When I was sitting in my basement watching the Greatest Show on Turf and the 2001 Rams were pissed off by the Out-of-Nowhere (Super Bowl XXXVI) patriots, I got my first betting thrill when I was 15 . My brother Jeremy now owed me $ 20 with an angry Patriot victory. If you don't remember, $ 20 for a 15-year-old could also have been $ 1 million (adjusted for candy inflation). Jeremy, bless his four years older than my heart, couldn't think of a game in which a replacement QB from his hated rival Michigan (Jer went to Illinois), who couldn't even hold the starting job in college of a baseball player (Drew Henson ), could beat the almighty Rams. He offered me a 2-1 bet, which meant I only had to put $ 10 on his $ 20. Aside from my subsequent "$ 20 shopping spree of candy, baseball cards, and the value of youthful male happiness from Maxim magazine" the rest was history. While this was the first time my weak brain had a surprise, it wasn't the first or last time in the Super Bowl. In this article, we're going to look back at the biggest wagers in Super Bowl history from 3 different angles.
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According to BetfirmOver $ 150 million is wagered on the Super Bowl (LEGALLY estimated that over $ 5 billion total is wagered on the game each year). It is undoubtedly America's most widespread sporting event. After nearly 70 years, the Super Bowl has presented a variety of outcomes, from big surprises to obvious favorites smoking inferior opponents (often it felt like the previous AFC / NFC championship game was that indeed Super Bowl). We've looked at the biggest problems in super history and worked out different definitions for a "surprise", at least in the context of sports betting. That is, there are many different ways to measure a "disturbance". So we split them up as follows.
- Outsiders who won the Super Bowl straight away, sorted by the ATS spread before the game
- Underdogs who won the Super Bowl directly, sorted by the difference between the profit margin and the ATS spread
- Favorites that win the Super Bowl outright but don't cover the ATS (meaning the UD is covered)
It's no surprise that Joe Namath, his best fingertip, and "We'll win, I guarantee it" is at the top of the list. Back in 1969, just a few years since the NFL juggernaut allowed The AFL merged and played in a year-end championship, so few anticipated the aspiring AFL could even compete with a seasoned NFL squad and were rated accordingly. The excitement of the 3-touchdown underdog affected the public's perception of the AFL / NFL's competitiveness and went a long way in bringing new eyeballs to this exciting game in its first year under the new title: The Super Bowl (Super Bowl III). You'd think the betting crowd would have learned their lesson, but by the very next year, the Chiefs' 1970 victory over the Vikings as 12-point dogs (Super Bowl IV) became far less well known (possibly because of a lack of Namath sex appeal) on the bed.
While this surprise is number 4 on the list above, I would say that the biggest Super Bowl surprise ever happened in 2008. As the 12 point dogs, the New York Giants pissed off one of the best teams everwho have favourited 2007 New England Patriots (XLII). Why is that so, you ask? Aside from being the only undefeated team to have 16 games, the most advanced analytics websites like it (you know, the ones that answer such critical bar space questions) Soccer outsider listed the Patriots as the second largest team of all time in 2007. If you're wondering who's first, it was the 1991 Redskins who won the Super Bowl. Here is their list based on DVOA (which highlights variance / garbage time, compares it to an average baseline for each game, and adjusts the opponent's strength at each level, but you can learn more Here):
As you can see, no other "best team of all time" in the top five, apart from the fifth best 49ers from 1987, could win a Super Bowl. And beyond that, you can see in this FO article picked up by ESPN; The 2007 Patriots lost to one of the worst Super Bowl opponents of all time, the 2007 giants. All of this adds up to some pretty compelling evidence which, along with their +12 points total and the heavy "hometown betting volume" a New York team is playing in the Super Bowl, tells us this is it worst surprise in Super Bowl history (Sorry Joe).
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However, to be comprehensive, we wanted to share a few other points in order to find the "Biggest Super Bowl Problems". Below is the ranking of the underdogs who won, ordered by the highest difference between the final score and the spread number given by the pre-game sportsbook:
Personally, I find this list more interesting than the first sentence. Remember that a pre-game betting spread is based on an estimated number given by sports betting and how the betting market adjusts it. In other words, if we were to go back in time, to the moment before the ball was launched, the equilibrium point, the fairest handicapped number, was placed on the above spreads. That said, teams like the 2013 Seahawks (Super Bowl XLVIII) were considered to be almost worse field goals than Broncos, but beat them by 35 points (which equates to 37.5 points for this record).
Finally, let's take a look at the "ugly stepsister" from "Super Bowl Upsets": the surprise in the form of a favorite not win enough. We only mention this because it is so rare. Honestly, it's pretty rare in an entire NFL season, in all sports really, when the point rarely spreads Affairs. What does this mean: Play the money line. The favorite only won the Super Bowl directly, STILL, it could only cover the number six times in its history (1976, 1989, 1996, 2004, 2005 and 2009). These unsung heroes for the misguided public betting middlemen are as follows:
In other words, this is a list of underdogs who lost, STILL "closer" than the ATS predicted number. A "close but no cigar" group, if you will. Not a very exciting list with the 2004 Eagles (Super Bowl XXXIX) topping the table, but hopefully it helps us remember that we should only bet on the money line.
There you have the largest bets in super history from 3 different angles.
Check out our Prop Bet Cheat Sheet for the top Super Bowl bets >>
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