2017 Super Bowl: Ranking all 50 Super Bowls from worst to first

The one thing you realize pretty quickly when you start ranking Super Bowls is that people watching football in recent years have been really blessed. There have been a few stinkers, but we've gotten some incredible Super Bowls over the past 20 years.

In fact, I assumed it might be my modern bias pushing them up this list, but the reality is the way the game is played, both with parity and with modern passing attacks, we end up getting exciting games. Comebacks feel more likely and, with some exceptions, no lead is safe. There were plenty of rousing come-from-behind victories in the older days, but teams just couldn't put up points as frequently as they can now.

More good news for the 2017 Super Bowl: the Patriots have been involved in a LOT of the drama high on this list, which could mean some serious action when it comes to the Patriots-Falcons matchup in Super Bowl LI.

Without ado, onto the list. You might love it, you might hate it -- if you have questions or complaints holler at me on Twitter @WillBrinson.

50. Super Bowl XXIX

San Francisco 49ers 49, San Diego Chargers 26

Steve Young threw six touchdown passes and the Niners nearly hung a 50 burger in a Super Bowl, demolishing the Chargers in a game that didn't even feel this close.

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Jerry Rice and the 49ers smoked the Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX. Getty Images

49. Super Bowl XLVIII

Seattle Seahawks 43, Denver Broncos 8

Start to finish the Seahawks defense absolutely dominated Peyton Manning and the favored Broncos' historic offense. An absolute bludgeoning that no one saw coming.

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Russell Wilson and the Seahawks dominated Peyton Manning's Broncos in New Jersey. USATSI

48. Super Bowl XXIV

San Francisco 49ers 55, Denver Broncos 10

An absolute blasting that was out of hand by halftime (27-3) as an utterly dominant Niners squad that was loaded on both sides of the ball just beat up on an overmatched Broncos team. Dominance is fun but not when you want an epic game. The Broncos were actually the top defensive team in football here.

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Jerry Rice burning defenses in the Super Bowl is a recurring theme. Getty Images

47. Super Bowl XXXV

Baltimore Ravens 34, New York Giants 7

The Giants had the tables turned on them after demolishing the Vikings 41-0 in the NFC Championship Game, getting completely snuffed out by the Ravens in the title game. I always think about the alleged $20,000 preseason bet Phil Mickelson put on the Ravens to win it all when I think of this game.


46. Super Bowl XXXVII

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48, Oakland Raiders 21

The Jon Gruden Bowl sent the Raiders spiraling (they wouldn't return to the playoffs until 2016!) following a devastating blowout. The Bucs' defense suffocated the powerful Raiders offense. It's not fair that Rich Gannon and that offense is remembered by this game. They were incredible.

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Jon Gruden gets the last laugh in Super Bowl XXXVII. Getty Images

45. Super Bowl XXII

Washington Redskins 42, Denver Broncos 10

Doug Williams became the first African-American quarterback to start, and after trailing 10-0 in the first quarter, the Redskins responded with an absurd 42 unanswered points, 35 in the second quarter. This was not a thriller in the second half.

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Timmy Smith ran wild against the Broncos. USATSI

44. Super Bowl XXVII

Dallas Cowboys 52, Buffalo Bills 17

This game should have been 59-17 except for Don Beebe chasing down Leon Lett late in the game to stop the Cowboys from scoring again. Otherwise it was a depantsing that featured Jim Kelly getting hurt (Frank Reich replaced him) and Troy Aikman going 22 for 30 for 273 yards and four touchdown passes to kick start the Cowboys dynasty of the '90s.

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A dynasty is born at the Rose Bowl as the Cowboys whip the Bills. Getty Images

43. Super Bowl IV

Kansas City Chiefs 23, Minnesota Vikings 7

Hank Stram's Chiefs handled the Vikings, snuffing out the rushing attack in a game with pretty sloppy weather. Friendly reminder that Len Dawson is amazing.

