By Erik Matuszewski Bloomberg News
NEW YORK — The unbeaten Denver Broncos are listed as 28-point favorites against the winless Jacksonville Jaguars for their Week 6 matchup, the biggest spread in NFL 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 0-5 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.