Ranking the biggest NFL upsets in 2021: Lions’ stunner vs. Cardinals joins long list of underdog wins

The 2021 NFL season has been one of the most unpredictable in current reminiscence, and yet one more NFL titan fell in an sudden spot in Week 15.

The Cardinals entered the week with a 10-3 report. They have been touring to Detroit to tackle the Lions, who had a report of 1-11-1 and had simply gained their first recreation in Week 13.

It was a foregone conclusion that the Cardinals would beat the Lions. Arizona entered the week as 13-point favorites regardless of coming off a seven-point loss. The Lions might have an opportunity to cowl that unfold, however certainly they would not give the Cardinals any hassle in a get-right recreation, proper?


Not fairly. Dan Campbell’s workforce was able to play on Sunday and the Lions jumped out to a 3-0 lead after an 8:50 drive to start out the recreation. They by no means relinquished that lead, dominating the Cardinals en path to a 30-12 victory.

The Lions hadn’t scored greater than 30 factors in a recreation since Week 1, and so they had solely scored 20-plus factors twice earlier than their victory over the Cardinals. That made their win all the extra gorgeous.

But was it the biggest upset of the 12 months? You might make a case for it, however there may be nonetheless one notable recreation that outweighs it. Here are the 5 biggest upsets to this point throughout the 2021 NFL season, beginning with one of the biggest upsets in NFL historical past.

IYER: How Cardinals’ loss impacts NFC playoff race


Biggest NFL upsets of 2021

1. Jaguars over Bills (-16)

As spectacular as the Lions’ upset of the Cardinals was, the Jaguars beating the Bills outright as 16-point dwelling underdogs is a little more spectacular as a result of of the quite a few obstacles the Jaguars overcame in that contest.

The Jaguars logged simply 218 complete yards of offense in their 9-6 win over the Bills. They have been with out their prime offensive participant, James Robinson, and have been nonetheless being coached by Urban Meyer, whose disastrous tenure in Jacksonville ended after simply 13 video games.

While the offense did not do too nicely, the Jaguars’ protection confirmed up in a giant approach and gained the turnover battle 3-1 whereas sacking Josh Allen 4 occasions. That led them to their second win of the season, and final of Meyer’s NFL teaching profession to this point.

Considering that the Bills have been favored by extra factors than have been scored in the recreation, that is fairly good for the Jaguars. The victory earned them a bit extra respect — even when they have not gained a recreation since then. After all, they’re the biggest dwelling canine to win a recreation outright in the final decade, per the Action Network.


Biggest NFL Home Dog Upsets — Last Decade

+16: Jaguars over Bills (2021)

+14.5: Bengals over Steelers (2020)

+13: Lions over Cardinals (2021)

— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) December 19, 2021

2. Lions over Cardinals (-13)

Bettors who positioned a Lions +13 ticket had nothing to fret about in Week 15. They demolished the Cardinals and appeared like they need to have been the 13-point favorites.

The Lions’ win over the Cardinals was actually a blowout. Detroit by no means trailed in the recreation and led by not less than 14 factors in the total second half. The Lions have been simply the third workforce to carry the Cardinals to fewer than 23 factors on the season, and one of these video games got here with Colt McCoy at quarterback.

Detroit did not simply beat the Cardinals. They ran roughshod over them. Jared Goff had simply his third, three-touchdown recreation of the 2021 NFL season. And above all else, the Lions befuddled the Cardinals’ offense. Arizona could not transfer the ball constantly and struggled immensely in the pink zone, the place the Lions held them to only one landing in 5 red-zone appearances.

The Lions additionally made historical past, as they’re simply the third workforce since 1970 to beat a workforce with the NFL’s greatest report whereas having the league’s worst report.

The 10-3 Cardinals misplaced to the 1-11-1 Lions

This is the third time since 1970 {that a} workforce w/ the NFL’s worst report beat a workforce w/ the greatest report (incl tied data), min. 8 gms every

The prev. 2 groups to lose — 1995 Cowboys & 2004 Patriots — went on to win Super Bowl that season

— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) December 19, 2021

You might make the case that, as a result of of that stat, the Lions’ victory needs to be at No. 1 as an alternative of the Jaguars. However, we nonetheless give Jacksonville the edge as a result of their unfold was bigger and their teaching was a lot worse. But the Lions’ win is a clear-cut second.

MORE: Jaguars now have management of No. 1 decide in 2021 NFL Draft

3. Jets over Bengals (-11.5)

Remember when Mike White was going to be the Jets’ model of Tom Brady? That was a very good time. That stemmed, largely, from White’s robust efficiency in his first NFL begin towards the Bengals.

White needed to begin towards Cincinnati as a result of Zach Wilson suffered a knee damage towards the Patriots. He wasn’t given an opportunity by anybody, however he led the Jets to a stunning victory by throwing for 405 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. It was a detailed battle — the Jets gained 34-31 — however that was greater than two touchdowns higher than they have been anticipated to do.

White’s star misplaced its luster over the subsequent few video games and he was finally changed by Joe Flacco whereas Wilson was sidelined. Still, White led one of the most memorable upsets of 2021, and he deserves credit score for carrying the Jets’ offense in that contest.

4. Broncos over Cowboys (-10.5)

The Broncos gained this recreation 30-16 nevertheless it was way more dominant than that, actually. Denver led 30-0 in the fourth quarter earlier than permitting Dak Prescott and Co. to notch a pair of garbage-time landing drives.

The Broncos held the Cowboys to simply 290 yards even with the garbage-time manufacturing included. It simply goes to indicate that you simply should not guess towards high-level defenses when they’re massive underdogs.

This recreation additionally performed into the “do not guess towards Teddy Bridgewater” idea. He is 42-20 towards the unfold throughout his profession, so protecting a double-digit unfold is often straightforward for him. In this case, he managed to win outright whereas throwing for 249 yards and a landing. His protection did most of the work, however he did one essential factor to assist them out. He did not flip the ball over.

NFL PLAYOFF PICTURE: AFC, NFC Wild Card races after Week 15

5. Texans over Titans (-10)

There was discuss the Titans being the greatest workforce in the AFC once they confronted the Texans in Week 11. After they misplaced 22-13 as double-digit underdogs, that discuss largely dried up.

The irony is that the Titans largely outplayed the Texans in this contest. They outgained Houston 420-190 and averaged 2.2 yards per play greater than them. So, what went fallacious? The Titans turned the ball over 5 occasions. That took away no matter edge that the Titans had personnel-wise, as they stored gifting the Texans good discipline place and taking away their very own scoring alternatives.

This was an enormous upset, however make no mistake. This recreation wasn’t about the efficiency of the Texans. It was all about the Titans’ struggles. This will stand out as a blemish on Tennessee’s resume, as the Texans have simply three wins on the season. Their different two got here towards the Jaguars.

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