The Super Bowl is supposed to be the annual contest where the two greatest teams in the NFL that season square off. However, not all Super Bowl teams are built the same. Some tend to sneak in through weak conferences and pure luck, getting pitted against a juggernaut team that’s expected to pound them.
This has led to some very large point spreads throughout Super Bowl history, but not all of them have gone the way of the favorite. You’ll find that the underdog actually wins straight up when point spreads get high enough. Let’s take a look at the five biggest point spreads in NFL history and see how the underdogs and favorites fared in those games.
5. Three Super Bowls (-12)
While there have been many double-digit point spreads in Super Bowl history, it had to have been at least 12 points to make this list. There were three Super Bowls that did just that, starting with the Minnesota Vikings as the 12-point favorite against the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl IV. The next came 20 years later with the San Francisco 49ers favored over the Denver Broncos.
Finally, the New England Patriots were a 12-point favorite to cap off their perfect season in Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants. The Patriots and Vikings would lose straight-up, including the Chiefs handily beating Minnesota. As for the 49ers, they easily covered against Denver, winning 55-10 in a route.
4. Two Super Bowls (-13.5)
The second-ever Super Bowl featured a massive point spread with the Green Bay Packers favored to win by 13.5 over the Raiders. Despite the gigantic odds, the Packers would still cover quite easily, defeating the Raiders 33-14 to win each of the first two Super Bowls in convincing fashion.
The only other time a Super Bowl spread was 13.5 points was when the Dallas Cowboys were favored against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 30th edition of the Super Bowl. The game was tight throughout, and the Cowboys pulled off a double-digit win, but it was only 10 points on the dot. So in the end, the Steelers would cover.
3. Three Super Bowls (-14)
We mentioned the first Super Bowl a moment ago, and it included a massive 14-point spread in favor of the Green Bay Packers. They took on the Kansas City Chiefs to determine the first Super Bowl winner, with the Packers easily covering their high expectations with a 35-10 victory. Exactly 30 years later, the Packers were favored by 14 again, this time against the New England Patriots.
The game ended up being a push as the Packers won by 14 points on the dot, 35-21, for their third Super Bowl title. The final 14-point spread was one of the biggest upsets in NFL history as a then-unknown Tom Brady knocked off the St. Louis Rams led by Kurt Warner in Super Bowl XXXVI, 20-17, starting the New England Patriots dynasty.
2. Super Bowl III (-18)
The first game that was officially called the Super Bowl as it was happening was the third matchup, this time between the NFL champion Baltimore Colts and the AFL-champion New York Jets. Led by Joe Namath, the Jets weren’t given a chance by any expert, though Namath would go on to guarantee that his Jets would win the game.
The Jets’ defense held the Colts down, allowing them to score just seven points throughout the entire game. The Jets not only covered the spread, but pulled off a nine-point victory, defeating Baltimore 16-7. To this day, many consider it the greatest upset in NFL history and ushered in a new era of pro football
1. Super Bowl XXIX (-18.5)
Typically, massive point spreads have led to big upsets, but that wasn’t the case at Super Bowl XXIX. Everyone knew that it was the 49ers’ championship to lose as Steve Young was in search of his big moment. The 49ers walked into the game as 18.5-point favorites over the San Diego Chargers, and the offense more than did its part.
The 49ers walked away with a 49-26 win, meaning that they were able to cover the largest spread in Super Bowl history while also nearly hitting the points total of 53.5 all by themselves. For Young, it was his Hall of Fame moment that got the proverbial monkey off of his back.