Biggest NFL underdogs in wild-card history: Steelers face long odds to take down Chiefs

Ben Roethlisberger didn’t speak with much confidence about his team’s chances of beating the Chiefs on Sunday. Bettors agree that the Steelers are a long shot.

FanDuel Sportsbook currently favorites Kansas City by 12.5 points to beat Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh fans can’t exactly look at the last meeting between the two teams for confidence. In Week 16, the Chiefs strangled the Steelers 36-10, with play out of control early in the second half and Patrick Mahomes resting for most of the fourth quarter. Even Roethlisberger was out of the game for Pittsburgh’s final series.

It’s a historic margin, and a Pittsburgh win would be nothing less than that: historic. Sporting News looks at the history of the teams with the worst odds of winning in the wild card round:

The biggest favorites of the NFL wild card round

There is no precedent for a team as favored as the Chiefs to lose in the first round of the playoffs.

According to Stathead, the widest difference 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). Not only did the three favorites win, they all covered the spread.

Even getting over being a touchdown loser is a tough task. Here’s a look at the history of the teams that have faced at least +6.5 odds of winning in the first round of the playoffs.

Made with Flourish

The team with the worst odds of winning to win was the Seahawks in 2011, when they beat the Saints, favorites by 10 points, 41-36. Washington in last season’s playoffs was the only other team to cover a double-digit difference against a favorite, when the Buccaneers (-10) posted a 31-23 victory.

Teams that are at least touchdown favorites in the wild-card round have averaged 25 points to 18 for losers in the previous 50 meetings for teams that have been in that position. All-time favorites have a dominating record of 35-15 when punters set the spread at -6.5.

The all-time NFL playoff losers

While an underdog as big as the Steelers never won in the wild-card round, there is precedent that they won in a playoff matchup.

According to StatheadThe biggest loser to win an NFL playoff game came in 1969, when the Jets surpassed a line of +18 to beat the Baltimore Colts 16-7.

In all, there have been 26 teams in the playoffs that have been losers by at least 12.5 points in the playoffs, according to Stathead, and they are 4-22. Those teams, on average, have been outscored 32-15.

The last time a team lost at least 12.5 points and won was when the Giants defeated the Patriots 17-14 in Super Bowl 42.

The Steelers have only faced odds for so long to win in the postseason, when in 1996 they were underdog by 13.5 points to beat the Cowboys in Super Bowl 30. Although they covered the difference, they lost the game 27-17.