Do Underdogs Have a Chance in the Super Bowl?

The participants in Super Bowl LVI have been determined, with the Cincinnati Bengals toppling heavy favorite Kansas City to win the AFC and the Los Angeles Rams beating their NFC West rival San Francisco to capture the NFC.

The NFL lines for the big game have come out with the Rams being a -4 point favorite.

Los Angeles would seem to have an advantage in this matchup considering the Super Bowl is being held at their home field of SoFi Stadium. Then again, it sounded like there were more San Francisco fans in attendance at the NFC Championship and the Super Bowl is usually half-filled with corporate executives anyways.

Plus, there aren’t many stadiums tougher to win at than Arrowhead in Kansas City, and Cincinnati overcame that in the AFC Championship.

The Rams would seemingly still be the team to bet on, especially with coach Sean McVay (and many of the current players) having the experience of just playing in the Super Bowl in the 13-3 loss to the Patriots in 2019.

Can Cincinnati pull this off – and do underdogs in general have a chance in the Super Bowl?

Why Do We Root for the Underdog?

The Rams are favored in Super Bowl LVI but expect a ton of money to come in on the Bengals for the simple reason that we love the underdogs. There’s perhaps a no better example than a perceived blue-collar state like Ohio trying to overcome the ‘elite’ of Los Angeles.

Another reason why we root for the underdog is because Cincinnati has never won the Super Bowl, losing to San Francisco in both XVI and XXIII. The Bengals were close to getting a rematch with the 49ers but can still take down another California team in the Rams.

A lot of bettors will take Cincinnati just because they relate to them. The Bengals were ‘losers’ until this year, going 2-14 and 4-11 the last two seasons. People also revel in the misery of others – not necessarily the Bengals losing yet again, but the star-studded Rams dropping a game in their own stadium.

This Bengals team is also likable because Cincinnati is largely unrecognizable to the average fan aside from Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, and Joe Mixon. Why not cheer for this ‘everyman’ team rather than the Rams team stacked with Pro Bowl and All-Pro players like Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp, and Von Miller?

One thing to note about the underdog is that the status doesn’t last long. People loved the Patriots in 2001 when they beat the Rams but were over them nine appearances later, ironically against the same Rams squad in 2019.

Do Underdogs Ever Win?

New England’s win over St. Louis in the 2001-02 season was one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history, with the Patriots being a +14 point underdog. There hasn’t been a spread that high since, although the Giants’ 21-17 win over New England in 2012 with a line of +12 proved that underdogs could definitely come out on top.

That was the Patriots’ first loss of the season.

Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl just last year, beating the Chiefs 31-9 as +3 point underdogs. Favorites had won the game while also covering the spread in three of four games prior. Underdogs had won five straight games before that.

We will see if Burrow adds his name to the list of quarterbacks who have recently gotten a Super Bowl win as an underdog. That includes Eli Manning, Joe Flacco, Russell Wilson, Peyton Manning, Nick Foles, and Tom Brady, so it’s pretty solid company.

This is a rare Super Bowl where even the favorite isn’t as hated as usual, as many fans wouldn’t mind seeing Matthew Stafford finally getting a ring in his 13th year in the league after spending so many miserable years in Detroit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.