My guess is that most of you, by the time you're reading this, have heard something about wild card teams doing well in past Super Bowl appearances. While the media loves these types of storylines, much of the content around wild card team history/performance typically doesn’t make for good sports betting info.
The short answer/advice here is that whatever you do, DON’T LET THESE PAST RESULTS AFFECT YOUR OPINION ON THIS GAME. These wild card teams aren’t correlated at all, and therefore, the "history" behind them shouldn't correlate with your Super Bowl LV bets. What's interesting to note, however, is just how different each of these Super Bowl wild card teams have been this century in getting to the big game.
If we look back to the 2002-03 season (the Bucs won the Super Bowl that year), this is when the modern day four NFL divisions from each conferences started playing with the "wild card" round. So let's take a look at just who these teams were, how they get there, and if there's any similarities between them.
The Bucs are the most recent team to make the Super Bowl as a wild card since the Green Bay Packers did it in the 2010-11 season. The Bucs, entering this year, also had a season win total of 9.5 (-125 to the over) and pre-season Super Bowl LV odds of +1000. Only two teams had better Super Bowl odds than them actually - the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs - and only two other teams were tied for third in the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers. Tampa Bay, in the playoffs, has now beaten the Washington Football Team (#4 seed), the Saints (#2 seed), and the Packers (1 seed). This is the same team that had chemistry questions all year until after its bye week, one week after losing at home to the Chiefs.
Starting with the 2005-2006 Pittsburgh Steelers: this is the first team in the "modern playoff era" to win the Super Bowl as a wild card team when they were the #6 overall seed. That year, the Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals, New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars all had higher seeds than the Steelers. In the playoffs, the Steelers beat the AFC north rival Bengals (#3 seed), the Colts (#1 seed), the Broncos (#2 seed), and then the Seahawks (#1 seed on NFC side). They were 11-5 that year, had a season win total of 9.5 (-150 to the over), pre-season Super Bowl odds of +1200, and Division title pre-season odds of around +140. Entering the "Wild Card Weekend" round, they were +800 to win the Super Bowl, then +1200 in divisional round, and +300 in conference championship round. This team had the 5th best odds coming into the year, with the Colts, Patriots, Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles all having better odds. And I would deem this as a small upset/no upset here. The 5th best odds aren’t spectacular or what I would deem "long" either. Big Ben won it all in his second year as the Steelers franchise quarterback, and a lot of people questioned if he could handle the big moments heading into this Pittsburgh playoff run.
Next up, we have the infamous 2007-08 New York Giants (skip ahead, Patriot fans). The Giants were the #5 seed that year and the Dallas Cowboys, Packers, Seahawks and Bucs all had higher seeds, with the Redskins being the #6 seed. The Giants beat the Bucs (#4 seed), Cowboys (#1 seed), Sleepy’s Packers (#2 seed), and the Patriots (#1 seed on the AFC side). This team, in the pre-season, had a season win total of 8 with -110 to both sides and were +300 to win the NFC East. The Giants also had pre-season Super Bowl odds of +3000 and had +5000 odds entering Wild Card Weekend with only the Redskins and Tennessee Titans having worse odds. They were then +3500 to win it all in the divisional round and +1500 to win it all in the conference championship round. The Giants were all the way down at tied for 15th to win it all with their pre-season odds, and therefore this is the longest "long shot" we've ever had win the Super Bowl.
Lastly, we have Sleepy’s 2010-11 Packers. The Packers were the #6 seed that year. The Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, Eagles, Seahawks, and Saints all had higher seeds. The Packers beat the Eagles (#3 seed), the Falcons (#1 seed), the Bears (#2 seed), and the Steelers (#2 seed AFC side). The Packers had a season win total of 9.5 (over -160) and they and didn’t actually clinch a playoff berth until week 17). They were just -200 favorites to make the playoffs overall. The Packers were also +120 to win the division in late July and -105 right before the season kicked off. Green Bay was also +1100 entering September to win the Super Bowl that year with only three teams being lined higher. At one point, the Packers were as low as +700 that season (Weeks 4, 5, and 12) and were as high as +2800 (Week 16). Green Bay was also +1200 entering the wild card round, +600 in the divisional round, +160 conference championship round, and -145 during the Super Bowl. This is a team that got healthy at the end of the year and went on a nice run.
As you can tell, all four of these wild card teams follow the exact same pattern. All road wins, all had questions at some point in the season, and a lot of people probably didn’t expect them to win it all or to even be there at the end. Once again, past results don’t predict the future. Case in point: if you think the Chiefs win, this article shouldn’t sway you. If you think the Bucs win, then honestly this article shouldn’t sway you either. All four of these teams just "happened," and we'll see if it happens again come Sunday.