NFL conference championship: the 12 underdogs since 2002
In the last 20 years, 38 conference championships have been played and almost a third of them have been won by the team not favoured in the betting.
If the divisional round in the 2021 season taught us anything, it is that the betting trends are far from a strong guide to what pans out. In the second phase of the postseason, only one of the favourites, Kansas City, made it through to the championship games and in the run-up to the Super Bowl we're far from certain about the results. And this is nothing new.
Since the 2002 campaign, two decades ago, 38 conference finals have been contested and 12 games have gone to the team not favoured by the bookies. The win ratio for the underdogs is 31.5%; that is, almost a third of the games.
Let's remind ourselves of those matches that were won by the underdog:
The winning underdogs in each championship game since 2002:
NFC: a fertile territory for surprises
One of the patterns we note from this is that of those 12 games won by underdogs, eight have come from the National Conference.
More importantly, of those eight clubs, the Giants and the Buccaneers have been crowned their league champions and doubled up. New York beat the Patriots in 2007 and 2011, while Tampa Bay did it in 2003 and 2020.
Another noteworthy fact is that the Eagles and Patriots have been stunned on more than one occasion by being beaten by an underdog. In Philadelphia's case, they were beaten by Buccaneers and Panthers in consecutive years (2002, 2003) and New England in 2012 (Ravens) and 2015 (Broncos).
Who's your money on for the upcoming championship deciders? Are you sure?