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Forget the Spread, is there really a sure bet on the most important game of the year?

This Sunday the Super Bowl attracts more bets than any other single sports event worldwide. Like any game, the spread is used to guide a lot of fans' decisions, but historically what has that meant for the result?

About $98.9 million was estimated to be wagered on Super Bowl XLVII in 2013 in the Nevada books alone, and doubtless many of them were guided by the four point spread granted to San Francisco. That game might have been an example of one of the most realistic prognostications to be made leading into the Super Bowl. With the Super Bowl entering its 48th running, there have been cases where the odds makers grossly overestimated the spread in favour of one team, or on the other hand were completely unprepared for the blowout to come. So read on and see whether you really believe that America's greatest sporting event can be predicted at all. Here are some examples that are spot on, and the ones that were way, way off.

Not out of their League -- Minnesota Vikings vs. Kansas City Chiefs (Super Bowl IV)

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via sportsthenandnow.com

Otis Taylor and the Chiefs proved that the AFL was no fluke, and that the same mistake could be made two years in a row.

Time and Location: 11 Jan. 1970 Tulane Stadium, New Orleans

Spread: Vikings (-12)

Actual result: KC 23-Minn. 7

Background: After the first two Super Bowls and the Packers' lopsided victories in both of them, there was a general attitude that perhaps the AFL was not at the talent level needed to compete with teams like Green Bay, as even legendary coach Vince Lombardi said. The spreads of the first three title games were 14, 13.5, and 18 respectively. Everyone has heard countless times about Joe Namath and his famous guarantee of an underdog Jets' victory against Baltimore in Super Bowl III. In the years since, it becomes obvious that the media simply was ignorant of a lot of AFL rosters. Also, the Colts had genuinely earned their favourite status by going 13-1 in the NFL. Also, the teams had never even once met in a non-title game, making the comparison tenuous between both leagues. Odds makers ignored a couple of factors when it came to Super Bowl IV, among them agreeing that the Jets victory was a fluke.

The Favorite: The Vikings under coach Bud Grant had demolished teams like Chicago, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh and had a point differential of 379-133 on their side in the regular season. They also won all of their divisional games in outdoor weather against the old black-and-blue NFL Century Division. In the playoffs they beat the LA Rams and Cleveland at Metropolitan Stadium. These were all worthy accomplishments, but the Vikes were known as a team that played up their home field advantage immensely. Their record on the road was 5-2, including an impressive victory at LA, but also a baffling 10-6 loss at Atlanta in the last game. Minnesota featured the physical QB Joe Kapp, running back David Osborn, and the Purple People Eater Defense.

The Underdog: Hank Stram's Chiefs, on the other hand, were hobbled by the injury of QB Len Dawson early in the season. There was also a perception that the Chiefs were not just inferior to the NFL teams, but to their big rivals the Oakland Raiders, who won both regular season meetings that year. The fact that the Raiders won by a combined score of 7 points was not noted. In the playoffs KC proved its worth by upending both the Jets and Raiders, the two previous AFL champs. Leading up to the game, Dawson was embroiled in a gambling investigation.

The Game: Playing in warm weather, it became clear that the Vikings did not have nearly the amount of advantage that they had had while dominating teams at the Met. The Chiefs' head coach Hank Stram also was able to build an adaptive strategy that completely flustered the Vikings' DEs Carl Eller and Jim Marshall. On defense, KC was able to bottle up the Vikings by using their larger linebackers like Curley Culp in a pass rush against the small Minnesota offensive line. By not going for the big play on offense, and eliminating the Vikings running game, Kansas City tired down the NFL champs and led 16-0 at halftime due to three field goals and a sloppy fumbled kickoff that preceded a touchdown. In the second half Minnesota's defense was able to contain Kansas City, but managed only one score, a running TD by Osborn.

Conclusion: Come on, 12 points? Minnesota would be the underdog and loser in three more Super Bowls.

