NFL Super Bowl
Though the NFL was established in the 1920s, the Super Bowl is a relatively new addition to the league. It all came about when talks of an AFL-NFL Merger began in 1966. One of the conditions of the proposed merger would be that winners of each league's championship game would face off to determine the "world champion of football" thus the concept of the Super Bowl was born.
It is said that NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle wanted to call the game "The Big One", but during some discussions Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt jokingly suggested that the game be called "The Super Bowl", drawing inspiration from a toy his children played with called the Super Ball (this ball is now on display in the Pro Football Hall of Fame). The name stuck, though it wouldn't be put to use until the 1969-70 season when the merger between the two leagues was complete. The first "Super Bowl" was played on January 15, 1967 between the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Super Bowl was originally scheduled for early to mid January, but over the years it has gradually been pushed back due to changes in the league such as the 16 week regular season, the addition of a third round to the playoffs, the addition of the bye week, and the decision to start the regular season after Labor Day. It is now played on the first Sunday in February. The game is the most watched American television broadcast, and is considered by many Americans (football fans or not) to be somewhat of a national holiday. It is fondly referred to as Super Bowl Sunday.
There are plenty of reasons as to why this is such a great game, but there is one that stands above the rest: underdogs. Many people tune in to watch the biggest football game of the year for the sole purpose of rooting for the unlikely winner, and isn't it great when they overcome the odds. With that in mind, here's a look at the top underdogs in Super Bowl history.
Super Bowl XLVII will be played between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Sunday February 3rd.
The game has been dubbed the Har-Bowl as Jim and John Harbaugh will become the first pair of brothers to coach against each other in the Super Bowl.
The 49ers have been the form team of the NFL Playoffs and really showed their composure after coming back from 17-0 deficit against the Atlanta Falcons. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has started in just nine NFL games, has been the dominant player during the playoffs and if he can lead the 49ers to victory, once more, is a shoe-in for the NFL Playoffs MVP award.
The 49ers believe they are stronger than the Ravens on both sides of the football and will head into this game full of confidence.
The Baltimore Ravens have pulled off two massive upsets, against the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots, to win the AFC Championship and qualify for the Super Bowl.
Quarterback Joe Flacco has produced two of the best performances of his career to outplay Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, to silence his doubters and lead his side to the NFL Finals.
The Ravens are playing full of emotion as they hope to send retiring linebacker and inspirational leader Ray Lewis out a champion.
This is a very intriguing match-up between two teams that have built their team around defense but have improved significantly on offense this season.
The 49ers are currently favorites at online sportsbooks but are still good value. The Ravens are available at good odds and are being given a four point start in spread betting markets.
Super Bowl III: Jets v Colts
This is perhaps one of the biggest upsets in sports history. It was not only the first championship game to be called the Super Bowl, but it was also the game that legitimized the AFL teams.
The Jets came into this one as 18-point underdogs. Many people considered the AFL to be several notches below the NFL when it came to talent. Add to that the fact that the Baltimore Colts were being touted as the greatest team in NFL history. Jets quarterback Joe Namath - who was relatively unknown at the time - thought otherwise and brazenly guaranteed that the Jets were going to win in an interview days before the game.
Namath became an NFL legend when his words came true. The Jets, utilizing a game plan that emphasized running and short passes, won the game 16-7. It was the first Super Bowl win for an AFL team.
Super Bowl IV: Chiefs v Vikings
If Joe Namath and the Jets showed that the AFL could compete, this game proved that an AFL win was no fluke.
The Vikings were favored by a massive 12 points going in to this game. They posted an NFL best 12-2 record during the regular season, and were sporting one of the most intimidating defensive lines in the league. Known as the "Purple People Eaters", the Viking defense dominated the field. The Chiefs, on the other hand, seemed to be jinxed from the start of the season. In the end, they made it to the playoffs because of a new playoff format that made them a wild card team of sorts, but no one expected much.
Despite earning their place in the biggest game of the year, many people still didn't believe that this AFL team had it in them to stop the Vikings. The Chiefs apparently weren't paying attention to the criticisms because they managed to shut down Minnesota's powerful defense. Led by quarterback Len Dawson and sporting a powerful defense led by Buck Buchanan, the Chiefs handed the Vikings a 23-7 loss.
Super Bowl XXXII: Broncos v Packers
The Packers were the defending Super Bowl champions and the Broncos had a 0-4 record when it came to the big game.
The Packers made it to the playoffs after posting an impressive 13-3 season. Led by Brett Favre, the team easily advanced through the playoffs. The Broncos, made it into the playoffs on a wild card. Led by famed quarterback John Elway, the team wasn't considered to be much of a contender when compared to the Packers. In fact, they were double-digit underdogs going into the game.
The Packers came on strong, scoring the first touchdown of the game. Though it didnít take long for the tides to turn. The Broncos pulled ahead and eventually ran out the time after a turnover in the fourth quarter to secure the 31-24 victory. Elway's long awaited Super Bowl win had finally come. Their win ended a 13 year AFC losing streak and made them only the second wild card team to win a Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XXXVI: Patriots v Rams
The Patriots battled through a rough season to make it through to the Super Bowl, while the Rams sailed through with one of the best offensive lines in the league.
Following their successful 1999 season, the Rams once again dominated the league with their offense nicknamed "The Greatest Show on Turf". They posted the best record in the NFL that year at 14-2. Going into the game as previous Super Bowl champions, they were favored by 14 points. The Patriots lost starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe, and replaced him with second year, relative unknown Tom Brady. It proved to be an effective decision as Brady achieved immediate success; however, no one imagined that this new starter would be able to lead an effective game against the all-powerful Rams.
The Patriots, utilizing an extremely physical style of play, went on to shut down "The Greatest Show on Turf" to take their first Super Bowl win. It marked the beginning of one of the most successful periods in the Patriots' history.
Super Bowl XLII: Giants v Patriots
Many media outlets asked the question "Who wants it more?" in the days before this memorable game.
After their massive upset of the Rams in 2001, the Pats entered into their fourth Super Bowl appearance in six years. They were heavy favorites with a 18-0 perfect record. On the other side of the field, the Giants were 12-point underdogs. It had been seven years since the last time they won a playoff game; 17 year since they'd won a Super Bowl. With quarterback Eli Manning struggling to live up to his name, expectations were pretty low for the Giants.
This game played out almost entirely in the fourth quarter. As both teams decided to focus on defense only 10 points between them had been amassed by the time the last quarter rolled around. Ultimately, the Giants shocked fans by pulling off an excellent pass rush game, winning 17-14 with a late touchdown.