Highest Super Bowl Totals And Games That Went Furthest Over The Total

Written By Mo Nuwwarah on February 11, 2022
super bowl over under

When thinking of the betting history of the Super Bowl, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the rich history of big underdog winners. Rightfully so, but Super Bowl over/unders have played a role as well. They offer a different lens from which to examine Super Bowl lore, looking at actual and expected points scored.

TheLines continues its historical look at the Super Bowl with a dive into totals. We already covered the lowest over/unders and games that went furthest under the closing line. This time, we’ll flip that to cover the highest totals and those that went over by the greatest margin.

All lines and totals below via Pro Football Reference. Super Bowl I’s total, if there was one, has been lost to time, so all info applies to Super Bowl II onward.

Super Bowl Totals: General Facts And Stats

Before we fully dive in, here are a few interesting stats to note about the history of the betting total in the football’s biggest game.

  • The over and the under are deadlocked at 27 apiece. That means the Feb. 13 showdown between the Rams and Bengals will break a tie for the time being.
  • The average total is 44.9. The median total is 47. If these numbers look high, remember that the Super Bowl usually takes place either indoors or in pristine weather. The games also feature a disproportionate number of superstar QBs for obvious reasons.
  • The average final score is 46.2, so the magnitude of the overs has come in larger.
  • Every total from Super Bowl IV through Super Bowl XV was below 40.
  • Starting with Super Bowl XXI, every total has been at least 40 with the exception of Super Bowl XXXV between the Giants and Ravens (closing total of 33).

Five Highest Super Bowl Over/Unders

Most people will probably not be surprised to find out each of the five highest Super Bowl totals occurred in the past 15 years. That doesn’t mean these games had a monopoly on high totals, as numbers in the 50s were the norm during the 1990s. That era also featured some of the highest-scoring games, as we’ll see later.

T5. 54.5, SB XLII (Feb. 3, 2008, Patriots Vs. Giants)

We covered this in our look at games that went furthest under the total. Again, league MVP Tom Brady and the high-flying Patriots offense steamrolled the league in their chase for perfection, averaging 36.8 points per game. That ranks second only to 2013 Broncos since the merger.

The Giants did not have an impressive offense, but it seemed likely they would have to put some points on the board through sheer need to pass. How else would they have any prayer of keeping pace? The offense had been clicking too, with 28.2 PPG in the past five, three of those coming against playoff defenses. Their last regular season game had featured a 38-35 shootout loss to these same Pats.

The offenses barely cracked 600 combined yards as the Giants prevailed in a defensive battle, 17-14. The 1972 Dolphins popped their bottles on the final day of the season.

T5. 54.5, SB LV (Feb. 7, 2021, Chiefs Vs. Buccaneers)

The 2020 Kansas City Chiefs put together one of the most impressive seasons in recent memory in defense of their Super Bowl title. Despite facing one of the most difficult schedules in the league, they went 14-1 in games they tried to win and scored just shy of 30 PPG. In the three-year history of Patrick Mahomes starting at QB, the Chiefs had failed to crack 20 just twice.

The Bucs, quarterbacked by Tom Brady, had started slow but caught fire to end the season. They scored 31, 30 and 31 in the three prior playoff games.

A shootout was expected, but the fly in the ointment was cascading injuries on the Chiefs offensive line. Down to just two of their original five starters — and with lynchpin tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz among the sidelined — the Chiefs showed zero ability to block a frenzied Tampa pass rush.

Mahomes spent the entire game running for his life in a 31-9 beating.

3. 55.5, SB LIII (Feb. 3, 2019, Patriots Vs. Rams)

Another one we touched on in the last article. Second-year Rams coach Sean McVay was ravaging the league with his offense, heavy on play-action and versatile personnel packages that didn’t tip the unit’s hand on the play call.

The Patriots sported a fine defense, but another new-age, high-volume attack from the Chiefs had scored a combined 71 on them in two meetings. It looked like Bill Belichick would have to unleash Tom Brady after the veteran had piloted the offense to 34 and 33 points in the previous two Super Bowls.