What's better than Perfection? -- Miami Dolphins vs. Washington Redskins (Super Bowl VII)

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via trendsimages.com

Skins RB Larry Brown must have felt it ironic to be favoured against the swarming Dolphins D.

Time and Location: 14 Jan. 1973 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Spread: Redskins (-1)

Actual result: Miami 14-Washington 7

Background: Since the NFL-AFL merger the odds makers had become modest, giving spreads of 3 and 6 points in Super Bowls V (spot on) and VI (wrong by fifteen points) respectively. However, their biases were still evident by the fact that no original AFL team had ever been favoured in the Super Bowl until then.

The Favourite: Washington had made its mark by embracing coach George Allen's passionate leadership based upon hyping up rivalries, using older established veterans, and shooting from the hip, all of which were in contrast to his hated rival Tom Landry of Dallas. He was vindicated when he brought the Skins from the outhouse to the penthouse after two decades of being the NFL's doormat franchise. They could proudly claim that they had the best record in the NFC. They did however lose their only two games against AFC opponents Buffalo and New England, neither of them good teams in 1972. They defeated Green Bay and Dallas in the playoffs to reach the Super Bowl. Washington's main stars were QB Billy Kilmer and WR Charlie Taylor and defensive backs Mike Bass and Pat Fischer. Their advanced average age for starters of 31 earned them the nickname "Over the Hill Gang".

The Underdog: Don Shula entered his third Super Bowl appearance with the best team he had ever coached and a 14-0 regular season record. Miami was far and away the best team in the AFC with QB Bob Griese and running backs Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris all providing a devastating punch weak after week. Miami also had a 385-171 point differential. The Dolphins won close games in the playoffs against Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

The Game: In retrospect it seems baffling that even this modest spread could ever have been justified. Washington's offense creaked and crumbled against the younger and more strategically sound "No-Name Defense" and would not score at all. The only points Washington earned came on what is widely considered one of the epic freak plays in NFL history. A blocked field goal was recovered by Miami kicker Garo Yepremian, who then bizarrely decided to throw a pass that was picked off by Mike Bass and returned to the end zone. This was with only two minutes left on the clock, meaning that until then the Skins had been spinning their wheels in the mud. The game was almost entirely a defensive contest, as Miami gained 253 yards, and Washington gained 228. Miami lineman Manny Fernandez had a staggering 17 tackles, and Washington completed only 14 of 28 passes. The sports books may have been biased due to Shula's prior 0-2 record in the Super Bowl, but should have known better than to show a team with a perfect record as the underdog.

Conclusion: George Allen made a living by motivating his players with the underdog mentality. How ironic that he lost the only major game where the Skins were a favourite due to odds makers' ridiculous logic.

Epic battle of equals -- Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Dallas Cowboys (Super Bowls X and XIII)

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via www.myfootballdvds.com

Terry Bradshaw and the Steelers may have had the Cowboys' number, but in both Super Bowl games wagerers who picked Dallas were able to make out pretty well due to the close final scores.

Time and Location: 18 Jan. 1976 Miami Orange Bowl (X) and 21 Jan. 1979 Mimi Orange Bowl (XIII).

Spreads: Pittsburgh (-7) and (-3.5)

Actual scores: Pittsburgh 21-Dallas 17, Pittsburgh 35-Dallas 31

Background: After their serious misjudgments the previous few years Vegas had correctly favoured Miami and Pittsburgh in Super Bowls VIII and IX. The contest in 1976 pitted two powerhouses against each other and they picked a conservative 7 point spread accordingly. In 1979 they were also juggernauts going into Miami, and the 1970s are widely defined as the Golden Age of football divided between these two franchises, the Raiders, and the Dolphins.

