Super Bowl Winner Stats

Last year I looked at how often teams won playoff games based on their season-long performance in various categories. I basically looked at how predictive various stats are in forecasting playoff wins. For example, how often does the team with the better passing efficiency win? I learned some interesting things such as how important run defense appears to become in the playoffs.

This time around I looked at just Super Bowls. How often does the team with the better season-long performance in each category win the big game? The sample size is very small, but the Super Bowl is a unique game in many ways, so we might learn something.

I only looked at Super Bowls since Super Bowl XV, the 1980 game between the Raiders and Eagles. In 1978, the passing rules changed and significantly altered the sport, but the league did not adjust for another couple years. Yes, this shrinks the sample to just 28 games, but I’m not going for statistical conclusions, just an initial look to see if anything stands out. No fancy regressions this time, just straightforward percentages.

The results are in the table below. You can read it as saying “the team with the better [efficiency stat] won the Super Bowl [x%] of the time.”













StatWin %
O Pass50
O Run57
O Int61
D Pass61
D Run46
D Int54



I’m a little surprised that the team with the better offensive passing efficiency only won 50% of the time. I’d think that would be a fairly solid advantage. Defensive passing looks like it might be the more important category.

Also, defensive run efficiency doesn’t appear to hold the same importance that it has in the playoffs lately. The better run-stopping team only won 46% of the time.

But again, we can’t really draw any conclusions. There are only 28 games in the sample, so a single game swings the percentage by about 3%.

In case you’re curious, the Steelers have the advantage in offensive running and all the defensive categories. The Cardinals have the better offensive passing efficiency and the lower interception rate.

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2 Responses to “Super Bowl Winner Stats”

  1. Mark M says:

    Any way you can find stats to explain the fact that the team with the NFL's passing yardage leader has never won the Superbowl?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Not really much of a mystery there, you lead in passing yardage you are probably throwing the ball a ton, maybe too much. Unbalanced offenses are the easiest to defend.

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