Ben Roethlisberger didn’t talk too confidently about his team’s chances of beating the Chiefs on Sunday. Oddsmakers agree that the Steelers are running a long distance.
FanDuel Sportsbook currently has Kansas City as the 12.5-point favorite to beat Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh fans can’t look exactly at the last meeting of the two teams to be filled with confidence. In week 16, the Chiefs strangled the Steelers 36-10, with the game out of play at the start of the second half and Patrick Mahomes resting most of the fourth quarter. Even Roethlisberger was out of the game for the final ride of Pittsburgh.
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It’s a historical difference, and Pittsburgh’s win would be no less: historical. Sporting News discusses the history of the teams with the most unfavorable chances of winning the wild card round:
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There is no precedent for such a favored team as the Chiefs, who lost in the first round of the playoffs.
According to Stathead, the widest variance in the wild card era (since 1978) is 11 points, which has happened three times: Bears vs. Saints (-11) in 2021, Dolphins vs. Steelers (-11) in 2017 and Vikings vs. Packers in 2013 (-11). The three favorites not only won, but all covered the spread.
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Even overcoming who is a touchdown underdog is a daunting task. Here’s a look at the history of the teams that faced at least +6.5 odds on winning the first round of the playoffs.
The team with the worst chances of winning, which actually caused a stir, was the Seahawks in 2011, when they defeated the 10-point Saints 41:36. Washington last season’s playoffs was the only other team to cover a double-digit spread against the favorite when the Buccaneers (-10) won 31-23.
Teams that are at least a touchdown favorite in a wild card round have averaged 25 points per 18 losers in the previous 50 team meetings. The favorites have an impressive record of 35-15 when bettors set the spread at -6.5.
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While a loser as big as the Steelers has never won a wild card round, there is a precedent for their victory in a playoff game.
According to Stathead, the biggest loser who ever won an NFL playoff match came in 1969, when the Jets crossed the +18 line and defeated the Baltimore Colts 16-7.
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All in all, there were 26 teams in the playoffs, which were at least 12.5 points weaker than in the playoffs, at Stathead, and have a balance of 4-22. These teams lost 32:15 on average.
The team was at least 12.5 points weaker last time and won when the Giants defeated the Patriots 17-14 in Super Bowl 42.
The Steelers only once faced such a long chance of winning the post-season when in 1996 they were a 13.5-point loser to defeat the Cowboys in Super Bowl 30. While covering the spread, they lost the match 27-17.