The Favourite: The Steelers had transformed themselves from the NFL's whipping boy into a rounded and formidable steamroller. They possessed an offense led by the bruising running backs Rocky Bleier and Franco Harris as well as QB Terry Bradshaw and his acrobatic wide outs John Stallworth and Lynn Swann. Pittsburgh in 1975 easily won games against Cleveland and Chicago by double digit margins. In 1978 their Steel Curtain defense remained almost unsolvable, featuring Jack Lambert, Mel Blount, LC Greenwood and a host of other future hall of fame inductees. Coach Chuck Noll could be fairly credited with having developed and polished the greatest lineup in football year after year. In 1975 they beat the rejuvenated Colts in the Divisional round before surpassing their conference rivals Oakland in the AFC Championship. In 1978 the Steelers were almost unchallenged in the playoffs, beating Denver 35-10 and Houston 34-5 at home.

The Underdog: Roger Staubach, like Bradshaw, already had a title under his belt going into Super Bowl X, and two going into XIII. Coach Tom Landry was considered one of the most innovative minds since building the Cowboys from an expansion laughingstock into a perennial contender. Dallas was as good as an underdog playing from behind as it was when leading; in 1975 they won the Divisional Playoffs by going on the road and beating the Vikings 17-14 on the legendary Hail Mary play from Staubach to Drew Pearson, before demolishing the Rams in Los Angeles as well 37-7. In 1979 they were fresh off their dominating Super Bowl win against Denver in Super Bowl XII. They went 12-4 and beat Atlanta 27-20 in the divisional round before blanking the Rams 28-0 again at the Coliseum. They featured Staubach's swift receivers Pearson and Golden Richards, running back Tony Dorsett, and the defensive giants Randy White and Ed "Too Tall" Jones.

The Games: Years later these are considered two Super Bowls that helped the NFL become America's most watched league. They were seesaw battles where Pittsburgh grabbed large leads only to see the Cowboys rally in the 4th quarter and make them nail biters. The outcomes hinged on epic plays like Lynn Swann's ballet-style catch in X and Dallas TE Jackie Smith's tragic drop of a TD pass from Staubach in XIII.

Conclusion: When they would finally meet again in Super Bowl XXX Dallas was favoured by an easy 13.5 points and the game proved a clear mismatch. Such an even contest is rarely a given in the Super Bowl, let alone twice in a decade with the same teams as in this instance. Credit the odds makers for this well-stated prediction. Unfortunately, they also goofed up by adjusting the spread from 4.5 to 3.5 on game day in XIII, allowing early Dallas wagerers to win as well as late Steelers bettors.

A Titanic Reversal of Fortunes -- Washington Redskins vs. Los Angeles Raiders (Super Bowl XVIII)

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via static.foxsports.com

The Redskins were pretty pumped up until Marcus Allen's gallop deflated their balloon.

Time and Location: 22 Jan. 1984 Tampa Stadium

Spread: Washington (-3)

Actual Result: Raiders 38-Washington 9

Background: The NFL's elite had changed since the 1970s, and the ones that made it to the big game seemed to get more diverse. The prior Super Bowls had had spreads like Miami (-3), Philadelphia (-3), and San Francisco (-1), none of them overly biased or fantastic. Washington had triumphed over the Raiders 37-35 in Washington during the regular season.

The Favourite: Joe Gibbs and Joe Theismann were justifiably confident going into Tampa. They had the best offense in football and a 541-332 point differential. They had also won handily in Super Bowl XVII behind John Riggins' bulldozing runs and their legendary offensive line "The Hogs". Their receiving corps was led by the great Art Monk. The Redskins also were a dominant team in the tough NFC East, going 7-1 and earning the no. 1 seed with an overall record of 14-2. On defense they had an all time great in rookie CB Darrell Green as well as Dexter Manley on the defensive line. Washington obliterated the Rams in the Divisional Playoffs and eked by San Francisco in the NFC Championship.

