In six days the Atlanta Falcons meet the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI in Houston. Even though the Falcons sport the League’s best offense, they are three point underdogs to the Patriots. It’s the largest wagering event of the year with Las Vegas sports books taking in $132 million in 2016.
Each era of the NFL can lay claim as the biggest upset in Super Bowl history and these are some of the best contenders.
Super Bowl XLII – New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14
The New England Patriots were on track to be the best team in NFL history heading into the game 18 – 0 – the first undefeated team going to the Super Bowl since the 1972 Dolphins. The Patriots were 12-point favorites going into the game, leading deep into the fourth quarter when Eli Manning connected with David Tyree to keep an 83-yard game-winning drive alive.
Super Bowl XXXVI – New England Patriots 10, St. Louis Rams 17
Tom Brady began the season as Drew Bledsoe’s backup, Kurt Warner was bagging groceries prior to the season and the nation was still rocked from the events of 9/11. The Ram’s “Greatest Show on Turf” fell short of Adam Vinatieri’s 48-yard field goal as time expired.
Super Bowl III – New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7
The Baltimore Colts were one of the NFL’s earliest dynasties with Johnny Unitas at quarterback. “Broadway” Joe Namath famously guaranteed a win to sports reporters the week before the game and helmed the first AFL team win the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XXV – Giants 20, Bills 19
The first of four consecutive Super Bowl losses may be been the team’s best chance at winning. The Bills were favorited with Jim Kelly manning the no-huddle offense. The Giants came back after being down 12-3 but ultimately the game went the Giants way when Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field wide right.
Super Bowl XXXII – Denver Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24
The Broncos squeaked into the playoff in the Wild Card and the Packers went 13-3 on the season making them heavy double-digit favorites. Brett Farve lit up the league for 304 completions, 3,867 yards and 35 touchdowns but the game was remembered as John Elway’s Swan Song, winning the big one and retiring afterwards.
Super Bowl XIII – Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31
The game between the Steelers and Cowboys is best known as “Black Sunday” to Las Vegas bookmakers. The game opened at Pittsburgh favored by 3.5, the amount of action on the Steelers moved the line to 4 and then it slid to 4.5 and Cowboys bettors took action.
The game finished with the Cowboys scoring two touchdowns, losing by four points – leaving the sports books losing on the middle and both sides.