The Five Biggest Underdogs in Super Bowl History

The Five Biggest Underdogs in Super Bowl History 1

Updated: 14th June 2024

  • Only over the past two decades or so has the NFL's “golden age of parity” manifested itself in close Super Bowl games.
  • Before that, for a long while, the Super Bowl actually tended to be a somewhat anticlimactic ending to the NFL's regular season.

Sure, the game might have featured the best teams in their respective conferences, but sadly, the game often ended up being a blowout. In this article we are going to look at the biggest underdogs in Super Bowl history.

In the 70's, AFC teams like the Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders were so much more dominant than whatever opponent they faced. It was much of the same in the 1980's with the San Francisco 49ers, among other NFC teams, playing against the AFC, and then into the 1990's with the 49ers and the Dallas Cowboys.

Five Biggest Underdogs in Super Bowl History

So, to celebrate these teams who made it to the Super Bowl, but were “overlooked” because of their “superior” opponent, here is our list of the five biggest underdogs in Super Bowl history:

5. Pittsburgh Steelers, Super Bowl XXX

Super Bowl XXX was an old-school NFL throwback-type Super Bowl, with the (heavily-favored) Dallas Cowboys taking on the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was the third team these two teams met in the Super Bowl, which is still an NFL record to this day. But these Steelers weren't quite up to par with their legendary counterparts of the 1970's. On top of that, they were facing a Cowboys team that was finishing up its own dynasty. The Steelers, who were 13.5-point underdogs, kept it close for a while, before two awful interceptions thrown by Neil O'Donnell led to the Cowboys winning by a 27-17 score.

4. New England Patriots, Super Bowl XXXVI

Who knew that the team entering this game as the third-biggest underdog in NFL history would leave this game en route to perhaps the greatest dynasty in NFL history? The Patriots played a brilliant defensive game, and Tom Brady's last-second heroics led to Adam Vinatieri's 48-yard game-winning field goal, completing the 20-17 upset.

3. New England Patriots, Super Bowl XXXI

In fairness to the New England Patriots, they were more historical afterthoughts in this game, versus actual competitors. This game ended up finishing exactly how the storyline should have: with Hall of Fame players Brett Favre and Reggie White winning the Super Bowl trophy. The Patriots were 14-point underdogs, and spent much of the game watching history unfold. They lost a 35-21 score — exactly 14 points.

2. New York Jets, Super Bowl III

Biggest Underdogs in Super Bowl History

New York Jets Quarterback Joe Namath predicted and led his team to win 16-13.

There aren't many of us who are old enough to remember having watched this game, but almost everyone who's a football fan is well aware of the storyline of this game.

Not only did New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath predict that the his team would win, but he guaranteed it — regardless of the fact that the Jets were 18-point underdogs.
True to his word, Namath led the Jets to a 16-13 win.

1. San Diego Chargers, Super Bowl XXIX

As 18.5-point underdogs to the San Francisco 49ers, the San Diego Chargers were the proverbial sacrificial lambs to Hall of Famers Steve Young and Jerry Rice. Young threw a Super Bowl-record six touchdown passes, with three of them going to Rice. Young was named MVP of the Super Bowl, and will always be remembered for symbolically “taking the monkey off his back,” in reference to living in Joe Montana's shadow for so long.

That concludes are biggest underdogs in Super Bowl History. If you are going to have a bet on Super Bowl Sunday be sure to check out our recommended sportsbooks that bang in the bonus cash when you sign up and make a deposit.

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