The Underdog: Tom Flores had a turbulent season with the Raiders, including early struggles that forced him to bench journeyman QB Jim Plunkett who had already led the team to a title in Super Bowl XVI. They never lost faith though and were able to win the AFC West with a 12-4 record ahead of 9-7 Seattle. Their offense was led by RB Marcus Allen and WR Cliff Branch, but there were plenty of Raider starters who were nameless going into Tampa. In the playoffs they beat Pittsburgh 38-10 in a mismatch that bore little resemblance to their battles of the past, and then dispatched Seattle 30-14.

The Game: Although given a small spread, Washington was the consensus favourite going into the game. They were quickly shown that LA wasn't going to let this game be dictated by The Hogs. They scored early in the first quarter on a blocked punt return, and Cliff Branch scored on a touchdown pass in the second quarter putting the Raiders up 14-0. With 12 seconds left in the half, and down 14-3, Theismann's offense was at their 12 yard line with a first down. Rather than going into the locker room, Gibbs called a play called rocket screen. This almost lateral pass from Theismann was jumped by Raiders LB Jack Squirek who returned it for a defensive TD. The rest of the game showcased just how underrated the Silver and Black were. In the third quarter Riggins scored on a 1 yard run with a missed extra point, but Marcus Allen countered with his own five yard rush for a TD. Then late in the quarter Allen took a hand-off and then avoided tackles when encountering a wall of defenders before reversing field and scoring on a 73 yard gallop, 35-9 LA. A field goal was added later as the Redskins became the second defending Super Bowl champion to be beaten in the title game the following year.

Conclusion: With all due respect to Joey T, the Redskins seriously underestimated the importance of this game, and their defeat showed that . The spread had been off by a combined 30 points, a swing that surpassed the Jets' victory in Super Bowl III by 3 points, although fewer bettors suffered. In 1988 Doug Williams would redeem Washington by propelling them to a victory with a colossal 35 point spread.

Almost-Simms like accuracy -- New York Giants vs. Denver Broncos (Super Bowl XXI)

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via assets.nydailynews.com

In a battle of young gunslingers Phil Simms was correctly predicted as the winner.

Time and Location: 25 Jan. 1987 Rose Bowl, Pasadena.

Spread: NYG (-9.5)

Actual Score: New York 39 - Denver 20

Background: The Super Bowl seemed to have fallen into the twilight zone after the previous example, as the 49ers (-3.5) thumped the Dolphins in 1984 and then there was the then-outrageous 46-10 Chicago (-10) beat down of the Patriots. Going into this game the Giants had actually beaten Denver 19-16 at the Meadowlands in Week 12.

The Favourite: The Giants had been a moribund franchise until Bill Parcells took control in 1982. Using the devastating tackling of Lawrence Taylor and Harry Carson, their defense seemed to constantly terrorize opponent backfields. On offense Phil Simms led a pretty unknown crew that included bruising TE Mark Bavaro. But Parcells had built the team around performance, not flashiness, and they compiled a 14-2 record while leading the league in defense-points allowed. In the playoffs they delivered a stunning 49-3 bashing of the Niners and then shut out Washington 17-0. The Giants certainly earned their number 1 seed in the NFC.

The Underdog: Dan Reeves and John Elway were making Denver into a contender again since Elway was drafted in 1983. Their receiving corps included the solid Vance Johnson and rookie Mark Jackson, along with rookie TE Orson Mobley. Steve Sewell and Sammy Winder were their running backs. On defense they were not the soundest bunch, and were led by veteran LB Tom Jackson who by that point was near retirement and had been in the league since 1976. Denver managed to earn an 11-5 record and went on to face New England in the Divisional Playoffs at home, beating them 22-17. This set up their legendary battle on January 11 in Cleveland against the conference leading Browns. Elway led them on the epic 99 yard comeback known as "The Drive" that tied the game 20-20 on an Elway to Mark Jackson pass, before they won it in overtime on a field goal. The upset now pitted Elway against Simms in a much anticipated match-up.

