LAS VEGAS (AP) — It looked like a mismatch even before Peyton Manning hooked up for his first touchdown pass to Wes Welker and the rest of the NFL found out just how bad the Jacksonville Jaguars really are.
But now it's official. The Denver Broncos are the biggest favorite ever in an NFL game in this gambling city, a whopping four-touchdown pick Sunday at home against the hapless Jaguars.
Sports books in and around Las Vegas make Manning and the Broncos a 28-point favorite over Jacksonville, unheard of in an industry where half-point swings can be huge and most teams are rated within a few points of each other. But even the big line hasn't stopped people from betting money on the Broncos, even after they didn't cover the spread in Sunday's 51-48 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
"It didn't take people long to jump on the Broncos bandwagon, which is at its capacity now," said Jay Kornegay, who runs the sports book at the LVH hotel. "And we expect that to continue."
Though the city's legal sports books don't keep historical records on such things — and the NFL refuses to even acknowledge that betting lines exist — those in the industry say the lopsided point spread surpasses the 26-point margin for favored Pittsburgh against Tampa Bay in 1976 when the Buccaneers were an expansion franchise and the Steelers got within a game of the Super Bowl.
More recently, the biggest favorite was New England as a 24-point pick over Philadelphia in 2007, the year the Patriots made it through the regular season undefeated.
"You have a team that can't seem to get out of their own way against a team that put up 51 points on Sunday," said Jimmy Vaccaro, vice president of sports marketing at the South Point hotel. "Everything feeds into this. It's the best versus the worst."
The game is so lopsided that most sports books aren't even putting up money lines on the game, where a bettor can simply pick a team to win or lose. Instead, oddsmakers tried to find a number that would somehow entice betting on the Jaguars even if they are given almost no chance of winning the game outright.