Will The Falcons Upset the Odds & Carry Underdog Torch of Last Year?
Big underdogs cashing in championship events have recently made headlines and the Atlanta Falcons will continue that trend if they defeat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51 considering that they were trading as 100-1 underdogs after week one of the NFL regular season.
Will the Falcons deny Tom Brady a fifth ring? If so, 2017 will continue the trend that developed in 2016.
Dogs Howled in 2016
The Denver Broncos may not have been an overwhelming underdog in February of 2016 when they suited up against the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 but if you were to wager on Peyton Manning’s team in his sunset Super Bowl game you would have gotten a 4 ½ point head start. Ultimately you didn’t need even a point as the Broncos claimed a 24-10 victory and rewarded the faithful with as much as double their investment if they took a shot at the +200 the NFL odds makers were offering on a Denver money line wager.
Leicester City's Miracle Victory
May of 2016 saw the granddaddy of all longshots cash when Leicester City, a cellar-dwelling club clinging to their Premier League status, scored one of the greatest upsets in modern sports when they came out of nowhere to win the Premier League and cost British bookmakers over 25 million at preseason odds of 5000-1.
Cavaliers End 52 Year Drought
The following month, the Cleveland Cavaliers derailed the juggernaut that was the Golden State Warriors and snapped their 52-year championship drought. Despite falling behind 3-1 in the series, causing bookmakers to try to woo some Cleveland money at NBA odds of 14-1, LeBron James proved he was the undisputed king of round-ball and led his team to a 4-3 series victory and brought an NBA title home to the championship-starved fan base.
Cubs End 108 Year Drought
It only seemed fitting then that the Windy City would be the next destination for fame and glory after waiting 108 years for their Cubbies to bring home a World Championship. The Cubs fell behind 3-1 in the World Series to the Cleveland Indians but the bookmakers were cautiously only returning +330 despite the deficit. As everyone knows, the Chicago Cubs overcame the 3-1 series hurdle and forged a World Series title for their supporters who had literally been waiting for generations.
Now we have come full circle and the Atlanta Falcons, though modest three-point underdogs in Super Bowl 51 to New England, were not always such. Atlanta is yet another barren desert in the sports landscape seeking to shed its streak of futility which includes only one trip to the Super Bowl in its 51-year history. That lone appearance manifested in a 24-19 loss to John Elway’s Denver Broncos and since then the franchise has been an also-ran as far as NFC Super Bowl contenders are concerned.
After this season’s edition suffered a Week 1 loss to the Tampa Buccaneers, the NFL odds makers hung a lofty 100-1 tag on the Falcons to win the Super Bowl. Though the odds on the Falcons were long to start the season, and only tightened up down the stretch, it is fair to say not many bettors believed they had a chance to win the Big One. Even if all the future wagers on Atlanta did cash, it would still be favorable to the sportsbooks who took in a landslide of money bet before and during the season on the New England Patriots to claim its fifth Super Bowl in the Brady/Belichick era.
Jason Simbal, CG Technology sportsbook director, revealed that his book took a $5000 bet on the Falcons at odds of 40-1 but he would rather pay that than the deluge of money that poured in on the Patriots. Simball said, “We’d actually do better on the Falcons (winning) than the Patriots. In fact, before the season started, they were the second-least bet team. Only the Titans had less.”
Sunset Station sports director Chuck Esposito concurred with his colleague and stated, “They’re not a real public team. Even after their hot start, there were still a lot of nonbelievers.”