The Game: Although Elway may have pulled out a Houdini-like performance in Cleveland, this time the Broncos seemed incapable of executing in the red zone, at one point getting stopped at the 1 yard line. By contrast, Simms completed 22 of 25 including scoring strikes to Bavaro and Phil McConkey. Elway recorded a 47 yard TD pass to Vance Johnson with a little more than two minutes left, but by then the game was solidly in hand for Parcells.

Conclusion: In a battle of two teams that had not been to the big game before, it seemed prior to the Super Bowl that Vegas' prediction of an almost ten-point Giant win was unusually lopsided. This was a rare instance in which game looked the same on the field as it had been on paper.

Lett it Rain -- Dallas Cowboys vs. Buffalo Bills (Super Bowl XXVII)

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via i.cdn.turner.com

Leon Lett might have had a gaffe on a return late in this game, but his defensive plays like a forced fumble sealed one of the most lopsided Super Bowls in history.

Time and Location: 31 Jan. 1993 Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California

Spread: Dallas (-6.5)

Actual score: Dallas 52-Buffalo 17

Background: Several intriguing match-ups prior to this installment turned into complete one-sided affairs, such as Washington 42-Denver 10 (XXII) and San Francisco 55-Denver 10 (XXIV). In Super Bowl XXV the Giants eked out a slim victory over the favoured Bills (-7) due to a last-minute missed field goal, and the following year Washington (-7) easily beat Buffalo 37-24.

The Favourite: Dallas had been in dire straits in 1989 during Jimmy Johnson's first pro season having gone 1-15, but through the Herschel Walker trade were able to obtain some major draft picks like RB Emmitt Smith. Johnson's tactics were to build the team mostly through the draft, in which he brought in not only Smith, but fellow triplets QB Troy Aikman and WR Michael Irvin. Other major pieces on offense were FB Daryl Johnston and WR Alvin Harper. On defense they featured free agent DE Charles Haley, a fearsome two time Super Bowl champion with the 49ers, as well as DT Leon Lett and safeties Ken Norton and Kenneth Gant. During the 1992 season Dallas started off hot by knocking off defending champion Washington, and racked up a 13-3 record. In the playoffs they avenged past indignities with a 34-10 drubbing of the Eagles and then a 30-20 triumph in San Francisco.

The Underdog: The Bills were for the third consecutive season one of the most formidable teams on either side of the ball. Head coach Marv Levy had taken a franchise that was the worst in the AFC East and propelled it to the top. Levy was able to utilize U of Miami standout QB Jim Kelly, RB Thurman Thomas and receivers Don Beebe and Andre Reed. Together they composed the formidable K-Gun offense. On defense Buffalo boasted one of the greatest pass rushers to ever take the field in Bruce Smith. The Bills had played the previous two years in the big game and lost tragically to the Giants and then catastrophically to Washington. In 1992 Buffalo faced a shrinking advantage as they were threatened by other AFC rivals like Miami and Houston. Similarly, their games that year showed a startling contrast in results. They blew out teams like the Colts (38-0) and Rams (40-7). On the road, however, Buffalo received embarrassing defeats against the Oilers and Raiders. They finished tied with Miami at 11-5, and thus were relegated to a wild card berth against Houston one week after losing to them on the road. In one of the most legendary games in NFL lore, the Bills overcame a 35-3 deficit at home against Warren Moon's club and won in overtime 41-38 behind back-up QB Frank Reich. Fired up by this victory, Levy's team went into Pittsburgh and Miami and defeated both of them on the way to Pasadena.

The Game: Buffalo surged ahead at the beginning with a Thurman Thomas TD run after Steve Tasker blocked a Dallas punt. From there the Bills would find little reason to celebrate as the Cowboys scored on a Jay Novacek reception and a fumble return by Jimmie Jones. Still in the first quarter, Kelly was injured when hit by Ken Norton. At half time the Cowboys led 28-10 on two Irvin scores, and going into the 4th quarter maintained a 34-17 advantage. It was there that Buffalo's wagon fell apart, as Aikman connected to Harper on a 45-yard strike, Smith scored on a run, and Norton returned another fumble. Beyond the scoring, Buffalo seemed to be playing the game in a vortex. The most replayed moment of the game was Leon Lett's botched fumble recovery that was spoiled by Beebe. But in reality, Buffalo suffered a whopping 4 fumbles, 3 recovered by Dallas. Kelly and Frank Reich were each intercepted twice. Lett's blunder only prevented the score from being 59-17.

