Super Bowl Champions Who Faced the Longest Preseason Odds
There have been Super Bowl champions that were wire-to-wire league leaders who lived up to early expectations and others that surprised everyone en route to making history. In Super Bowl 2021 on February 7, the preseason favorites (Kansas City Chiefs) meet the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who were longshots a year ago at +5000 when Super Bowl 55 odds were first released. Of course, that was before Tom Brady bolted the Patriots to Tampa Bay, which settled in around +1400 at the end of July.
These are the true underdogs: the teams no one in August thought would be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in February. Here are the biggest longshots to win the Super Bowl since 1971:
Biggest NFL Preseason Longshots to win the Super Bowl
2000 Baltimore Ravens: +2200
The Baltimore Ravens won their first Super Bowl in just their fifth season after moving from Cleveland thanks in large part to one of the greatest defenses of all time.
As the fourth seed in the AFC, Baltimore scored a Divisional Round upset of the top-seeded Titans who had won the conference the previous year.
They then knocked out Oakland and later the Giants in the Big Game while holding them to 3 and 7 points respectively.
It reminded everyone of the old adage: Defense wins championships.
2007 New York Giants: +3000
It was a game that no one will ever forget.
Eli Manning and a punishing Giants defense knocking out the 18-0 Patriots who were one of the heaviest favorites in Super Bowl history.
It ended what would’ve been only the second undefeated season ever and provided unbelievable drama to the millions watching around the world.
And it was the perfect culmination of a scrappy run by the hardnosed G-men who put together a true grind-it-out season and really earned their way to glory.
1980 Oakland Raiders: +3500
1982 Washington Redskins: +3500
1981 San Francisco 49ers: +5000
2001 New England Patriots: +6000
2017 Eagles: +6000
1999 St. Louis Rams: +15000
Another AFC fourth seed that shocked the world, Oakland was expected to have a down year after trading star quarterback Ken Stabler to the Oilers.
The Raiders were 2-3 when Dan Pastorini, the signal-caller they traded Stabler for, went down with an injury. Backup quarterback Jim Plunkett stepped in and the rest is history.
Oakland rallied to win 13 of its last 15 games and secured the Silver and Black’s second Super Bowl championship.
It was a remarkable run, though they might’ve used a little stickum along the way.
A player strike may have caused a brief shutdown during the 1982 season, but Washington eventually benefited from it.
Before suffering his brutal career-ending leg injury, Joe Theismann led the improbable Skins to the promised land, needing just 12 total wins to do so.
Running back John Riggins’ legendary Super Bowl XVII performance paced Washington past the favored Don Shula-led Dolphins and locked up the franchise's first Super Bowl title.
And 70 Chip became a household term.
49ers quarterback Joe Montana is responsible for the most memorable moment of the 1981 season and one of the greatest in NFL history.
“The Catch” made by Dwight Clark of a Montana pass in the back of the end zone late in the NFC Championship Game essentially signified the changing of the guard from the 70s to the 80s.
That touchdown beat the Dallas Cowboys and sent San Francisco to Super Bowl XVI.
There, the then-unproven 49ers would begin their dynasty and run as the “Team of the 80’s” rising from obscurity to champs for the first time.
Never forget that Tom Brady was once a scruffy backup that only got his chance thanks to an injury to Drew Bledsoe.
The 2001 season was a magical one in New England full of twists and turns and league-changing moments (tuck rule, anyone?).
It ended with what stands as one of the all-time great Super Bowls.
Like Super Bowl XLV, it marked the beginning of another dynasty, and started the Patriots’ reign as the “team of the 2000’s.”
Even if they might’ve done a little extracurricular espionage on their opponent.
The Eagles were on an absolute tear and quarterback Carson Wentz looked destined for Rookie of the Year. They’d defied the preseason odds and emerged as a real contender in many critics’ eyes.
Then Wentz went down. Gone for the season in what many thought was the killing blow for Philly’s Super Bowl dreams.
Then Nick Foles stepped in, and the underdogs started barking.
Against, who else, the New England Patriots, one of the oldest franchises in the NFL captured its first Super Bowl title in a major upset.
It was a moment that rocked the NFL betting world, making it all the more special to the City of Brotherly Love.
The story of the biggest underdog on our list features a familiar trend: a backup quarterback leading his team to a championship.
Trent Green was a local legend expected to do big things in St. Louis when the Rams signed him in 1999. A horrendous leg injury saw the end of those hopes and saw coach Dick Vermeil turn to a former grocery store shelf stacker named Kurt Warner.
The Greatest Show on Turf was born, and in an unforgettable run capped by a Super Bowl decided by mere inches, the Rams got their only title in St. Louis.
Warner would go on to have a Hall of Fame career, but the Rams would eventually move back to Los Angeles.
They live on, however, in that slice of history as the greatest longshot to ever win a Super Bowl.
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