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Len Dawson and the Chiefs take down the Purple People Eaters in New Orleans. Getty Images

42. Super Bowl VIII

Miami Dolphins 24, Minnesota Vikings 7

Bob Griese completed over 85 percent of his passes in this game, completing six of his seven attempts. The Dolphins fed Larry Csonka the ball 33 times for 145 yards and led 24-0 going into the fourth quarter.


41. Super Bowl XII

Dallas Cowboys 27, Denver Broncos 10

The Broncos were never really any closer than 10 points in this game and Craig Morton's 4-for-15, 39-yard, four-interception performance kind of summed up Denver's effort.


40. Super Bowl I

Green Bay Packers 35, Kansas City Chiefs 10

Bart Starr completed 16 of 23 passes for 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and the combo of Zeke Bratkowski/Jim Taylor rushed for another three scores in a game that was never close. But it did start a delightful tradition.

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Bart Starr and the Packers blow out the Chiefs in the first Super Bowl. USATSI

39. Super Bowl XXVI

Washington Redskins 37, Buffalo Bills 24

The Bills closed this game to a two-score affair, but the Redskins were blasting them 24-0 in the third quarter and 37-10 in the fourth. Fun fact: Millions of children demanded their parents change the channel during halftime from CBS to Fox to watch Jim Carrey appear as Fire Marshall Bill on a halftime version of "In Living Color."


38. Super Bowl XV

Oakland Raiders 27, Philadelphia Eagles 10

The Raiders led 14-3 at half and a trio of Ron Jaworski interceptions were too much for Philadelphia to overcome, especially with Jim Plunkett tossing three touchdowns for an MVP-caliber game.

The Raiders win their second Super Bowl title in New Orleans. Getty Images

37. Super Bowl XXXII

Denver Broncos 34, Atlanta Falcons 19

Somehow Chris Chandler wasn't able to stop John Elway from winning his final game as a pro? You don't say. The world was robbed of seeing the Vikings and Broncos square off. The Falcons should be much better this time around.

The Falcons were no match for Terrell Davis and the Broncos in Miami. Getty Images

36. Super Bowl XXI

New York Giants 39, Denver Broncos 20

John Elway and the Broncos would take a 10-7 lead into the second quarter, but the Giants ripped off 26 unanswered points behind Phil Simms, who lit up the Broncos for 268 yards and three touchdowns before promptly coining the "I'm going to Disney World!" phrase.

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John Elway was outmanned against a loaded Giants defense. USATSI

35. Super Bowl XVIII

Los Angeles Raiders 38, Washington Redskins 9

Two defensive touchdowns in the first half and a pair of Marcus Allen touchdown runs in the second half snuffed out the 16-win Redskins and Joe Theismann. Hey, Los Angeles can win a Super Bowl! This would be the last AFC title until the 1997 season.

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Marcus Allen spins the Redskins in circles in Tampa. USATSI

34. Super Bowl VI

Dallas Cowboys 24, Miami Dolphins 3

Tom Landry's Cowboys blistered Miami in this one, which is wild because the Dolphins were one season away from going undefeated. Miami managed one second-quarter field goal, while Dallas rumbled for 252 rushing yards.

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Roger Staubach and the Cowboys get their first Super Bowl victory. USATSI

33. Super Bowl XIX

San Francisco 49ers 38, Miami Dolphins 16

Dan Marino threw for more than 5,000 yards in 1984, his second season. He was supposed to end up with so many more chances to win the Super Bowl and he never returned.

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Bill Walsh leads the 49ers over Dan Marino and the Dolphins. Getty Images

32. Super Bowl XI

Oakland Raiders 32, Minnesota Vikings 14

A total of 17 Hall of Fame players or coaches were involved in this showdown, but John Madden's Raiders easily waltzed away from Bud Grant's Vikings.


31. Super Bowl IX

Pittsburgh Steelers 16, Minnesota Vikings 6

This was a "Your defense is offensive game" with a halftime score of 2-0. Two! Terry Bradshaw and Fran Tarkenton combined for 198 yards on 40 attempts, but the Steelers still won the franchise's first Super Bowl.

