Professional football has been around for over 100 years, but the National Football League as we know it today didn’t start until 1966, when the NFL agreed to merge with the American Football League. One of the conditions of the merger: the creation of the Super Bowl.

At first, people wondered whether the AFL teams could keep up with the old guard. Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers easily won the first two Super Bowls (then called the AFL-NFL Championship Game) as big favorites. Football’s biggest spectacle needed more drama, more excitement.

The popular quarterback with the matinee-idol charisma guaranteed his New York Jets would beat the Baltimore Colts at Super Bowl III, even though the Colts were massive 18-point favorites. Namath delivered: New York won 16-7, and the Super Bowl was on its way to superstardom.

Super Bowl in the 70’s

By 1970, the merger was complete and the 10 AFL teams (plus three from the NFL) were placed in the newly minted American Football Conference (AFC). The remaining 13 NFL teams formed the National Football Conference (NFC). Among the three crossover teams: the Pittsburgh Steelers, who would go on to win four Super Bowls in the 1970s with Terry Bradshaw at quarterback.

The Dallas Cowboys, aka America’s Team, would be Pittsburgh’s most important rival during the ‘70s. These two teams met at Super Bowl X and Super Bowl XIII, with Pittsburgh winning both times. But the Cowboys still managed to win two other Super Bowls during the decade. To this day, Dallas and Pittsburgh are tied for the most Super Bowl appearances with eight apiece.

Super Bowl in the 80’s

The 1980s, however, belonged to the San Francisco 49ers. The combination of QB Joe Montana and WE Jerry Rice led the 49ers to four Super Bowls, including an amazing 20-16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals (+7) at Super Bowl XXIII. This game was voted the top Super Bowl of all-time on NFL.com.

The Niners couldn’t win them all, though. In 1985, the Chicago Bears became a national phenomenon with head coach Mike Ditka, QB Jim McMahon, RB Walter Payton, and a 340-pound rookie defensive tackle named William “The Refrigerator” Perry. This unlikely collection of stars and misfits went on to an easy 46-10 win over the New England Patriots (+10) at Super Bowl XX. If that weren’t enough, their novelty hit “Super Bowl Shuffle” reached No. 41 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Super Bowl in the 90’s and Beyond

The ‘90s saw the resurgence of the Cowboys; they won three Super Bowls in four years, including a 27-17 win over the Steelers (+13.5) at Super Bowl XXX. But the biggest game of the decade was Super Bowl XXXII, where John Elway finally led the Denver Broncos to the Promised Land with a 31-24 upset victory over the defending champions, Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers (–11).

The increase in parity in the NFL saw seven different teams win the Super Bowl in the 2000s, but the New England Patriots were the closest thing the NFL had to a dynasty, winning three championships in four years. The first was the sweetest, an improbable 20-17 win over the St. Louis Rams (–14) that made Tom Brady an international star.

Brady then lost his next two Super Bowl appearances to the underdog New York Giants, both on last-minute touchdowns, before bouncing back to win Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 over the Seattle Seahawks? Can Brady and the Patriots win another one? Stay tuned.

Previous Super Bowl Betting Results

# Score Line (Total) Result
L DEN 24 – CAR 10 CAR -4.5 (43) Dog-Un
XLIX NE 24 – SEA 20 NE -1.5 (47) Fave-Ov
XLVIII SEA 43 – DEN 8 DEN -2.5 (48) Dog-Ov
XLVII BAL 34 – SF 31 SF -4.5 (48) Dog-Ov
XLVI NYG 21 – NE 17 NE -2.5 (53) Dog-Un
XLV GB 31 – PIT 25 GB -3 (45) Fave-Ov
XLIV NO 31 – IND 17 IND -5 (57) Dog-Un
XLIII PIT 27 – ARI 23 PIT -7 (46) Dog-Ov
XLII NYG 17 – NE 14 NE -12 (55) Dog-Un
XLI IND 29 – CHI 17 IND -7 (47) Fave-Un
XL PIT 21 – SEA 10 PIT -4 (47) Fave-Un
XXIX NE 24 – PHI 21 NE -7 (46.5) Dog-Un
XXXVIII NE 32 – CAR 29 NE -7 (37.5) Dog-Ov
XXXVII TB 48 – OAK 21 OAK -4 (44) Dog-Ov
XXXVI NE 20 – STL 17 STL -14 (53) Dog-Un
XXXV BAL 34 – NYG 7 BAL -3 (33) Fave-Ov
XXXIV STL 23 – TEN 16 STL -7 (45) Push-Un
XXXIII DEN 34 – ATL 19 DEN -7.5 (52.5) Fave-Ov
XXXII DEN 31 – GB 24 GB -11 (49) Dog-Ov
XXXI GB 35 – NE 21 GB -14 (49) Push-Ov
XXX DAL 27 – PIT 17 DAL -13.5 (51) Dog-Un
XXIX SF 49 – SD 26 SF -18.5 Fave-Ov
XXVIII DAL 30 – BUF 13 DAL -10.5 (50.5) Fave-Un
XXVII DAL 52 – BUF 17 DAL -6.5 (44.5) Fave-Ov
XXVI WAS 37 – BUF 24 WAS -7 (49) Fave-Ov
XXV NYG 20 – BUF 19 BUF -7 (40.5) Dog-Un
XXIV SF 55 – DEN 10 SF -12 (48) Fave-Ov
XXIII SF 20 – CIN 16 SF -7 (48) Dog-Un
XXII WAS 42 – DEN 10 DEN -3 (47) Dog-Ov
XXI NYG 39 – DEN 20 NYG -9.5 (40) Fave-Ov
XX CHI 46 – NE 10 CHI -10 (37.5) Fave-Ov
XIX SF 38 – MIA 16 SF -3.5 Fave-Ov
XVIII LA 38 – WAS 9 WAS -3 (48) Fave-Un
XVII WAS 27 – MIA 17 MIA -3 (36.5) Dog-Ov
XVI SF 26 – CIN 21 SF -1 (48) Fave-Un
XV OAK 27 – PHI 10 PHI -3 (37.5) Dog-Un
XIV PIT 31 – LA 19 PIT -10.5 (36) Fave-Ov
XIII PIT 35 – DAL 31 PIT -3.5 (37) Fave-Ov
XII DAL 27 – DEN 10 DAL -6 (39) Fave-Un
XI OAK 34 – MIN14 OAK -4 (38) Fave-Ov
X PIT 21 – DAL 17 PIT -7 (36) Dog-Ov
IX PIT 16 – MIN 6 PIT -3 (33) Fave-Un
VIII MIA 24 – MIN 7 MIA -6.5 (33) Fave-Un
VII MIA 14 – WAS 7 MIA -1 (33) Fave-Un
VI DAL 24 – MIA 3 DAL -6 (34) Fave-Un
V BAL 16 – DAL 13 BAL -2.5 (36) Fave-Un
IV KC 23 – MIN 7 MIN -12 (39) Dog-Un
III NYJ 16 – BAL 7 BAL -18 (40) Dog-Un
II GB 33 – OAK 14 GB -13.5 (43) Fave-Ov
I GB 35 – KC 10 GB-14 (N/A) Fave