Super Bowls are only one single game to cap off each NFL season. Learn how Super Bowl scores have changed over the years. In addition, see how oddsmakers have done in predicting the outcomes.
- [Instructor] 256, 10, and one. That's the number of games that take us to the Super Bowl. 256 regular season NFL games, 10 playoff games, all lead to one single championship game, the Super Bowl, a massive television event and a nationwide party, complete with food, drinks, gambling, and usually, a musical halftime show. At the time of this recording, there had been 52 Super Bowls. Over those 52 seasons, rules have changed, strategies have evolved, players have gotten faster and stronger, and salaries have gone up a lot.
So what can we learn from the small dataset of 52 Super Bowls? Let's first look at scoring. The median score for the winners of the 52 Super Bowls is 30.5 points, for the losers, it's 17 points, and the median margin of victory is 12 points. The averages aren't too far off. 30.4, 16.4, and the average margin of victory, 14 points.
By the way, in comparison to their regular season games, 34 of the 52 Super Bowls ended as above average scoring games for that season, but in the first 10 Super Bowls, eight of the 10 games were below average in scoring. Since then, 32 of the 42 Super Bowls have resulted in above average scores for that season. That might tell us that in the early Super Bowls, elite teams had great defenses, or maybe elite teams just had poor offense.
And since then, because Super Bowls have higher than average scores, perhaps the elite teams require stronger offenses, or maybe defenses just got worse. Let's break up the 52 Super Bowls into four groups of 13. How've things changed over time? Well, if you're an NFL fan, it might seem that in recent years, scoring has become easier than ever. But as far as Super Bowls go, Super Bowls 14 through 26 had the highest scoring winners.
During that 13 year stretch, the winner had a median score of 37. The median margin of victory was a whopping 17 points. That means at least seven of those 13 years the margin of victory was 17 points or more. Meanwhile, for Super Bowls 40 to 52, games have been relatively close, a median margin of victory of only six points, which sort of brings us to why this stuff is important to so many on Super Bowl Sunday, betting on the game.
For each Super Bowl, oddsmakers choose a favorite and establish a point spread. These betting lines created by oddsmakers are designed to entice betters on both sides of each bet. So, how did the oddsmakers do? In 52 Super Bowls, they've picked 51 favorites. Why only 51? Well, in 2014, oddsmakers thought the teams were dead even, so that year there was no favorite. So how'd they do in the other 51 Super Bowls? Favorites have won the Super Bowl 33 times, 64.7% of the time.
18 times, the underdog has won, 35.3%. How about when we consider the point spread? Twice, the game ended with a favorite winning by the exact spread predicted. That's a push. And in the other 49 Super Bowls, the favorite covered the oddsmakers' point spread 26 times. 23 times, the underdog covered the point spread. Those betting on the favorite would've won 51% of their bets.
They would've lost 45% of their bets, and 4% of the time, they would've ended up even. That said, in eight of the last 11 Super Bowls, the underdog would've been the winning bet. There've only been 52 Super Bowls, but even with such a small dataset, getting lost in the numbers can be fun, and if you're a big football fan, you know I'm just scratching the surface. Sharpen your statistics skills, and enjoy your favorite hobbies in ways that you never imagined.
Note: Because this is an ongoing series, viewers will not receive a certificate of completion.