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Franco Harris helps lead the Steelers to their first Super Bowl title. USATSI

30. Super Bowl II

Green Bay Packers 33, Oakland Raiders 14

Vince Lombardi left as the Packers coach a winner, walking away with a victory over the Raiders in this Super Bowl. Well, technically he was carried away by his team, but you get the point. A dominant Packers victory.

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Vince Lombardi leads the Packers to their second straight Super Bowl win. USATSI

29. Super Bowl XX

Chicago Bears 46, New England Patriots 10

The Pats scored first, registering a field goal, and then didn't put up any more points until it was 44-3 in the fourth quarter. That's what happens when you run into arguably the greatest defense of all time. When William "Refrigerator" Perry is scoring touchdowns, you know it's a blowout.

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Buddy Ryan's ferocious Bears defense maul the Patriots in New Orleans. USATSI

28. Super Bowl V

Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13

Known as the "Blunder Bowl," this matchup featured 11 turnovers and a player on the losing team (Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley) winning the Super Bowl MVP. Oddly enough that sounds like an awesome time.

The Colts come up winners at the Orange Bowl two years after losing to the Jets. Getty Images

27. Super Bowl XXVIII

Dallas Cowboys 30, Buffalo Bills 13

The Bills, in their fourth straight appearance in a Super Bowl, led by seven points at halftime, so naturally Thurman Thomas immediately fumbled the ball in the third quarter, with James Washington scooping and scoring. The Bills wouldn't score in the second half. Oof.


26. Super Bowl 50

Denver Broncos 24, Carolina Panthers 10

The legacy game for Cam Newton that never happened thanks to the Broncos defense destroying him. The Panthers were a one-loss team that looked sloppy on the big stage and got smoked by Von Miller and company, who let Peyton Manning ride off into the sunset with a second Super Bowl ring. Newton is more remembered for a business decision and a juvenile press conference.

DeMarcus Ware and the Broncos put the hurt on Cam Newton. USATSI

25. Super Bowl XLI

Indianapolis Colts 29, Chicago Bears 17

Take away the Devin Hester kickoff return to open the game and this turns into a real ugly blowout. That's what happens when you take horrible weather and pit Peyton Manning against Rex Grossman.

Peyton Manning claims his first Super Bowl win in Miami. Getty Images

24. Super Bowl VII

Miami Dolphins 14, Washington Redskins 7

Don Shula and Miami wrapped up the only undefeated season in NFL history. You might have heard but they like to drink champagne sometimes. Pretty wild that an undefeated team was basically a pick 'em in this game at the books. Vegas was a little off on this one -- the Redskins didn't find the end zone until the fourth quarter on a fumble return after a botched field goal. Larry Csonka carried the ball 15 times for 112 yards.

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Bob Griese leads the Dolphins to a perfect season with a win over the Redskins. USATSI

23. Super Bowl XL

Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Seattle Seahawks 10

Marred by horrific officiating that still draws the ire of Seahawks fans to this day (wouldn't want to bring this game up to Matt Hasselbeck), this was an ugly game with some fun plays (hello Antwan Randle-El). Did anyone know Jerome Bettis was from Detroit?

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Bill Cowher became a Super Bowl champ by winning the Steelers' one for the thumb. USATSI

22. Super Bowl XVII

Washington Redskins 27, Miami Dolphins 17

This season is best remembered for a kicker (Mark Moseley) winning the MVP, so it should probably be eradicated from history. Still, the Redskins dominating down the stretch, coming back from down 17-10 to shut out the Dolphins in the second half, is an impressive feat.

The Redskins give it to the The Diesel to run over the Dolphins. USATSI

21. Super Bowl XVI

San Francisco 49ers 26, Cincinnati Bengals 21

This game is a reminder that even the greats don't always play great in huge games. Joe Montana is undefeated in Super Bowls but he went just 14 of 22 for 157 yards and a score here. But you couple this win with The Catch and there's a lot of lore to build on.

