The Kansas City Chiefs could pay off +3000 worth of preseason faith by winning Super Bowl LIII on February 3.
A big payday, for sure, but not nearly enough to make them the longest shot to ever defy the line and capture the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Coincidentally, two franchises still in contention for the NFL title are high on the list.
A common thread in many of these cases: replacement quarterbacks or young signal-callers about to embark on a dynasty.
The teams that defied the bookmakers.
1. 1999 St. Louis Rams (+15000)
The “Greatest Show on Turf” is the greatest show at the betting window.
And like the offensive numbers – and for that matter, defensive – that they produced, it’s not even close.
The Rams, with head coach Mike Martz deploying an arsenal of pass-catching talent and Hall of Famers in quarterback Kurt Warner and running back Marshall Faulk, innovated on offense and frustrated the defense-oriented NFL in completely changing the philosophical direction of the league.
“Let’s be honest,” Warner later told SI.com, “we had a collection of talent that was ridiculous.”
It was no sure thing in the preseason, though, with newly signed Trent Green at quarterback for a team that finished 4-12 season the previous campaign. And a wager placed on a +15000 moneyline didn’t seem like any more of an investment than a whim when Green tore knee ligaments in the preseason and was replaced by Warner, a former Arena Football League quarterback that had been out of football, and, quite legendarily, as this tale unfolded, stocking shelves in a grocery store.
But it worked. It worked incredibly well, in fact, as Warner threw a league-best 41 touchdown passes and the Rams went 13-3 in the regular season. They thwarted a Tennessee Titans comeback bid in the Super Bowl when Warner, the game MVP with a game-record 414 yards passing, hit Isaac Bruce with a game-winning 73-yard touchdown with one minute, 54 seconds left.
A team that began the season being snubbed by handicappers it by pushing on a seven-point line in a 23-16 victory.
“No one was above that team. No one,” Faulk said in his Hall of Fame induction speech. “I believe that our greatest strength was that we believed in the team more than our individual accomplishments.
“I would give anything right now to be in the huddle one minute, 80 yards down by six with the ‘Greatest Show on Turf. Because that's when we were at our best with our backs against the wall.”
2. 2001 New England Patriots (+6000)
Eons ago, before the Patriots won 28 playoffs games and five Super Bowls in 16 seasons, before Tom Brady was the three-time NFL MVP, four-time Super Bowl MVP and head coach Bill Belichick the iconic vision of dread or unscrupulousness for opposing teams with championships aspirations, New England was just a team that had gotten close a few times without being able to finish.
Brady, then a 24-year-old, reportedly undersized 199th selection of the 2000 draft was the backup to Drew Bledsoe in the preseason when sportsbooks assigned such long odds to the highly unlikely prospect of a first Super Bowl win. The odds seemed generous when starter Drew Bledsoe – working in the first of ten-year, $103-million contract, sustained a life-threatening sheered blood vessel in his chest in the second game of the season against the new York Jets.
Brady led the Patriots to the playoffs – though Bledsoe replaced him in the AFC Championship Game after he was injured – and helped lead the Patriots to the Super Bowl for the third time with a 24-17 win over the Steelers.
Brady returned for a highly unlikely 20-17 Super Bowl win over the juggernaut Rams – St. Louis was a 14-point favorite - as Adam Vinatieri kicked the winning 48-yard field goal on the final play. Brady won his Super Bowl MVP award and with Belichick, the rest, was, and is in the moment, history.
A better rematch would be if both teams had to use the same players who played in that Super Bowl. Rams have to start Torry Holt, Marshall Faulk, and Kurt Warner, Pats have to play Troy Brown, Antowain Smith, and whoever our QB was in 2001. https://t.co/qhKYCgfWcB— Manny Veiga (@zmveiga) January 16, 2019
3. 1981 San Francisco 49ers (+5000)
Joe Montana, 25, was in his third NFL season but first as a starter in leading the perennial sad-sack 49ers to a 13-3 regular-season record and 26-21 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl.
He dabbled in legend-building along the way, preserving the season by hitting tight end Dwight Clark for ‘The Catch,’ a 6-yard touchdown pass with 58 seconds left to secure a 28-27 win in the NFC title game triump over Dallas.
The 49ers’ tenure as long shots in the age of MTV ended as they won four more Super Bowls through 1994.
Super Bowl champions with odds longer than +1000
2017 Philadelphia Eagles (+4000)
1982 Washington Redskins (+3500)
1980 Oakland Raiders (+3500)
2007 New York Giants (+3000)
2000 Baltimore Ravens (+2200)
2011 New York Giants (+2200)
2009 New Orleans Saints (+2000)
2012 Baltimore Ravens (+1800)
2008 Pittsburgh Steelers (+1800)
1978 Pittsburgh Steelers (+1500)
2003 New England Patriots (+1500)
1983 Los Angeles Raiders (+1200)
1986 New York Giants (+1200)
2005 Pittsburgh Steelers (+1200)
1975 Dallas Cowboys (+1200)
2010 Green Bay Packers (+1100)
1997 Denver Broncos (+1000)
1992 Dallas Cowboys (+1000)
1991 Washington Redskins (+1000)
1987 Washington Redskins (+1000)
1985 Chicago Bears (+1000)Of the suitors remaining for Super Bowl LIII, the Rams (+1800) and Saints (+1600) would also make the list. The Patriots opened at +500.