At the end of the regular season, we introduced our new metric, Expected Points
, for NFL games using simple box score statistics. This week, we used Expected Points to look at all Super Bowl matchups since the year 2000 and determine whether the final result was warranted, or "lucky", based on the final box score. There were only four Super Bowl upsets when evaluating the final box scores using Expected Points since 2000. The biggest "upset" was the Patriots over the Seahawks just two years ago (36.6%) with their unforgettable interception at the goal line to seal the game. No other upset was below 47.3% odds (i.e. not much different than a coin flip).
2016: Broncos 24 - Panthers 10
The Broncos defense took over last year's Super Bowl, forcing four turnovers. The Broncos rightfully cashed in on their victory as they were 69.1% according to Expected Points.
2015: Patriots 28 - Seahawks 24
The Seahawks were actually expected to win 63.4% of the time by a final score of 28.9 to 22.9. They only needed one yard to win the Super Bowl, but a truly unbelievable sequence of events at the goal (play call + result) ended with Russell Wilson throwing an interception to end the game.
2014: Seahawks 43 - Broncos 8
The Seahawks captured victory the year before by dismantling the Broncos' previously impressive offense. This Super Bowl was one of the highest Expected Points blowouts with the Seahawks winning 96.6% of the time. Simply put, this was an absolute destruction.
2013: Ravens 34 - 49ers 31
The Ravens squeaked out a victory against the 49ers in 2013 as one of the closest Super Bowls on the list. San Francisco actually outgained the Ravens by a hundred yards but turned the ball over twice. The Ravens snuck out with a victory despite having slightly less than a coin flip's chance to win.
2012: Giants 21 - Patriots 17
The Giants snuck by the Patriots in 2012 but dominated the game, for the most part. They gained nearly 400 yards and didn't turn the ball over a single time. A last minute touchdown won the game but they were expected to win 72.6% of the time considering their overall performance. New England was lucky to be leading this game deep into the fourth quarter.
2011: Packers 31 - Steelers 25
The Packers and Steelers played a nail-biter in 2011. The Packers led throughout but the Steelers kept it close, somehow, with three turnovers to the Packers' zero. With an 81.0% chance to win with an average score of approximately 31 to 17, the Packers shouldn't have had to sweat out the victory.
2010: Saints 31 - Colts 17
The Saints' big plays outside of their lethal offense led to their victory. The Saints won by two touchdowns but there was a bit of bad luck on the side of the Colts. Manning threw an unfortunate pick-six trying to lead his team from behind. Additionally, the Saints ran an onside kick out of the half and were able to recover to flip the game on its head. This was the closest Super Bowl, since 2000, per Expected Points but the final score is not indicative of that.
2009: Steelers 27 - Cardinals 23
The year before was the second closest Super Bowl since 2000. The game had a little bit of everything, including possibly the best Super Bowl play in history. James Harrison returned an interception one hundred yards as he dodged defender after defender knowing he needed to score or the half was over. The Steelers came out on top with an incredible throw and catch from Ben Roethlisberger and Santonio Holmes. However, we would have expected the Cardinals to be very small favorites, winning 51.6% of the time. This is one of many Super Bowls over the past 15 years that could have truly gone either way.
2008: Giants 17 - Patriots 14
The Giants, yet again, took down the Patriots in 2008. The Patriots only tallied 274 yards on offense. The Giants held a 65.1% chance to win. This is the third Super Bowl in this list thus far where the final scoreline flatters the Patriots a bit.
2007: Colts 29 - Bears 17
Colts/Bears was actually closer than it should have been, despite a double-digit margin of victory for Indianapolis. There was a total of eight turnovers in the game, five committed by the Bears. The Bears were outgained by nearly 170 yards as well, but benefited from a kickoff return touchdown on the opening possession of the game. In one of the bigger favorites in a Super Bowl, per Expected Points, the Colts were favored at 92.8%.
2006: Steelers 21 - Seahawks 10
In the most controversial Super Bowl of recent history, the Steelers took down the Seahawks by two scores. The Seahawks committed a number of questionable penalties and some would suggest the refs cost them the game. Penalty yards were 70 to 20 in the Steelers favor. Roethlisberger also scored on a touchdown run that was close enough to be called a fumble into the end zone and recovered by Seattle. In the end, the Steelers were still favored at 59.8%, and deserved Super Bowl winners.
2005: Patriots 24 - Eagles 21
The Patriots forced four Eagles' turnovers but weren't able to put them away. They did lead by ten at the end of the fourth quarter and eventually gave up a touchdown to make it 24-21, where it would finish. With the turnovers, the Eagles still outgained the Patriots, but the game wasn't nearly as close as the final score would indicate. New England would have been expected to win this matchup 81.4% of the time.
2004: Patriots 32 - Panthers 29
Patriots/Panthers more closely resembles this year's Super Bowl than any other recent Super Bowl matchup. Both offenses were on fire. The Panthers gained 387 yards and were still nearly outgained by a hundred yards. Somehow, the Patriots needed another game-ending field goal despite being expected to win 66.8% of the time by 32.8 to 24.4.
2003: Buccaneers 48 - Raiders 21
With the lowest total of Expected Points, the Raiders never stood a chance in 2003. The Buccaneers forced five turnovers and dominated in all aspects of this game. The Raiders were actually able to reach 21 points with the bulk of them coming at the end of the game while the Buccaneers held a healthy lead and sat in a prevent defense. This was the biggest blowout of Expected Points since 2000 with the Bucs at 99.0% to win this game based on box score statistics.
2002: Patriots 20 - Rams 17
Tom Brady manufactured another game-winning drive against the Rams where they were nearly two to one favorites again. The Patriots were actually massively outgained by the 'Greatest Show on Turf' but were able to force three turnovers to swing the game in their favor.
2001: Ravens 34 - Giants 7
Similar to the Raiders in 2003, the Giants were dominated in all aspects of the game. They lost the turnover battle five to zero and only gained 152 yards on offense. 152 yards! At the peak of the Ravens' historic defenses, the Giants held a 2.5% chance to win.
2000: Rams 23 - Titans 16
The Rams needed a famous tackle at the one-yard line to save them from an Expected Points upset. The Rams' elite offense was able to gain an impressive 436 yards, but they only managed 23 total points with all of that yardage. They snuck out with a victory by a few feet but had 61.0% odds in their favor.