10 Biggest Spreads in Super Bowl History
The Super Bowl is the best time of the year for sports bettors. Millions flock to the casinos or online sportsbooks to place their bets. The Super Bowl provides a wide range of bets, but the spread is always among the favorites.
This matchup should feature the two best teams, but that doesn’t always happen. In that case, we see a big spread. We’ve seen over 10 instances of a team coming into the big game with a spread over 11 points.
Let’s talk about these Super Bowls and how the spread affected the outcome.
10. Super Bowl XXXII: Green Bay Packers (-11.5)
The Green Bay Packers are no secrets to big Super Bowl spreads. This won’t be the last time we talk about them.
Green Bay came into the 1997 season as Super Bowl favorites and remained in that position through the season. The Denver Broncos went into the playoffs as a wild card, winning two road games to advance to the Super Bowl.
Not many gave Denver a shot, but they quickly showed they were here to play.
The Packers walked down the field on their opening drive, but Denver quickly responded. Check out their next three drives.
- 1-yard touchdown run
- 1-yard touchdown run
- 51-yard field goal
Green Bay scored a touchdown late in the first half but trailed by three. At this point, their chances of covering the spread weren’t looking good.
The teams went back and forth in the second half, with the Packers tying the game early in the fourth quarter. Terrell Davis put the final nail in the coffin with a 1-yard touchdown with 1:47 remaining. His performance is one of the best in playoff history.
It wasn’t a great day for the sportsbooks, as they only made a 0.61 percent profit. This was the second time in the 1990s they failed to profit over $1 million.
9. Super Bowl IV: Minnesota Vikings (-12.0)
The final Super Bowl between the AFL and NFL featured the Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings. Despite a big upset in Super Bowl III, everyone still viewed the NFL as the superior league. Because of that, the 12-2 Vikings came in as a big favorite.
Minnesota’s offense was nowhere to be found in the first half. Kansas City kicked three field goals before a touchdown gave them a 16-0 lead at halftime. The Vikings came into the game with the No. 1 offense and defense.
Kansas City responded with a 46-yard touchdown. Neither team scored in the fourth quarter, giving the Chiefs a 23-7 win.
When you look at the turnover numbers, it’s not hard to see why the Vikings lost this game.
- Minnesota Vikings: 5
- Kansas City Chiefs: 1
With the loss, the 1969 Vikings became one of the best teams not to win the Super Bowl.
This was the final season of the AFL vs. NFL, as the two leagues merged the following season.
8. Super Bowl XLII: New England Patriots (-12.5)
I think everyone knows about Super Bowl XLII. The New England Patriots came in looking to become the second team in NFL history to finish the season undefeated.
New England a great offense that season, but we didn’t see that in the Super Bowl. At halftime, they held a 7-3 lead.
The defensive battle continued in the second half. In the fourth quarter, New York took an early lead, but Tom Brady responded with a 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. New York had just under three minutes to score the game-winning touchdown.
On the drive, Eli Manning found David Tyree for a 32-yard gain. Tyree pinned the ball to his helmet in one of the greatest Super Bowl plays.
A few plays later, Manning found Plaxico Burress for the game-winning touchdown.
The sportsbooks took a massive loss on this game, losing over $2.5 million. It was the second time since 1991 they’ve taken a loss on a Super Bowl. It’s a good thing people had faith in the Giants.
7. Super Bowl XXX: Dallas Cowboys (-13.5)
The Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers are no strangers to Super Bowls. Both teams came into Super Bowl XXX looking to win their fifth title. It also marked their third matchup in the Super Bowl.
Dallas’ offense was looking good early, as they scored on their first three drives. Pittsburgh scored a late first-half touchdown as Dallas took a 13-7 lead into the half.
The Cowboys defense struck with an interception in the third quarter. Two plays later, Emmitt Smith’s touchdown gave them a 20-7 lead. Dallas was controlling the game, but would they cover? Well, check out the scoring drives in the fourth quarter.
- 46-yard field goal (20-10)
- 1-yard touchdown run (20-17)
- 4-yard touchdown run (27-17)
As much as Pittsburgh struggled, they had the ball with a chance to take the lead. Neil O’Donnell threw his second interception with four minutes remaining. That set up Smith’s game-clinching touchdown.
Dallas enjoyed the win, but I can’t imagine bettors weren’t happy after they failed to cover. The sportsbooks bounced back from a rough Super Bowl XXVIII to pull in $7.1 million.
6. Super Bowl II: Green Bay Packers (-13.5)
The Green Bay Packers were the class of the NFL in the early Super Bowl days. They won Super Bowl I and came into Super Bowl II as a big favorite over the Oakland Raiders. Oakland went 12-1, but not many believed in the AFL.
Green Bay quickly flexed their muscle, taking a 13-0 lead in the second quarter. Oakland bounced back with a touchdown, but a Packers field goal gave them a 16-7 at halftime.
Herb Adderley put the icing on the cake with a 60-yard pick-six. That was the theme of the game, as the Packers defense forced three turnovers. The Raiders scored a late touchdown, but that didn’t affect the outcome. Green Bay won 33-14, covering the (-13.5) point spread.
Green Bay celebrated the victory by carrying Vince Lombardi off the field. This was his final game as head coach of the Packers. He led the team to back-to-back Super Bowl victories and three NFL Championship titles.
While the Packers dominated that time period, they wouldn’t win another Super Bowl until 1997.
