Final Thoughts on Super Bowl 50 and Some Random Numbers

Peyton Manning looks to cap his 18th season with his second Super Bowl win. (Photo Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

Since all the hype about Super Bowl Sunday is well beyond its peak, how about some random, so-called-useless factoids about the big game that even the “experts” aren’t giving you? We know who is playing, the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos. We know the quarterbacks, the celebrities, the awards, the team hotels, you name it. So without further ado, here are some random, final thoughts about this 50th Super Bowl:

White is Right

Perhaps the Denver Broncos were going for more than just good karma when making their jersey selections. By choosing white, they are looking to become the 11th team in 12 years to win wearing their roadies in the Super Bowl. They are the second team in that span to choose white despite being the designated home team, joining the victorious 2005 Steelers. The Steelers are the only white-clad loser, falling to the Packers in Super Bowl XLV. What’s ironic about that was the Packers, like the ’05 Steelers, were a No. 6 seed who had won three straight road games to reach the Super Bowl. But as the home team, they still went with the colored jerseys, and bucked the trend (at least temporarily) with a 31-25 win. Dating to the 1998 season, when the white-clad Broncos beat Atlanta in Super Bowl XXXIII, teams wearing white are 13-4 in the Super Bowl.

Denver Needs to Avoid (Bad) History

If the Broncos lose, they will unfortunately extend their own record for most Super Bowl losses to six. Peyton Manning is the first quarterback to start multiple Super Bowls with two teams, and is the oldest QB to start a Super Bowl, surpassing his boss, John Elway. Manning could finish his career with some nice symmetry, winning Super Bowls in his ninth and (fittingly) 18th seasons in the NFL. Needless to say, Cam Newton will be a tougher QB matchup than his other victory, which came over Rex Grossman. This is the first Super Bowl featuring two former No. 1 overall draft picks at quarterback. Conversely, a Panthers loss would put them in bad company with only four other franchises to go winless over multiple Super Bowl appearances (Bengals, Eagles, Vikings, Bills).


Eight of the last nine Super Bowl MVPs have been quarterbacks, which is hardly shocking. 28 of the 49 MVPs of the big game have been quarterbacks. Five players have won multiple MVPs, and naturally, they are all quarterbacks. The last non-QB offensive MVP was receiver Hines Ward in 2005, following Deion Branch the year before.

An Unprecedented Run of “Parity”

The NFL already set its own record for most consecutive years with a new Super Bowl champion last year, making is seven in a row. That streak will continue regardless of today’s winner, with either Carolina or Denver representing the eighth Super Bowl champ in as many years. What’s puzzling is that in 12 of the last 13 years, the same three quarterbacks — Manning, Tom Brady, and Ben Roethlisberger — have started for the AFC in the Super Bowl.

28 was Great for New England

How unusual is it for a team to finish a game scoring four touchdowns and no field goals or safeties? Not at all, except in the Super Bowl apparently. Last year, the Patriots’ 28 points marked the first time any Super Bowl team finished with exactly 28. Carolina’s lone other appearance saw them end with 29, a three-point loss to the Patriots in 2004.

Betting Trends (Wait, there’s betting in the NFL?!)

For those of you so inclined to make a wager on the game (how dare you?!), keep recent history in mind. Even if you consider the Patriots a favorite last year (some books listed last year’s game as a pick ’em and a few even had Seattle as a favorite), underdogs have won outright in five of the eight seven Super Bowls. That’s a big turnaround from years prior, when favorites were 31-10 straight up over the first 41 title matches. The biggest straight up win by an underdog in terms of the point spread was the 1968 Jets, who beat the Colts, 16-7, despite being 18-point underdogs. As for the over/under trends, the last three big games have gone over, and five of the last seven. Carolina is favored today by 5.5 points and the over/under is 44.

Going for 18-1

The Panthers are the sixth 15-1 in NFL history (the Patriots went 16-0 in 2007 but are not included in that list). Two have won the Super Bowl (1984 49ers, 1985 Bears), two have lost conference championship games (1998 Vikings, 2004 Steelers) and one lost in the divisional round (2011 Packers). None has ever lost a Super Bowl, although the 2007 Patriots did to finish 18-1.

No. 1 Defense vs. No. 1 Offense, and No. 1 Seeds

There have been six Super Bowl featuring the league’s top scoring offense and top scoring defense from the regular season, and even though Denver finished fourth in scoring defense, it’s worth noting what has happened in similar circumstances. The defensive stalwarts prevailed on six of those occasions, most recently and notably the 2013 Seahawks against the record-setting, 606-point-scoring Broncos offense. The lone exception also happens to be the Broncos, who were blown out, 55-10, by Joe Montana and the 49ers in Super Bowl XXIV. In terms of top seeds facing off, we know by now this is the third straight year both No. 1 seeds will face off in the Super Bowl after it had only happened once (Super Bowl XLIV) in the previous 19 seasons. Since the playoffs expanded in 1990, this is the fifth 1-vs.-1 Super Bowl matchup overall. The NFC team has won four of those games, with the Patriots last year being the lone AFC winner. In Super Bowl history, there have been 11 top-seed matchups, and the NFC team is 8-3. Interestingly, the favorites in those games are also 8-3.

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