Unpopular Opinions

Unpopular Opinions: Huge upsets ... that weren't really upsets

Listen, I don't try to live my life as a contrarian. That's not true -- I kind of do. I spend a lot of time in public houses and taverns, and I have a two-hour commute that allows me to hear a lot of the sports world's most popular opinions. Sometimes, I think it's best to take a look at the other side.

In this space, I'll be articulating a handful of positions that are the opposite of what most people think -- unpopular opinions, if you will -- and explain why, well, my unpopular opinions are right and everyone else is wrong.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Philadelphia Eagles are your Super Bowl champions. This might take some getting used to. Like eating a cheeseburger with the cheese melted right in the middle of the patty (the Jucy Lucy at Matt's). But now that it's happened, you are pretty happy that you made the trip out to Minnesota for the experience. Of both.

Moments after the green-and-black confetti finished raining from the sky -- I'm still fishing some out of my pockets -- there was talk about where this ranked as an all-time upset. Not just in sports. But the world! Few thought the Eagles were going to win. But we should have. Philadelphia was a solid team that crushed it in a 13-win season to take the top seed in the NFC. The Eagles embarrassed the hometown Vikings so bad they drew heel heat all over Minneapolis last week, causing New England to seem like the sympathetic team.

Yeah, the Eagles started Nick Foles, a guy who nearly retired a couple years back and was destined for a life of being in those car rental commercials where he holds up his college jersey and then tries to sell somebody a damage waiver. But still, in the immediate aftermath, this doesn't seem like an upset -- and I feel like history is going to be with me on this notion.

With that in mind, let's take a look at some memorable upsets ... that actually weren't really upsets at all under closer inspection.

Now, I'm not saying these are the biggest upsets in the history of humankind. Although I'm sure you've already flamed me in the comments with your "Where is the Miracle on Ice?!!" take. But that's not what we are doing here. These are upsets that might have been upsets at the time, but in hindsight, we should have seen them coming.

Let's start with a couple examples from the NFL -- you know, the league I'm paid to cover:

As you're combing through many thinkpieces this week about how this could be the end of the Patriots dynasty, many thought the same thing about these same Patriots after this monster upset loss. The Giants did kind of take away the flukiness with a win in the rematch four years later. It's easy to look back on this Giants team and see how Big Blue got it done. And really, the true upset might be that Eli Manning's best Super Bowl performance didn't actually occur until his "Dirty Dancing" commercial with Odell Beckham Jr.

New England Patriots over St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI

A franchise quarterback is injured, and his frail-looking backup has to come in and save the day. Well, you can't blame people in New England if they long for the original much more than they liked the reboot. Have you already run out of ideas, Hollywood? Me? I just think it's nice to remember a time when people pulled for the Patriots. (Minnesota partisans this week notwithstanding.)

But this phenomenon is certainly not unique to the NFL -- we see notable instances across all forms of sports and entertainment. Here are a few, in no particular order:

Arizona Diamondbacks over New York Yankees in the 2001 World Series

Speaking of another Cinderella story nobody thought possible ... The Yankees had racked up three consecutive World Series titles and kinda had America behind them for the first time since, well, probably ever. The Diamondbacks foiled it. But it seems like people's desire to see the Yankees win (seriously, this feels weird to even type) overshadowed the fact this was a really good Arizona team, especially considering it boasted two of the most dominant pitchers of the era: Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. And this was pre-insufferable, blood-sock Schilling. (And that sock wasn't faked at all. So don't bring that up.)

Holly Holm over Ronda Rousey

Rousey had lapped the competition so hard, many were considering whether she could beat Floyd Mayweather. And then this match happened. She didn't make it through the first round against Amanda Nunes in her follow-up. And hey look, now she's poised to face Charlotte Flair (or Stephanie McMahon) at WrestleMania.

Brock Lesnar over The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXX

You'd be disappointed if I didn't include this, so shut up. Brock ate a bunch of humiliations in the lead-up to this match, which would mean he was going over. But you never expected any scenario where Brock was going to break the streak. I remember being there in the building -- even the ring announcer was afraid to make the announcement because it seemed like a mistake. It wasn't. And in the years after the match, Brock has been booked as a nearly unbeatable champion we see only a few times a year. Mostly to lose to Goldberg, but still.

Duke over UNLV in the 1991 Final Four

This one still haunts me. The 1990-91 Rebels were the best team in college hoops history, and don't you dare @ me. Coming off a 190-point drubbing of the Blue Devils in the championship game the previous season (or at least it seemed that way), nobody gave Duke much of a chance in this rematch. But the NCAA selection committee had Duke and UNLV lined up to meet in the semifinal round, which meant Mike Krzyrtkfgjmncvktykrtudfmhgski had extra time to develop a game plan, and the Rebels to laugh at the thought of the Blue Devils beating them. Yeah, I still don't want to talk about this. This still should have never happened.

Florida over Ohio State in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game

Ohio State and Michigan were both undefeated headed into their annual showdown, and the Buckeyes were basically crowned national champions after knocking off the Wolverines. Ted Ginn Jr. returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and, shoot, why even bother playing the rest of the game? Well, Ohio State didn't. Florida ended up winning 41-14. Michigan was smoked by USC in the Rose Bowl. And I don't know, guys ... This seems weird, but the Big Ten might have been overrated here.

The Rebels over the Empire in the Battle of Yavin

I mean, even when you consider the Rebels had a Force-sensitive pilot who could bullseye womp rats in his T-16 Skyhopper, it was still an incredible stroke of luck he was able to nail a shot into an exhaust port that had been left exposed by some mindless contractor who ran out of sheet metal to cover it. But by now, you've seen "Rogue One" and know this design flaw was cleverly built in by a saboteur. The Empire never stood a chance.

Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson

Listen, I love Mike Tyson. I still have a copy of "Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!," for (expletive) sake. But Tyson really was a mythical creature. His vicious knockouts became the stuff of legend. And shadowed the fact he was a flawed fighter who was rarely challenged. He was vulnerable to bigger, athletic fighters. And one night in Tokyo, he ran into one who had something to prove and the cheat code to take down "The Baddest Man on the Planet." All that said, I love "Mike Tyson Mysteries" on Adult Swim.

"Rocky" winning Best Picture in the 1977 Academy Awards

An underdog story about a Philadelphia hero wins the Oscar over "All the President's Men" and "Network" to shock the world. "Rocky" would spawn a dynasty and one of the most beloved movie franchises of all time. Can these underdog Eagles do the same?

Follow Adam Rank on Twitter @AdamRank.

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