Biggest Surprise Super Bowl Winners of All-Time
Before every NFL season, fans sit down and try to predict the winner. Most of the time, you’ll see them place a bet on their top choice or a sleeper that presents great value.
We usually see one of the favorites come through, but there are instances of a preseason longshot winning it all. These seven teams defied the odds all season and won the Super Bowl.
Here are the biggest longshot Super Bowl winners.
7. 2008 New York Giants (+3000)
Coming into the 2007 season, the New York Giants hadn’t had much success in the Eli Manning era. They made the playoffs in 2005 and 2006, but failed to win a playoff game.
There wasn’t a lot of hype surrounding the Giants, but they looked like a playoff team early.
After losing their first two games, the Giants won six in a row. That gave them a 6-2 start for the second straight season. In 2006, they had a disappointing close to the season, going 2-6. In 2007, it was a little better at 4-4.
Truthfully, their numbers didn’t show they were an elite team. Check out where they ranked in scoring on offense and defense.
- Points Per Game: 23.3 (14th)
- Points Allowed Per Game: 21.9 (17th)
Although, they did lead the league in sacks.
New York began their march to the Super Bowl with a victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Then, they went on the road and beat the Dallas Cowboys for the first time that season. The Giants scored the game-winning touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
In the NFC Championship Game, the Giants knocked off the Green Bay Packers in one of the coldest games in NFL history.
New York’s defense held down the Patriots vaunted offense, but the Giants needed a touchdown on their final drive. David Tyree made one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history with the helmet catch.
A few plays later, Manning threw the game-winning touchdown to Plaxico Burress.
They were the underdogs all season but in the end, the Giants pulled it off.
6. 1983 Washington Redskins (+3500)
The Washington Redskins had a nice little run in the early 1970s, but they came into the 1982 season with one playoff berth in the last seven seasons. This marked the second season of the Joe Gibbs era.
After winning their first two games, the NFL went on hold after the players went on strike. The strike lasted nearly two months before Washington played their third game of the season.
Washington opened the restart with back-to-back wins before losing to the Dallas Cowboys. That wound up being their only loss of the season.
Because of the strike, the NFL adopted a new playoff format. They ranked the top eight teams from each conference, allowing Washington to finish No. 1 in the NFC.
A victory over the Dallas Cowboys sent Washington to the Super Bowl. They faced off with the Miami Dolphins in a rematch of Super Bowl VII.
Miami controlled most of the game, but Washington pulled ahead on a 43-yard touchdown run by John Riggins in the fourth quarter. Washington added on another touchdown to win the Super Bowl 27-17.
All postseason, Riggins was the star of the team.
- 136 carries
- 610 rushing yards (152.5 per game)
- 4 touchdowns
How many times over the years have we seen a team win a Super Bowl with a strong run game and great defense? Washington perfected that strategy en route to their first title in franchise history.
Also, fun fact about this season. Washington kicker Mark Moseley won MVP after making a then record 21 straight field goals. As of 2021, he is the only kicker in NFL history to win MVP.
5. 1981 Oakland Raiders (+3500)
The 1980 Oakland Raiders were only three seasons removed from winning the Super Bowl. However, they missed the playoffs in both 1978 and 1979. They also made a big move in the offseason.
Oakland traded quarterback Ken Stabler to the Houston Oilers for Dan Pastorini. Initially, it looked like the trade was a big mistake. Pastorini struggled to start the season and broke his leg in Week 5. The Raiders were 2-3 and it looked like it was a lost season.
On defense, cornerback Lester Hayes won Defensive Player of the Year after recording 13 interceptions. Check out where that total ranks in a single season in NFL history.
- Night Train Lane: 14
- Dan Sandifer: 14
- Lester Hayes: 13
- Spec Sanders: 13
In the wild card round, Oakland dominated the fourth quarter to defeat the Houston Oilers. The following round, the Raiders held a 14-12 lead late in the game, but the Cleveland Browns were in field goal range.
Cleveland instructed their quarterback to throw it away, unless it was wide open. Instead, Brian Sipe forced it into a tight window, throwing an interception. Nowadays, everyone knows the play as Red Right 88.
Oakland upset the San Diego Chargers to advance to the Super Bowl.
The Philadelphia Eagles came in as (-3.0) point favorites, but the Raiders controlled the game from start to finish. They jumped out to a 14-0 lead and went on to win 27-10.
Plunkett capped off an amazing season by winning Super Bowl MVP.
- 261 yards
- 3 touchdowns
It was quite the turnaround for both Plunkett and the Raiders.
4. 2018 Philadelphia Eagles (+4000)
The Philadelphia Eagles were one of the top teams in the Andy Reid era. Coming into the 2017 season, the Eagles only made the playoffs once in the previous six seasons.
Carson Wentz struggled in his rookie season, but the hope was he could grow in his second season. I’d say he did that and then some.
Between Wentz’s strong play and the Eagles defense, they went on a nine-game win streak to begin the season 10-1.
Unfortunately, Wentz tore his ACL in Week 14. Check out his production up to that point.
- 60.2 completion percentage
- 3,296 passing yards
- 33 passing touchdowns
- 7 interceptions
It was a brutal loss, as Wentz likely would’ve won MVP.