5. Super Bowl XXXVI: St. Louis Rams (-14.0)
In 2001, The Greatest Show of Turf led the NFL in scoring for the third straight season. The St. Louis Rams were the Super Bowl favorite all season, with their odds improving in the playoffs.
The New England Patriots were a longshot, as only five teams came into the season with worse odds. A young Tom Brady led them on a magical playoff run, including upsetting the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game as (+10.0) point underdogs.
In the Super Bowl, the Rams’ dominant offense took a while to show up. Check out what they did in the first half.
- Field Goal
- Missed Field Goal
Kurt Warner’s interception was a pick-six. New England scored a late first-half touchdown to lead 14-3 at halftime.
The Patriots took a 17-3 lead in the third quarter, but the Rams offense finally came to life in the fourth quarter. They scored a pair of touchdowns to tie the game with 1:30 remaining.
That’s when Brady took the Patriots 53 yards to set up the game-winning field goal. Adam Vinatieri knocked it through, giving the Patriots the 20-17 victory. New England become one of the biggest longshot Super Bowl champions.
It wasn’t a great day for the sportsbooks, as they only made a 3.26 percent profit. That was the second-lowest total from 2000-2010.
4. Super Bowl XXXI: Green Bay Packers (-14.0)
The Green Bay Packers were among the top teams in the late 1990s. Behind MVP Brett Favre, the Packers went into Super Bowl XXXI as a (-14.0) point favorite. The New England Patriots were dominant in the playoffs, but they had a tough task ahead of them.
Points were flying off the board in the first quarter, as the Patriots held a 14-10 lead. In the second quarter, the Packers No. 1 offense flexed their muscle.
New England jumped back into the game with a 19-yard touchdown run by Curtis Martin. Desmond Howard took it 99 yards to the house on the ensuing kickoff.
The Packers scored a two-point conversion to take a 14-point lead. Unfortunately for bettors, that was the end of the scoring. Green Bay won 35-21, with the game being a push. This was the first time in Super Bowl history we saw a push.
That led to a 3.2 percent profit for the sportsbooks.
It could’ve gone differently if Green Bay didn’t miss a late field goal.
3. Super Bowl I: Green Bay Packers (-14.0)
I warned you the Green Bay Packers would make a lot of appearances on this list. Super Bowl I marked their biggest spread.
The Packers were the best team in the NFL, leading the league in scoring defense. The Kansas City Chiefs were the best team in the AFL, but people didn’t give that league much respect.
Green Bay scored three touchdowns while shutting down the Chiefs offense. Green Bay won the first Super Bowl and covered the (-14.0) point spread.
Bart Starr took home MVP with 250 passing yards and two touchdowns. However, I think the real star was Packers wide receiver Max McGee.
- 7 receptions
- 138 yards
- 2 touchdowns
I’m not sure how big betting was at that time, but it seems fair to assume bettors had faith in the NFL. I’d like to think they did well.
This was the start of Super Bowl betting.
2. Super Bowl XXIX: San Francisco 49ers (-16.0)
In 1994, the San Francisco 49ers came into the season as Super Bowl favorites. Following a 13-3 season, they went into the playoffs as (-167) favorites. They rolled through the playoffs to become a massive (-16.0) point favorite.
It took all of five minutes for the 49ers to jump out to a 14-0 lead. They did so with a pair of 40+ yard touchdowns from Steve Young. San Diego bounced back with a touchdown, but the 49ers offense was unstoppable. Young threw four touchdowns in the first half to take a 28-10 lead.
In the second half, we saw more of the 49ers domination. They outscored the Chargers 21-16 to win 49-26 and cover the spread. Young walked away with one of the best playoff performances of all time.
- 325 passing yards
- 6 touchdowns
- 49 rushing yards
The 49ers might have been a big favorite, but bettors were all over them. That led to the sportsbooks losing just under $400,000.
Sometimes, it’s not a bad idea to back the big favorite.
1. Super Bowl III: Baltimore Colts (-18.0)
Well, we’ve talked about three of the four NFL vs. AFL Super Bowls. Let’s close things out with Super Bowl III.
Super Bowl III featured the mighty Baltimore Colts. Led by Earl Morrall, they lost one game in the regular season. The New York Jets represented the AFL, with Joe Namath leading the way. The Jets were the big underdog, but Namath guaranteed a victory.
Everyone knew about the Colts defense, but the Jets defense showed up with a big first half. They shutout the Colts, taking a 7-0 lead at halftime. The Jets added a pair of field goals to take a 13-0 lead into the fourth quarter.
At this point, it would take a miracle for the Colts to cover. However, they still had a chance to win the game. Unfortunately, their offense could get anything going. They scored a late touchdown, but the Jets defeated them 16-7.
New York covering the spread probably would’ve surprised people, but I can’t imagine many expected them to win outright.
Betting on the Super Bowl Spread
It’s insane to see how many of these favorites lost outright. Four of the ten biggest favorites failed to win the Super Bowl. Perhaps that’s why the sportsbooks have made the spread a lot closer in recent years.
Aside from the New England Patriots in 2007, we haven’t seen a double-digit spread in nearly 20 years. Before the 21st century, we never went ten straight years without a double-digit spread.
How should you approach big Super Bowl favorites in the future? If this data shows us anything, it’s that you shouldn’t be afraid to sprinkle a little on the underdog winning outright.
Overall, it seems like the underdog is the way to go. The San Francisco 49ers in 1994 are the last double-digit favorite to cover.
The top Super Bowl betting sites will have you covered with any Super Bowl bets.