The game never got within shouting distance of the number as under backers were counting their money by halftime. Brady didn’t find a lot of success against a strong Rams defensive front coordinated by old legend Wade Phillips. But, Belichick completely flummoxed the Rams offense with an ingenious scheme that disguised its looks until seconds before snap, rendering worthless the Rams’ M.O. of basing their play calls on the defense’s look.

Token offense by the Pats proved enough in a 13-3 win.

2. 56.5, SB XLIV (Feb. 7, 2010, Colts Vs. Saints)

Two elite passing offenses met in this game and showed why even solid offensive performances have a tough time clearing these massive numbers near 60. The Saints featured the best passing offense in the league by YPP and average score (31.9 PPG), while the Colts brought league MVP Peyton Manning to bear.

Sure enough, both QBs piled up the stats, combining for more than 600 yards with about 7.4 YPA. They took one combined sack and had one turnover.

However, they couldn’t even get close to the massive 56.5 total. Too many field goals — five total — and each team getting a fourth-down stop inside their own 5 conspired to limit scoring. Even a late pick-six by the Saints only got the score to 31-17, which would prove final.

1. 57, SB LI (Feb. 5, 2017, Patriots Vs. Falcons)

Like the other games on this list, massive scoring was expected when the Patriots and Falcons met. Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan had guided Falcons QB Matt Ryan to a sweep of major offensive awards as the Falcons let the league by miles at 33.8 PPG. Ryan averaged a monster 9.2 YPA.

Like the other games on this list, it looked like an easy under. A one-sided affair developed with the Falcons leading 28-3 late in the third quarter.

Tom Brady, Julian Edelman and the Falcons defense came to the rescue for over bettors. The Patriots scored 25 straight to end the game, including a pair of 2-point conversions. Even one misstep would have likely ended things and sealed the under. Instead, the game went to overtime with the over locked in, and the Pats prevailed in epic fashion for fans and live bettors alike.

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Super Bowls That Finished Furthest Over The Total

T5. 23 Points, SB XXIX (Jan. 25, 1995, Chargers Vs. 49ers)

One of the biggest spreads in Super Bowl history saw the 49ers come in as insanely massive -19 favorites against the upstart Chargers. The AFC was practically the minor leagues at that point, with the NFC having prevailed in 10 straight Super Bowls, the Niners accounting for three of those.

That year’s Niners were powered by their offense, which scored 505 points, nearly 100 better than the next-best team. Their 8.5 YPA passing was as far from the second-place Cowboys as the Cowboys were from the 10th-place Falcons.

Even a high 52 total wasn’t enough.

San Francisco got the scoring started in a hurry with two TDs of 40+ yards in the first quarter. The rout was on but the Chargers offense chipped in with 19 points, plus they got a kickoff return for six. The 49-26 final score remains the highest-scoring in history.

T5. 23 Points, SB XXXVIII (Feb. 1, 2004, Patriots Vs. Panthers)

Neither the Patriots nor the Panthers boasted strong offenses in 2003. Both finished outside the top five in their own conferences in scoring. Neither even ranked in the top half of the league in YPP (Panthers 17th, Patriots 20th).

Thus, the total closed 38, second-lowest in 18 years.

That looked prescient. It took until three minutes remained in the second quarter for anyone to even put something on the scoreboard. Even those points — a Pats TD — only came about because of a Panthers fumble on their own 25.

Then, a fireworks show broke out. The Panthers hit a 39-yard touchdown, the Patriots completed a pass for 52 yards to set up another fast touchdown, and the Panthers even kicked a field goal to end the half despite getting the ball with 23 seconds left.

The fourth quarter played out similarly as the Patriots did just enough for a 32-29 win.

