5 Super Bowl Champions That Were Blips on the NFL Futures Betting Radar

Rams And Giants Superbowl Background

Today, we’re doing a little history post here on five Super Bowl Champions that were, or would have been, barely a blip on the NFL betting radar. In some areas, sports betting has been around for some time. In others, it’s a recent addition to the gambling game.

For the purpose of today’s post:
We will look at each team and season as though sports betting were a thing. We’re just pointing out teams that, for one reason or another, won the Super Bowl against longer preseason odds.

But what was it that made them attractive futures bets to those that took a chance on them? Today’s post will explain, using five examples since 1999.

1. 1999 St. Louis Rams

The obvious choice, right?

In 1998, the St. Louis Rams (it’s so weird calling them that) finished 4-12 and fifth in the NFC West, which means they finished last in their division. They sputtered behind Tony Banks and Steve Bono, so they went out and signed Trent Green.

You know what happened.
Green went down with an injury and in comes some man named Kurt Warner. Warner did the unthinkable, and led the Rams to a Super Bowl Championship.

Even more impressive, Warner had thrown just 11 passes before then, completing four of them. The Rams were so “impressed” with Warner, they exposed him as one of five unprotected players in the 1999 Expansion Draft for the resurrected Cleveland Browns, who did not take him.

But what would have made the 1999 Rams a solid futures bet?

For one, you can look at their 1999 roster and say that it didn’t matter who played quarterback. They were going to be the “Greatest Show on Turf” no matter what. They drafted Torrey Holt and signed Marshall Faulk. They also had solid third and fourth options at receiver.

There was no way, even for a backup quarterback like Warner, to mess this up. Of course, Warner became a household name and Hall of Fame quarterback after that, playing in two more Super Bowls – one more with the Rams. But it shows you that when you engage in sports betting, always look at the current roster. And ask yourself whether the team needs a stud quarterback to lead them, or would a game manager do.

You can also say the same thing about the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, who had Trent Dilfer as a starter, and the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who started Brad Johnson. Both teams, instead of boasting powerful offenses, won games on defense.

2. 2007 New York Giants

If you’d like, you can also place the 2011 Giants here, since they too won the Super Bowl against longer odds. Anyway, the 2006 Giants finished 8-8 and were that “Happy to be There” team in the NFL playoffs, getting knocked out in the Wild Card Round.

Fast-forward to 2007:
This team was in absolute turmoil. Coughlin’s old-school coaching methods did not relate well to his players, and the Mara family considered firing him. However, after undergoing instruction on how to better relate to his players, the Mara family gave him one more chance. Coughlin also set up leadership committees and looked for feedback from the players regarding his coaching methods.

The team finished 10-6, and still, no one expected much of the team in the playoffs. Again, you know what happened; a helmet-catch from David Tyree set the stage for the Giants pulling off perhaps the biggest upset in NFL history over the 18-0 New England Patriots

Should you have seen this coming?
Realistically, no one can. But if you paid close attention to the Giants, the personality change in Coughlin was huge. So, for future reference on NFL futures betting, stop and look inward at a team during the offseason.

Is change coming from within? If so, odds are pretty high that they may outperform their current betting odds. Especially when that change is for the better.

3. 2015 Denver Broncos

Alright, it was Peyton Manning’s final season, and many argued he should have retired the previous year given his waning arm strength and overall performance.

He posted the worst quarterback rating of his career and Brock Osweiler, Manning’s backup, played a huge role in getting this team to the playoffs.

At this point, sports betting was becoming more than just a blip in the betting world, so you may have been paying more attention to the 2015 Broncos. And since it’s more recent, it’s probably fresher in your mind.

So, what made the Broncos a better bet than some gave them credit for?

Defense, defense, and more defense. And even in the pass-happy league the NFL was and still is, but to a lesser extent today, defense still won championships.

And they got ultra-hot during the playoffs, having never allowed over 18 points in a single playoff game.

They allowed over 30 points just once, and 27 or more points 3 times.

Sure, that’s all in hindsight. But what about foresight?