Conclusion: This was one instance where the spread of less than a touchdown truly did not take into account the disparities between the two contenders. Buffalo's offense was completely flustered by the blistering pass rush and coverage. By contrast, the Buffalo defense was able to contain Aikman and Co. but still gave up big plays to his receivers Irvin, Harper, and Novacek. Aikman was sacked only once, a feat he rarely achieved in his career. By contrast Kelly and Reich were sacked four times. There are those who believe that Buffalo's defeats in the big game were due to some curse. In reality, aside from the Giants game, they just faced opponents that were far and away more talented than them. The following year both teams reached Super Bowl XXVIII in Atlanta. The Bills reached an unprecedented fourth consecutive Super Bowl (the first rematch of the previous year's two teams) and Dallas once again beat the Bills 30-13. And in case you didn't know, Lett forced another Thurman Thomas fumble for a touchdown.

Start the Turf Show -- St. Louis Rams vs. Tennessee Titans (Super Bowl XXXIV)

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via slam.canoe.ca

Mike Jones (52) was the difference between a correct spread and overtime.

Time and Location: 30 Jan. 2000 Georgia Dome, Atlanta

Spread: St. Louis (-7)

Actual score: St. Louis 24-Tennessee 17

The Favourite: It's safe to say that the Rams were the only people not surprised to be in the mix for the championship. They had moved in 1995, gone through an agonizing first two seasons under coach Dick Vermeil and suffered the embarrassing Lawrence Phillips saga. During the preseason QB Trent Green was injured leaving the offense to be led by unproven journeyman Kurt Warner and RB Marshall Faulk. Little did the world know but those two along with WRs Torry Holt, Ricky Proehl, and Isaac Bruce would propel them to the best points offense in football. They also had the fourth ranked defense although they were not known for flashy plays. With their talents as of yet unknown, the Rams stunned the doubters by jumping out to a 6-0 record by blowing out both the 49ers and the Falcons. St. Louis would in fact finish the season perfect in the division and only lost against Detroit, Philadelphia and Tennessee. In the playoffs the Rams won a scoring contest with Minnesota 49-37 and then a defensive contest against Tampa 11-6 in the NFC Championship.

The Underdog: Like the Rams this franchise had moved in 1997 from Houston, but they had a much more stable path from there on by retaining coach Jeff Fisher. The Titans were guided by QB Steve McNair, a solid and underrated passer, RB Eddie George and WR Kevin Dyson on offense. DE Jevon Kearse (Defensive Rookie of the Year) and safety Blaine Bishop were the most notable defensive players. In 1999 the Titans went 13-3 but were still regarded as the second team in the AFC Central behind surprising Jacksonville and Mark Brunell. But Tennessee was able to deliver the Jaguars only two defeats on the season, including a 41-14 blowout in Week 16. They also beat St. Louis in Week 8 at home. In the playoffs Tennessee won the wildcard game 22-16 with the controversial Music City Miracle touchdown play over Buffalo. Eddie George then guided them past the young Peyton Manning and the Colts 19-16 with a 162 yard rushing performance. Then in a turnover-plagued AFC Championship Tennessee triumphed 33-14 in Jacksonville.

