The Super Bowl started in 1967, and it’s the yearly culmination of the largest sporting league in the United States. The AFL and NFL were originally competing brands, but the Super Bowl was proposed as part of their impending merger agreement. After the merger, the leagues were split into conferences known as the NFL and AFL, with the conference champions meeting each year in the title game.
The game is held each February in a different stadium, although some venues have hosted more than once. Hosting rights are bid on and announced years in advance, with preference being given to stadiums in more temperate parts of the United States.
Super Bowl broadcasts are often the most-watched television event of the year in America, and the amount of food consumed is second only to Thanksgiving. Super Bowl betting is also a popular pastime, whether someone wagers with a professional bookie or friends they’ve invited over to watch the game.
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2017 Super Bowl / Super Bowl LI
While Super Bowl LI is over 10 months away, betting sites have already started posting futures for the upcoming Super Bowl 2017 champion. The New England Patriots are the early favorites at 8 to 1, which means they would pay $800 for every $100 wagered. Other leading contenders include the Seattle Seahawks (10 to 1), Pittsburgh Steelers (10 to 1), and Green Bay Packers (10 to 1).
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the lowly Cleveland Browns are the biggest long shot bet at 200 to 1. That means a $100 wager would win you $20,000, but take a close look at the organization before you get too excited. Other extreme underdogs include the Tennessee Titans (75 to 1), San Francisco 49ers (80 to 1), and Jacksonville Jaguars (65 to 1).
It’s hard to bet against the Patriots, even if they are the odds-on favorites. The team is consistently among the best, and Tom Brady still has a few quality seasons left in him. They added several pieces in free agency, and the team is so stacked with young talent that they’re able to let productive players like Chandler Jones leave in order to better manage the salary cap.
If I were going to wager on a team with worse odds, I’d have to go with the Cowboys at 20 to 1. They started the season 2-0 in 2015, but they also lost star receiver Dez Bryant and quarterback Tony Romo before those games were over.
The loss of Romo was especially devastating, as the team’s backup quarterbacks played pitifully en route to a 4-12 season. The former undrafted NFL free agent should be ready to return in 2016 with a surgically reinforced collarbone and the best offensive line in the league, and owner Jerry Jones is desperate to pick up another Super Bowl ring.
Types of Super Bowl Bets
The annual Super Bowl is one of the most popular sporting events on the planet. Even those who couldn’t care less about American football the rest of the year tune in to see the expensive commercials and lavish halftime show. Due to this attention, sportsbooks offer a massive amount of betting options for both the professional and casual gambler. Here are some of the more popular choices:
- Winner – Some sportsbooks allow bettors to choose a winner straight up, but most employ a point spread. This adds points to the underdog’s final score or subtracts them from the favorite’s total. If the team you wagered on is in the lead following the adjustment, then you collect a payout.
- Future Winner – This option lets bettors wager on the Super Bowl winner months in advance. In fact, odds are usually set right after a Super Bowl game is completed.
- Other Futures – Other options are available for long-term prognosticators. Some of these include the MVP for the upcoming season, as well as winners of individual divisions.
- Prop Bets – These wagers focus on something other than the specific winner of the game, and sportsbooks often go wild with these during the month leading up to the Super Bowl. I’ve seen betting sites offer 50 or more prop bets on the event, so there’s no lack of items to choose from. These range from whether or not a specific player cries during the National Anthem to the first player to score points in the game.
- Live Betting – If you prefer to wager on games while they’re underway, this popular form of gambling allows you to do just that. Live football betting requires constant adjustment and a great deal of analysis and intuition, but adrenaline junkies often swear by it for the added thrill.
Notable Super Bowl Upsets
No matter what the athletic competition, upsets are bound to happen. At lower levels, these stunning reversals of fortune are soon forgotten, but they tend to take on a more mythical quality then they occur on a global stage. The following are some of the most notable Super Bowl upsets, which should serve as inspiration to any bettor hoping to find a profitable underdog.
- Caroline Panthers vs Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 – Led by the play of quarterback Cam Newton and a dominant defense, the Panthers were five point favorites. Someone forgot to tell the Broncos pass rush, though, as they harried the opposing signal caller repeatedly and won Peyton Manning his second championship ring by a score of 24 to 10.
- New York Jets vs Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III – This was the first game to use the “Super Bowl” name, and it’s famous for upstart AFL quarterback Joe Namath guaranteeing a Jets win against the traditionally dominant NFL squad. The Colts were favored by 18 going into the game, but “Broadway” Joe kept his promise, leading his team to a 16-7 win.
- New England Patriots vs St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI – The Rams were 14 point favorites, as they had put together a 14-2 record in the regular season and were making their second Super Bowl appearance in three years. The Pats, meanwhile, were led by fresh-faced quarterback and sixth-round pick Tom Brady. This was the beginning of the Patriots dynasty, as they stunned the sports world by upending the “Greatest Show on Turf” by a three point margin, 20-17.
- Minnesota Vikings vs Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl IV – A year after Joe Namath and the Jets defeated the NFL’s Super Bowl representative for the first time, there were still plenty of people who dismissed the AFL as inferior. That all changed on January 11th, 1970, as the Vikings (favored by 13 points) were hammered 23-7 by the Chiefs. Following the season, the AFL and NFL would merge into a single league and end the debate about superiority once and for all.
- New England Patriots vs New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII – The dynasty of the Patriots was in full swing by this point, as evidenced by their perfect 16-0 record during the regular season. The Giants, meanwhile, captured a wild card berth led by the erratic play of quarterback Eli Manning. New England was made a 12 point favorite, and most expected the game to be a massacre. The Giants kept the score close, mounting an 83-yard drive in the final minutes of the game to seal a 17-14 victory. Many consider this the biggest upset in Super Bowl history, as well as the finest game.