There is an answer, as after a modest season when they allowed 354 points and 22.1 points per game in 2014, they made a change at defensive coordinator, hiring the famed Wade Phillips to the position. This is a situation where the Broncos had more than enough personnel along the defense; they just needed one more puzzle piece to make it work, and it happened to be on the staff.

Want more fun?
Phillips also served as defensive coordinator to the Houston Texans during their defense’s heyday between 2011 and 2013. He also later served as defensive coordinator to the Los Angeles Rams between 2017 and 2019, building them into the powerhouse they became in 2020.

Once again, the 2015 Broncos show us how important it is to look inward, this time at actual coaching changes, before placing a futures bet. See if a team you’re considering placing a futures bet on is hiring a household name, or at least close to it. It will turn a team with longer odds into a rather smart bet. Even if they ultimately don’t win it all.

4. 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers needed a missing piece with Tom Brady. And yes, the missing piece is what we can use to turn a team into a more popular futures bet. But for some odd reason, most NFL experts liked the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers more, along with the San Francisco 49ers.

They said Brady and the Bucs would end up in the playoffs and probably even reach the NFC Championship. And while they were a more popular futures bet, especially regarding the Super Bowl, they were still second, third, and fourth-fiddle to the aforementioned teams.

If you look at the Buccaneers before they signed Brady, they were a good football team. They didn’t have a good pass defense. But overall, their defense was far better than the 449 points it allowed, bad enough for 28 points per game.

But what caused the illusion that the defense looked so bad?

You can start with the fact that former quarterback Jameis Winston tossed 30 interceptions, routinely giving teams short fields to work with and capitalize on.

So, the Bucs were in that “missing pieces” mode.

They drafted players for their defensive backfield and of course, signed Brady. Brady more than cut the turnovers in half, and additions to the defensive backfield held up.

What can we learn?
That before placing a futures bet, ask yourself how “close” a team is. If they’re close, then ask if they signed anyone, or drafted anyone, to catapult them over the top. If they did, they’re a much smarter bet than you may realize.

Often, this is a middle-of-the-road team from the previous season. And that team just brought in a new coach, quarterback, or someone to give their respective team that final push.

5. 2001 New England Patriots

And finally, we got the 2001 New England Patriots, a team that finished 5-11 the previous year and one nobody saw coming.

But should we have?
The answer lies here: The Patriots had a coach that made all of his mistakes in a previous location and went out of his own way to hone his abilities. That coach is clearly Bill Belichick, and with him came bucketloads of talent that did not include a future G.O.A.T.

Actually, it did, but at the time, no one saw Tom Brady winning seven titles.

But the Pats had talent all over the field when you look at the roster:
Ty Law, Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi, Joe Andruzzi, Matt Light, Damien Woody, Richard Seymour, Willie McGinest, Adam Vinatieri, and Lawyer Milloy, just to name a few.

Take a coach with previous NFL experience with a roster as talented as the 2001 Patriots owned, they were much better than many gave them credit for.

Sure, they’d still have long odds at winning it all, but here’s the lesson:

If a team has talent all over the field along with an experienced head coach, they’re a good bet, regardless of their odds. And you can even see that play out around the league today.


These five examples are just a few of many that you can look at in terms of what made them better NFL futures bets than many thought. Plus, we can take a valuable lesson from each of them to consider the next time we place a futures bet at the NFL betting sites.

Sure, it’s easy to get hooked on those with better odds to win it all. However, other times you need to look deeper into those deep sleepers. Because they can be quite deceptive in a good way. And they may just reward you for taking a chance on them.

So, look inward at these teams and see if they made obscure but valuable changes. Look at the entire roster, not just at who’s playing quarterback. And see if those in the front office made changes to their own styles.


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Rex Hoffman / Author

Rex Hoffman is a passionate sports writer, with over five years of experience covering sports journalism in line with the Vegas betting landscape. His favorite subjects include football, basketball, and baseball. As a Las Vegas resident, he enjoys finding an edge against the local sportsbooks and aims to share his extensive knowledge with both beginners and experienced bettors. Rex also dabbles in horse racing wagering and enjoys typical casino fare like blackjack and poker in his spare time.

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