Shula’s Dolphins Were Favored In Two-Thirds Of Their Games

  • Don Shula is perhaps best known for his undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins team.
  • Shula was the favorite in over two-thirds of his games throughout his 25-year run with the Dolphins.
  • Betting the Dolphins as road underdogs under Shula covered in 55% of games.

MIAMI - Legendary Dolphins coach Don Shula has passed away at the age of 90. Shula was one of the greatest coaches to ever be involved with the game of football.

There are many news articles paying tribute to Shula, and the staff here at BettingSuperBowl thought that the best way to pay tribute to the winningest NFL head coach in history would be to examine him through the lens of sports betting.

Don Shula was one of the greatest NFL coaches of all time, and the sportsbooks knew it. When Shula was coaching the Dolphins, his team was favored in 69% of their games.

Shula Against The Spread

Don Shula was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins from 1970 all the way to 1995, and in that time he was involved in over 400 games of football.

Shula’s overall record against the spread during those years was 216-192-17, which is a very respectable record, but it becomes more impressive given context:

Shula’s Dolphins were favored in 293 of the games they played during this time, which is astonishing. A team being that favored, that often, with that level of success against the spread is unheard of.

The numbers get crazier the more they’re examined, however.

For example, from the moment Shula arrived in Miami in 1970 until the end of the 1974 season, the Dolphins played in 81 games, counting the playoffs.

In those 81 games, they either covered the spread or achieved a push 54 times - more than 60% of the time!

They were home underdogs only three times in that span, and achieved a 2-1 record in those games, but their record as road underdogs during this time was truly remarkable.

From 1970-1974, the Miami Dolphins under Don Shula were road underdogs only 13 times. They had a 10-2-1 record in those games.

Shula As An Underdog

From a sports betting perspective, perhaps the most impressive aspect of Don Shula’s career was his prowess when counted out.

This is a dramatic statement - there are a lot of impressive aspects of Don Shula’s career - but Shula at his peak was absolutely incredible as an underdog.

From 1970-1995, the Dolphins were home underdogs in only 32 games. Their record in those games? 22-9-1.

Shula was even positive as a road underdog, which is truly amazing. Being a road underdog is the toughest position to be in as far as many NFL bettors are concerned, but Shula handled those situations with aplomb.

From 1970-1995, the Dolphins had a record of 49-36-3 as road underdogs - they were put in the worst possible situation in 88 games, and came out of those games the victors over 55% of the time.

Shula At His Apex

The Miami Dolphins’ 1972 season lives on in the minds of football fans everywhere - the undefeated season that everyone remembers.

In that season, Shula’s Dolphins were favored by an average spread of more than a touchdown, but they still racked up a 13-3-1 record against the spread.

Many regard that season - and the 1973 championship season that followed - as Shula’s apex as a coach, and it seems fair that this article end with an examination of the man at the peak of his powers.

During this two year stretch from 1972-1973, the Dolphins were underdogs only four times - all of them away from home.

They went 4-0 in those games.

Their overall record against the spread in these two seasons is eye popping: 23-8-3 on the spread, despite the fact that for most of this run they were the most famously dominant team in the league, and spreads adjusted accordingly.

The best example of the Dolphins exceeding already impossibly high expectations is their 1973 playoff run.

They played three games in that playoff run - against the Cincinnati Bengals, then the Oakland Raiders, and finally against the Minnesota Vikings in the Super Bowl.

Against the Bengals, the Dolphins were favored by 9.5 points. Against the Raiders, they boasted a 6.5 point spread in their favor. Finally, in the Super Bowl betting line, they were favored by 7.0 points over the Vikings.

Remember - this is the playoffs! It’s not easy to win a Super Bowl! And yet, this team is constantly being favored by around a touchdown or more - no matter who the opponent seems to be.

At some point, someone has to at least get close to them, right?


The Dolphins won all of these games by more than two touchdowns. None of them were even close.

They blew out the Bengals 34-16, they wrecked the Raiders, 27-10, and they vexed the Vikings on the way to a 24-7 victory.

Ultimately, this is the legacy of Don Shula - to have expectations for your greatness to be set at nigh impossible levels, and then to exceed them anyway.

Rest in peace, Coach.

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