The Super Bowl is usually known for featuring some of the most competitive matchups in the NFL, based on the fact that the two teams competing in the game have to be playing at such a high level. But there have been times when the game is an anticipated blowout, with massive spreads heading into the game. These underdogs, in particular, were expected to get destroyed, as they were the biggest outsiders in the history of the Super Bowl.
San Diego Chargers – Super Bowl XXIX
San Diego was never going to defeat the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIX but, then again, nobody else would have had a chance against them either. The Niners were a massive 18.5-point favourite with a spread that is, and likely will forever be, the biggest in the history of the Super Bowl. And, even more surprising, is the fact that they covered that huge spread, winning the game 49-26.
The Niners set the tone immediately, scoring on two touchdowns of 40 yards or more in the first quarter. Steve Young threw six touchdown passes in the game, while the Chargers could only muster two offensive touchdowns for the entire contest.
New York Jets – Super Bowl III
When Joe Namath made his guarantee that the New York Jets would win Super Bowl III over the Baltimore Colts, everyone thought he was crazy. But the only thing that was crazy about Super Bowl III was the fact that the Jets managed to win the game outright as 18-point underdogs. The game was different then, to the point that the Jets held the legendary Johnny Unitas and the Colts offense to just seven points for the game.
New England Patriots – Super Bowl XXXI
When the New England Patriots took on the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI, the focus of the game was on Brett Favre, who was a heavy favourite to get his Super Bowl ring. The Patriots came into the game as 14-point underdogs and put up very little resistance as the Packers were superior to New England in just about every facet of the game. The Packers were the rare Super Bowl favourite to win the title, as they managed to avoid the pitfalls of the rest of the playoff gauntlet en route to their iconic victory.
New England Patriots – Super Bowl XXXVI
The Patriots were a 14-point underdog again in Super Bowl XXXVI when they took on another legendary offence. This time, it was the Greatest Show on Turf of the St. Louis Rams, and this time it was the Patriots scoring one of the legendary upsets in the history of the Super Bowl. The Rams exceeded their pre-season win total over/under of 11 games, with all-time great quarterback Kurt Warner getting the ball to Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt, and Isaac Bruce at the skill positions. But it was relatively unknown quarterback Tom Brady who set up the championship-winning drive, with Adam Vinatieri kicking the game-winning field goal to start the Patriots dynasty.
Super Bowl LIII Outlook
Heading toward Super Bowl LIII, the Patriots go into the divisional round of the playoffs at +600 odds to win the Super Bowl at Betway, far from the underdogs that they were before XXXVI. But they will have to get through one of the toughest playoff fields in recent NFL history to claim another title. Even one of the biggest underdogs in this year’s postseason, the Dallas Cowboys, have been perennial contenders, being on the short list of title contenders in 2017 and 2018 as well. To say that it is truly anyone’s title to win would be an understatement.
To win as a big underdog in the Super Bowl requires a great defensive performance and enough playmakers on offence to put together offensive sequences late in the game. But as teams like the Niners and Packers have shown, there is a reason that those teams are big underdogs, as the double-digit favourite in the Super Bowl is rare not just in terms of the point spread but in terms of how difficult it is to be a dominant team in the NFL. Barring a series of upsets in a season, it is unlikely there will be another double-digit Super Bowl favourite any time soon.