4. 24 Points, SB XXVII (Jan. 31, 1993, Bills Vs. Cowboys)

Buffalo’s attempt to avoid losing a third straight Super Bowl got off to an auspicious start when they got a 16-yard field early for an easy touchdown after a blocked punt. Over bettors got even more good news in the first with a 47-yard touchdown drive by the Cowboys and then another Cowboys defensive TD on Buffalo’s first play from scrimmage.

The teams — both of which already had offenses ranked top-five in YPP — were almost halfway to the total of 45.

An incredible nine Bills turnovers would provide ample short fields for Dallas. The Cowboys didn’t need much help either as they accumulated 408 yards. Even the 52-17 final didn’t quite do the scoring justice as Dallas’ Leon Lett infamously fumbled back a would-be touchdown returning a Bills fumble in the dying minutes.

3. 25 Points, SB XXXVII (Jan. 26, 2003, Raiders Vs. Buccaneers)

Super Bowl XXXVII featured a stark contrast in style. The Buccaneers got it done with defense, with their unit almost 50 points clear of the next-best defense over the course of the season. Their offense ranked just 23rd in YPP. Meanwhile, the Raiders had the second-most efficient offense and turned former journeyman Rich Gannon into MVP.

The Bucs’ defense would win out, but in such a way that produced points. They took advantage of five Raiders turnovers, taking three of them to the house. Another time, they took a punt back to the Raiders 27 for an easy score. The Raiders also got some free points on a blocked punt for six.

It added up to a 48-21 Tampa Bay win in which they cleared the 44 total on their own.

2. 25.5 Points, SB LII (Feb. 4, 2018, Patriots Vs. Eagles)

The total for Super Bowl LII could have been very high. Tom Brady would win MVP leading a high-volume Patriots passing game, and Eagles QB Carson Wentz was an MVP favorite before tearing his ACL late in the season. As it was, Nick Foles played exceptionally well in leading the Eagles to 38 points in the NFC Championship, but few believed he could maintain that level of play against mastermind Belichick.

The market settled on a middling 48.5 total.

Both QBs played pretty much perfectly in the second-highest scoring game in Super Bowl history. They combined for 874 net passing yards and 18-for-30 converting third and fourth downs. Each had one excusable turnover with Brady taking the lone sack on his game-sealing fumble. The Eagles punted in the second quarter and it wound up being the only one in the entire game.

Eagles 41, Patriots 33 to end the abuse of the two bewildered defenses.

1. 29 Points, SB XIII (Jan. 21, 1979, Steelers Vs. Cowboys)

Oddsmakers had a conundrum on their hands when setting the total for Super Bowl XIII. Both the Cowboys and Steelers had elite defenses that led their respective conferences in scoring. But they also had two of the top-three passing games by YPP. Hall of Fame QBs Roger Staubach and Terry Bradshaw (that season’s MVP) certainly led potentially high-scoring offenses.

The market settled on a total of 37, typical for the era’s title games. And both teams nearly cleared that number alone.

Big plays ruled, with the nine touchdowns averaging 26 yards in length. Twice, 14 points lit up the board in a matter of moments. The first time, Dallas took a Bradshaw fumble to the house, which Bradshaw followed with a pass to John Stallworth that he ran for a 75-yard TD. Pittsburgh then broke open the game with touchdowns on back-to-back plays from scrimmage in the fourth thanks to a Dallas fumble on the kickoff in between. They’d win 35-31.

The 66 points stood as a record for 14 years until Super Bowl XXVII.

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Mo Nuwwarah Avatar
Written by
Mo Nuwwarah

Mo Nuwwarah got his start in gambling early, making his first sports bet on his beloved Fab Five against the UNC Tar Heels in the 1993 NCAA tournament. He lost $5 to his dad and got back into sports betting years later during a 15-year run in the poker industry. A 2011 journalism graduate from Nebraska-Omaha, he combines those skills with his love of sports and statistics to help bettors make more informed decisions with a focus on pro football, baseball and basketball.

View all posts by Mo Nuwwarah