Nick Foles took over as the Eagles finished the season with an NFL best 13 wins. Despite having the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the Eagles went into the playoffs as underdogs.
In the divisional round, their defense made a goal-line stand in the final seconds to defeat the Atlanta Falcons 15-10.
The NFC Championship Game was a blowout, as Foles passed for 352 yards and three touchdowns.
Philadelphia closed the first half on a trick play that saw Foles catch a one-yard touchdown. Nowadays, everyone knows the play as Philly Special.
Late in the game, Philadelphia faced a one-point deficit, Foles threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Zach Ertz. The Eagles later added a field goal to win 41-33.
Foles delivered one of the greatest performances for a backup quarterback in NFL history.
Everyone counted them out, but the Eagles refused to back down. In the end, they won their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
3. 1982 San Francisco 49ers (+5000)
Today, everyone knows about the San Francisco 49ers dynasty run in the 1980s. In the beginning, it wasn’t one that many people saw coming.
Coming into the 1981 season, the 49ers went eight years without making the playoffs. They won less than eight games in seven of those eight seasons.
San Francisco struggled early, losing two of their first three games. From there, we found out just how great this team can be.
It was nearly a perfect end to the regular season for the 49ers. They won 12 of their last 13 games to finish the season 13-3. A big reason for that run was their success on both sides of the ball.
- Points Per Game: 22.3 (7th)
- Points Allowed Per Game: 15.6 (2nd)
San Francisco cruised into the NFC Championship Game with a 38-24 victory over the New York Giants.
In the NFC Championship Game, it was a back-and-forth affair against the Dallas Cowboys. Despite six turnovers, the 49ers found themselves with a chance to win.
Facing a six-point deficit, Montana led the 49ers down the field. With just under a minute remaining, they faced a 3rd and 3 from the six-yard line. Montana hit Dwight Clark in the back of the end zone to give the 49ers the lead and win.
San Francisco held a 20-0 at halftime, but the Bengals managed to cut the deficit to six. The 49ers had a pair of field goals to put the game out of reach.
They won 26-21 with Montana winning Super Bowl MVP.
2. 2002 New England Patriots (+6000)
Another dynasty that started out of nowhere was the New England Patriots. They finished last in the AFC East in 1999 and 2000. The odds proved that they were heading for another down season.
In the second game of the season, quarterback Drew Bledsoe took a big hit and had to leave the game. That opened the door for backup Tom Brady. Following a 1-3 start for New England, Brady led the Patriots to 10 wins in their final 11 games.
In the divisional round, the Patriots hosted the Oakland Raiders in the snow. Oakland led the majority of the game, but Brady had the ball down three with two minutes remaining.
Early in the drive, Brady appeared to have fumbled, with the Raiders recovering. However, the call was overturned in what is now known as the Tuck Rule Game. The Patriots retained possession and went on to win the game in overtime.
New England had a much easier time in the AFC Championship Game. They jumped out to a 21-3 lead and held off the Pittsburgh Steelers late rally to win 24-17.
The Patriots controlled most of the game, taking a 17-3 lead into the fourth quarter. St. Louis would come roaring back. They scored a pair of touchdowns to tie the game with 90 seconds remaining.
Brady methodically worked the Patriots down the field. He set up them for a 48-yard field goal with seven seconds remaining. Adam Vinatieri hit it straight thru the uprights to give New England the victory.
And that was the last time anyone underestimated Tom Brady.
1. 2000 St. Louis Rams (+15000)
Ahead of the 1999 season, the St. Louis Rams had nothing going for them. They hadn’t won more than seven games in a season since 1989, and lost their starting quarterback in the preseason.
Only four teams had worse odds than the Rams. Their new quarterback, Kurt Warner, had only thrown 11 passes in his NFL career. Somehow, someway, Warner helped lead “The Greatest Show on Turf.”
Warner and the Rams kicked off the season with six straight wins. They had a brief hiccup in the middle of the season but managed to finish the season 13-3. Warner won MVP, but he wasn’t the only star of the offense.
- Marshall Faulk: 1,381 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns
- Isaac Bruce: 1,165 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns
Perhaps a lesser-known fact about this team is they allowed the fourth-fewest points per game.
The Rams outlasted the Minnesota Vikings in a 49-37 shootout to advance to the NFC Championship Game.
In that game, it was a completely different story. Both teams struggled on offense, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers taking a 6-5 lead into the fourth quarter. Warner threw the only touchdown of the game with a little under five minutes remaining.
While they struggled to finish drives, the Rams managed to hold a 16-0 lead late in the third quarter. The Tennessee Titans fought their way back in the game with 16 straight points.
Right after the Titans tied the game, Warner hit Isaac Bruce for the go-ahead 73-yard touchdown. The Titans had just under two minutes remaining to tie the game.
They managed to move down the field but ultimately came up one yard short.
In the process, the Rams became one of the biggest longshots in sports history to win it all.
Betting on the Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is one of the most bet on sporting events in the world. There are so many different ways to bet on it.
Ultimately, the best way to maximize your money is to hit on a long shot ahead of the season. They can be hard to find, but they’re out there.
Most of these teams had a young quarterback that had their first big season. That and an up-and-coming defense are always good factors to consider when looking for longshots.
Whenever you want to look for that sleeper, you can check out the top Super Bowl betting sites.