1985, NFL teams favored by more than 20 points are 0-7 ATS. So go ahead and give me that ticket on the Jaguars—hell, if I lose, I’ll mail it to Goodell and see if he’ll autograph it.
Lucky Seven: Oklahoma -14 vs. Texas (Best Bet); Washington +14 vs. Oregon; Boston College +25 at Clemson; Jaguars +27½ at Broncos; Seahawks -13½ vs. Titans; Raiders +9 at Chiefs; Chargers +1½ vs. Colts.
Last Week: 3-4 (0-1 Best Bet). Season: 15-23 (10-9 college; 5-14 NFL; 0-5 Best Bets).
Says Scott Spreitzer (@scottwins) of Pregame.com: Lay the points with Oregon. Washington is coming off a physical matchup and somewhat heartbreaking loss to Stanford. Now with banged-up QB Keith Price, the Huskies must attempt to play “keep up” with the high-powered Ducks, who have won nine straight in this series (8-0-1 ATS).
Matt Jacob appears Wednesdays on Pregame.com’s First Preview, which airs 10-11 a.m. weekdays on ESPN Radio 1100-AM.