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Superbowl Scoring

After enjoying a well-contested Superbowl that seemed to appropriately represent the teams, the season, and the league in terms of the level of play and competitiveness, I started wondering about how the big game compares to regular season play.  I wondered if teams performed better or worse, on average, given the pressure and scrutiny of the championship game.

I thought a simple place to start examining this question would be to look at Superbowl scoring versus regular season scoring.  Below is a chart showing the difference (Superbowl Score – Average Regular Season Score) for all 46 Superbowls.

At the far right, we see the results of Superbowl 46:  Giants 21, Patriots 17.  The league average in scoring this years was 22 points per game, so the difference here is 38 – 44 = -6.

It seems as though it is more common for more points to be scored in the Superbowl than in an average regular season game.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of stories one could tell about why that might be so:  better teams (and therefore better offenses) make it to the Superbowl; defenses are more susceptible to pressures of the big game; the extra preparation time gives offensive coordinators and advantage.

So how could we more rigorously explore the quantitative characteristics of the Superbowl?

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