Examining all Super Bowl results, we can observe that there have never been two starting QBs with a combined age as low as the Kansas City Chiefs‘ Patrick Mahomes (27) and the Philadelphia Eagles‘ Jalen Hurts (24) in Super Bowl 57. We’ve analyzed every Super Bowl quarterback since the beginning to determine how age and outcomes might correlate, marrying it with how such information might impact betting decision-making in 2023 and beyond.
Super Bowl QB Age: The Rarity of Twentysomething QBs
Super Bowl 57 marks only the 12th time the NFL title game has featured two starting QBs in their 20s, accounting for merely 21% of contests. In fact, it happened only twice in the first 29 Super Bowls. The first was SB 6 between the Cowboys’ Roger Staubach (29 years old) and the Dolphins’ Bob Griese (26).
It didn’t occur again until SB 19 between the 49ers’ Joe Montana (28) and Dolphins’ Dan Marino (23). Until SB 57, Montana and Marino held the record for the youngest combined Super Bowl QB competitors.
Then circumstances changed a bit, in part because of a youth movement featuring the likes of Troy Aikman, Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, Tom Brady, and Ben Roethlisberger — great quarterbacks on title-contending teams. This led to two twentysomething QBs facing off on six occasions from SB 30 to SB 39.
But it’s happened only four times from SB 40 to SB 57, as the younger generation aged into the older generation — Brady and Peyton Manning in particular.
However, let’s not wrongly conclude that older QBs dominate the Super Bowl landscape. Strangely enough, there have been as many instances of two twentysomething QBs competing (12) as there have been thirtysomething QBs. It’s far more common for someone in their 20s to face someone in their 30s (or more recently, thanks to Brady, 40s).
What should bettors know? Read on.
Actionable Intelligence for Super Bowl Bettors
We can cull some fascinating findings from these results — actionable intelligence that might help inform probabilities of future outcomes between QBs battling in the Super Bowl. Here are some takeaways, applying data from all Super Bowls beginning with the first Super Bowl.
Do Older Super Bowl QBs Have an Advantage?
Out of 56 Super Bowls, the older starting quarterback has prevailed 28 times. You probably don’t need a calculator to know that’s 50%. Should this frustrate bettors? Not at all. Data is useful whether it leads us to act — or leads us not to act.
But as always, I want to dig deeper. Let’s toss out the 12 games featuring two QBs in their 20s and also the 12 games featuring two QBs in their 30s. Instead, we’ll wade through the results of a twentysomething QB competing against a 30-plus-year-old QB.
In 16 of those 33 other cases (48%) — for example, the 30-year-old Peyton Manning versus the 26-year-old Rex Grossman in Super Bowl 41 — the older quarterback’s team has won. That means in the other 17 cases (52%), the younger quarterback’s team has won.
We’re getting warmer, but still not warm enough.
On the 18 occasions when two opposing QBs have made their debuts as Super Bowl starters, the older quarterback has prevailed 11 times (61%).
MORE: Super Bowl Betting History — Lines, Spreads, Results, and Trends
I like this last stat not just because it’s more actionable but because it weeds out guys like Brady and Manning, whose late-career successes somewhat skew the overall results. For example, the older QB has won six of the last eight Super Bowls heading into SB 57. Brady won four of them. So . . . yeah, we don’t want to overemphasize age when the bigger story is Brady’s unprecedented staying power.
Since we’re on the subject, there are other seemingly Brady-influenced trends, but they still hold water even if we remove him from the equation. For example, how often has a past Super Bowl-winning starting quarterback defeated a first-time Super Bowl starting QB? In case you’re wondering, this scenario has occurred 19 times. The past winner has prevailed 13 times (68%). Brady is 5-2 in such games (71%). In other words, it’s been a high likelihood even in Super Bowls not featuring Brady.
What does this have to do with age? Well, in these 19 occurrences, the younger QB has won 10 times (53%). If we remove Brady from the data set, focusing instead on the 12 non-Brady occurrences, we’re left with the younger QB winning only five times (42%).
It’s also worth noting that the last Super Bowl featuring two 30-plus-year-old QBs — neither of whom was Brady — was all the way back in Super Bowl 44 between Drew Brees and Peyton Manning. The time before that? Brad Johnson versus Rich Gannon in Super Bowl 37.
Given the incredible talent of today’s twentysomething QBs, the post-Brady era might usher in a prolonged period of youthful quarterbacks vying for championships, not unlike a half-century ago when a 29-year-old Roger Staubach vanquished the 26-year-old Bob Griese in Super Bowl 6. That event opened the door to 10 straight Super Bowls where nine runner-ups were 32+ years old, and nine winners were 31 or younger. Most of the competitors on both sides of the ledger had been in the big game before.
And that’s the key for bettors. We can assess slight age-related and experienced-related advantages. There are no “smashes” in these betting calculations. But if we pay attention in the coming years, we might observe sustained trends that are even more actionable.