Biggest Upsets In Super Bowl History: Tom Brady Involved In Multiple Surprises

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Giants over Tom Brady and the Patriots is one of biggest Super Bowl upset of all time Photographer: ZUMA/Icon Smi

With Super Bowl 56 inching to kickoff, the sports betting market is pegging the Cincinnati Bengals as underdogs of +4.5 (-110). Taking down the favored Los Angeles Rams would qualify as an upset but would pale in comparison to previous surprise victories in the Big Game. Considering some of the wide point spreads and outcomes of previous Super Bowls, Bengals backers can be downright bullish.

Here are the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history, based on point spread.

New York Jets (+18) vs. Baltimore Colts, Super Bowl 3

Joe Namath, quarterback of the seemingly outmatched Jets, delivered sports’ most famous guarantee. And then the Jets completed one of sports’ greatest upsets. The Colts were a powerhouse, led by the great Johnny Unitas. Additionally, the Jets were a member of the American Football League, which had recently merged with the NFL. The NFL was the premier league at the time, so there was a natural superiority complex toward their upstart challengers. Perhaps the oddsmakers were warranted in their decision to set the spread how they did. After all, the Green Bay Packers dominated their first two Super Bowl opponents by a combined score of 68-24. However, the Jets’ 16-7 victory gave notice that the AFL wasn’t to be looked down upon.

New England Patriots (+14.5) vs. St. Louis Rams, Super Bowl 36

The Rams, also known as the “Greatest Show On Turf”, were an offensive juggernaut barreling toward their second Super Bowl win in three years. They led the league in scoring at 31.4 points per game, and their defense ranked seventh in points against (17.1 per game). Meanwhile, the Patriots entered the final contest on a dominant defensive run, limiting opponents to fewer than 20 points in nine of their last 10 leading into that final Sunday. Not even the league’s highest flying offense could break down Bill Belichick’s defense, and the Patriots would kick off their dynasty with a 20-17 victory, the first of seven Super Bowl victories for Tom Brady.

The Patriots’ upset is part of another story of gambling lore. At Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas that year, Charles Barkley reportedly cashed $1.2 million in winning tickets on New England.

New York Giants (+12.5) vs. New England Patriots, Super Bowl 42

The spread doesn’t do justice to the degree the Patriots were dominating any and all challengers during the 2007 season. Brady, Randy Moss, and Wes Welker were virtually unstoppable. The Patriots’ 36.8 points-per-game outpaced the No. 2 team in that category — the Dallas Cowboys (28.4 PPG) — by over a touchdown. And for good measure, the Patriots smothered opponents defensively, ranking fourth in points allowed. It’s no wonder they entered Super Bowl 42 unblemished at 18-0. It took a Herculean effort from the Giants’ defense (five sacks) — and some luck (the David Tyree helmet catch) — to derail a runaway freight train. The Giants’ 17-14 upset may not be the largest according to the spread, but it’s arguably the most significant.

Kansas City Chiefs (+12) vs. Minnesota Vikings, Super Bowl 4

The Jets pulled off a surprise victory the season prior, but the perception of the NFL’s dominance over it’s AFL counterparts remained. The 1969 season was the last in which the AFL and NFL played separate league schedules before each league’s respective champion met in the Super Bowl. The Vikings led the NFL in both offense and defense — on the back of their dominant “Purple People Eater” defensive line. It wasn’t nearly enough against the Chiefs, though, who won 23-7, further establishing the AFL as a viable force.

Denver Broncos (+11.5) vs. Green Bay Packers, Super Bowl 33

It’s easy to look back and opine that the Broncos didn’t warrant getting double-digit points on the spread. Sure, they finished second in their division — albeit, at 12-4 — but they ranked first in offense (29.5 PPG) and sixth in defense (17.9 PPG). Brett Favre and the Packers were simply that good. Favre was in the midst of three straight MVP campaigns, while the Packers were running on all cylinders en route to what would’ve been back-to-back Super Bowl titles. Instead, it was John Elway and Co. who prevailed, winning the first of two consecutive Lombardi Trophies.

Also check: Printable or online Super Bowl squares | Alternate Super Bowl point spreads | Super Bowl touchdown scorer props | Cooper Kupp props | Super Bowl odds history

About the Author
Craig Williams

Craig Williams

Craig Williams is a Charlotte-based writer for Gaming Today, who has worked professionally in the gaming, fantasy sports, and sports business industries. He’s an avid fantasy football player, managing over 100 leagues across multiple formats. When he’s not pouring over Vegas odds and statistics, he’s indulging in soccer and enjoys anything from LigaMX to Champions League.

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