NEW YORK — The unbeaten Denver Broncos are listed as 28-point favorites against the winless Jacksonville Jaguars for their Week 6 matchup, potentially the biggest spread in National Football League history.
The Broncos (5-0) are averaging an NFL-high 46 points a game this season and quarterback Peyton Manning has set a record with 20 touchdown passes through five games. The Jaguars are scoring a league-low 10.2 points a game and have surrendered 163 points, the second-most in the NFL.
The disparity between the teams and the Broncos' popularity with bettors has led to the historic line from oddsmakers at Las Vegas Hotel's Super Book and William Hill. The biggest previous NFL point spread dating back to 1972 was the Pittsburgh Steelers at -26 for a Dec. 5, 1976, game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to Las Vegas-based handicapping information website Pregame.com.
"The Las Vegas consensus opinion deems Denver to be the best team in the league, and Jacksonville to be the worst team anyone can remember," Pregame founder RJ Bell said in an email. "Add in the Broncos record-setting point production and you have the recipe for the biggest favorite of all-time."
The Broncos host the Jaguars on Oct. 13 coming off their closest game of the season.
Denver stayed unbeaten by pulling out a 51-48 road victory over the Dallas Cowboys yesterday on Matt Prater's 28-yard field goal as time expired. It was the first time this season the Broncos, who oddsmakers favored by 7 1/2 points, failed to win a game by more than 10 points or cover the point spread.
The Broncos, behind Manning, have been the NFL's most dominant offensive unit and their 230 points are a record for the first five games of a season. Denver has run off 16 straight regular-season wins and yesterday's was the team's first of less than seven points during that stretch.
The Jaguars got more bad luck yesterday when they lost starting left tackle Luke Joeckel, the No. 2 pick in this year's draft, for the rest of the year with a broken ankle.
The Seattle Seahawks were favored by as many as 20 points against the Jaguars in Week 3 of this season, tying the record for the earliest the NFL has had such an overwhelming pick. Seattle routed Jacksonville 45-17.
In 1976, when Pittsburgh had its record-setting spread against Tampa Bay, the Steelers were the defending Super Bowl champions and hosting an expansion Buccaneers team that was 0-12 at the time. Pittsburgh won 42-0.
The Broncos become the 12th NFL team since then to be favored by 20 or more points.
The New England Patriots were favored by more than 20 points four times when they went 16-0 during the 2007 regular season, including a 24 1/2-point spread in a Week 12 game against the Philadelphia Eagles. It was the largest spread for an NFL game involving a non-expansion team, and the Patriots pulled out a 31-28 win in the fourth quarter, matching their smallest margin of victory that season.