The Game: In a match-up of two teams that had no Super Bowl experience, St. Louis's electrifying offense was seen as the greatest advantage, but the first half saw the two teams struggling to move the ball and the Rams ahead 9-0. In the third quarter they extended the lead to 16-0 on a 9 yard pass from Warner to Holt. Tennessee responded with two short runs for touchdowns by George. Al Del Greco kicked a field goal with 6:17 left to tie the score. With 2:12 left to play Warner finally unloaded to Isaac Bruce for a 73 yard touchdown. McNair began the next drive from the Titans' 12 yard line, but was able to use short passes and scrambling to get the ball down to the St. Louis 10 with five seconds left. He then rolled out to pass finding Kevin Dyson in the middle of the field. Dyson was stopped at the 1 yard line with no time left by one of the best open field tackles in history by LB Mike Jones.

Conclusion: "The Tackle" prevented the first overtime in Super Bowl history. Vegas odds makers correctly showed that the Rams-Titans contest in the regular season had shown them to be fairly equal teams, but it is baffling how they were able to predict the exact margin of victory with so many unknowns involved.

The Bully Blowout -- Baltimore Ravens vs. New York Giants (Super Bowl XXXV)

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via unclepopov.files.wordpress.com

Jamie Sharper (55) didn't take much pity on Kerry Collins (5).

Time and Location: 28 Jan. 2001 Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida

Spread: Baltimore (-3)

Actual Score: Baltimore 34-NYG 7

The Favourite: The Ravens had built their team around a brutal defensive scheme centered around LB Ray Lewis and had a number of other notable leaders like lineman Tony Siragusa. Coach Brian Billick designed the offense to be conservative, and it was led by the unheralded QB Trent Dilfer, rookie RB Jamal Lewis, and WRs Qadry Ismail. and Jermaine Lewis. The Ravens started off the season with a 16-0 embarrassment of the Steelers in their home opener. Baltimore would shut out Cleveland (12-0), Cincinnati (37-0) and Dallas (27-0) that season. Nevertheless, they lost a crucial Week 8 game at Tennessee 14-6 at home and finished second in the division with a 12-4 record behind the Titans' 13-3. As the best wild card team they hosted Denver and won 21-3, then journeyed to Tennessee and won 24-10 before beating Oakland on the road in the AFC Championship.

The Underdog: The Giants had rebuilt after an awful 90s as Dallas and Washington both faded. Under the cebreral coach Jim Fassel their offense was directed by the deep thinking QB Kerry Collins, RB Tiki Barber, and WRs Ike Hilliard and Amani Toomer. Their defense featured DE Michael Strahan, and corner Jason Sehorn and Pro Bowl LB Jesse Armstead. Like the Ravens New York finished 12-4, but they won the NFC East ahead of the Eagles and in fact swept Philly in two easy contests that gave them the division crown. In the playoffs they were once again pitted against Philadelphia, and dispatched them 20-10, while in the NFC Championship they devoured the Vikings 41-0.

The Game: Anyone who wanted to see a close competitive game was sorely disappointed that evening as Collins and the Giants offense only gained 152 total yards. Instead of the calm performances of the regular season, the G-Men gave up five turnovers, four on Collins interceptions after he had thrown only 13 in the regular season. Their only points came on a Ron Dixon kickoff return for a touchdown that was quickly negated by Jermaine Lewis's own kickoff return for a TD on the next play. Dilfer might have had an unimpressive 153 yards passing but they included his deceptive 38-yard TD pass to the little used Brandon Stokley. On defense the Giants combined for three sacks by Strahan and Cornelius Griffin, but could force no turnovers. The Ravens comfortably beat the Giants 34-7. In similar fashion to Super Bowl VII (see above), the loser's only points came on a return play.

Conclusion: In retrospect, everybody knows that Baltimore had one of football's truly magical defensive teams in 2001. However, the odds makers missed the margin of victory by an amazing 27 points. To be fair, the over-under for the game was 33, tied for the lowest predicted points score in game history and not seen since the run-happy 1970s.

That's it for this review of some Super Bowl spread outcomes. Maybe you have a better example? I didn't have time to go over the two New England-New York Giants games, but those were both obvious upsets And no, I don't expect the odds makers to be perfect.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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