By Erik Matuszewski Bloomberg News
NEW YORK — The Seattle Seahawks are favored by as many as 20 points in their Week 3 game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, tying the record for the earliest the NFL has had such an overwhelming pick.
Coming off a 29-3 home rout of the defending NFC-champion San Francisco 49ers, the 2-0 Seahawks are just the 11th NFL team to be favored by 20 or more points in a game since 1978, according to the Las Vegas-based handicapping information website Pregame.com.
“I’m not surprised,” Pregame.com founder RJ Bell said. “Many in Vegas consider Seattle to be the best team in the NFL, with the biggest home-field advantage, while many also consider Jacksonville to be the worst team in the NFL.”
The 1992 Buffalo Bills, coming off two straight Super Bowl appearances, were the only other team favored by 20 points during the first three weeks of an NFL season, Bell said. The Bills that season were listed by oddsmakers as -20 in their Week 3 home game against Indianapolis, and beat the Colts 38-0.
Only one other team has been favored by as many as 20 points during the first half of an NFL season. In 1987, the 49ers were 231/2-point favorites against the Atlanta Falcons in a mid-October game. San Francisco won 25-17.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said his team doesn’t look past any opponent. He also said Seattle isn’t in any danger of a letdown after last weekend’s win against the division-rival 49ers, a matchup of two of the oddsmakers’ top three Super Bowl favorites.
“Every game is a championship opportunity for us,” said Carroll, whose team is seeking the sixth 3-0 start in franchise history. “The way you ensure that is by the way you prepare. If you practice properly, with the same intentions and standards every week, then you guarantee your best chance to perform well.”
The point spread for the Seahawks’ game this week has swelled from its opening line of 161/2 or 17 points as Seattle’s No. 1-ranked defense faces the NFL’s worst offense. Sportsbooks at the MGM Grand and Wynn in Las Vegas are among those to push the Seahawks to 20-point favorites.
The Seahawks have outscored opponents 272-98 during a nine-game home winning streak and have allowed an NFL-low 10 points this season. They lead the league in average yards allowed (230) and average passing yards allowed (113).
The Jaguars have been held to 11 points — the fewest among the NFL’s 32 teams — while getting outscored by a total of 36 points in their two losses. Jacksonville has Chad Henne as its starting quarterback in place of Blaine Gabbert, who cut his throwing hand in a season-opening loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, while Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew’s availability for this week is in question because of a strained ankle tendon.
“It’s a great challenge for our guys,” Jaguars coach Gus Bradley, who spent the past four seasons as the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator, said of facing Seattle. “Any time you have a chance to go up against a really good football team, it’s a good thing. It’s time for us to continue to improve.”