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The 49ers come up with one of the biggest goal-line stands in NFL history to hold off the Bengals. Getty Images

20. Super Bowl X

Pittsburgh Steelers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17

The Steel Curtain locked down Roger Staubach in the second half, only allowing seven points to the Cowboys after the break, and Terry Bradshaw/Lynn Swann teamed up for some gorgeous deep balls to mount an epic comeback.


19. Super Bowl XXXI

Green Bay Packers 34, New England Patriots 21

The Patriots and Drew Bledsoe had closed the game to 27-21 in the third quarter when Desmond Howard ripped off an electric 99-yard touchdown on the kickoff return that snuffed out the comeback. This Packers team was stacked on both sides of the ball and the stars (Brett Favre, three total touchdowns, and Reggie White, three sacks) produced.

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Super Bowl MVP Desmond Howard bolts 99 yards for a touchdown. Getty Images

18. Super Bowl XXXIX

New England Patriots 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21

The score makes this look a little closer than it was, with the most memorable things for the Eagles coming when Donovan McNabb puked his guts up in the huddle and Terrell Owens playing like a man possessed despite coming off a broken leg. After this game it felt like the Patriots would win 10 straight Super Bowls.

Donovan McNabb and the Eagles fall short as the Patriots win their third title in four seasons. Getty Images

17. Super Bowl XXX

Dallas Cowboys 27, Pittsburgh Steelers 17

An epic comeback by the Steelers, featuring an onside kick and a Bam Morris touchdown run, fell short thanks to the second interception of the game for Super Bowl MVP Larry Brown, who almost returned both picks to the house. Jerry Jones has since claimed he made a deal with The Big Guy to never win a Super Bowl if Barry Switzer and Co. won this one. So, maybe want to remember that moving forward.

The Cowboys finally beat the Steelers in a Super Bowl. Getty Images

16. Super Bowl XLVI

New York Giants 21, New England Patriots 17

Revenge wasn't on the menu this time around, with Eli Manning and the Giants front four pulling off the upset once again. The only difference this time was Mario Manningham making the miraculous catch.

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Eli Manning gets the best of Tom Brady and the Pats again. USATSI

15. Super Bowl XLV

Green Bay Packers 31, Pittsburgh Steelers 25

An absolute shootout between two guys -- Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger -- operating at the peak of their primes. Rodgers shook the absurd "playoff struggles" narrative with the Packers' run as a wild card and hit Greg Jennings on an all-time throw to convert a third down late (2:43 here) to help salt the game away.


14. Super Bowl XLIV

New Orleans Saints 31, Indianapolis Colts 17

This game ended up as a two-score win for Drew Brees and Co., but it was a lot closer. Tracy Porter's late pick-six of Peyton Manning ran up the score. Sean Payton onside kicking to start the second half is one of the biggest onion hangs in Super Bowl history.

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Tracey Porter picks off Peyton Manning to deliver a title to the Big Easy. USATSI

13. Super Bowl XLVII

Baltimore Ravens 34, San Francisco 49ers 31

An oddly thrilling game in the Superdome featuring a terrifying power outage, two brothers coaching against one another (the Harbaughs) and a compelling comeback by the 49ers that fell just short when Colin Kaepernick couldn't hit Michael Crabtree on a late fourth down.

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Ed Reed and Ray Lewis celebrate in New Orleans as John Harbaugh wins the Harbaugh Bowl. USATSI

12. Super Bowl XXXII

Denver Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24

An epic showdown between two Hall of Fame quarterbacks in John Elway (seeking his first Super Bowl win) and Brett Favre (coming off his first Super Bowl win). The Broncos finally shook off a Super Bowl losing streak thanks to Elway helicoptering for a first down late and setting up a Terrell Davis touchdown.

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With Super Bowl MVP Terrell Davis leading the way, the Broncos finally come out on top. USATSI

11. Super Bowl XIV

Pittsburgh Steelers 31, Los Angeles Rams 19

Terry Bradshaw won the Super Bowl MVP award despite throwing three interceptions, largely because of his clutch fourth-quarter play that resulted in a pair of Steelers touchdowns that were the difference in a close game. The first one was a beautiful bullet deep, a 73-yard strike from Bradshaw to give the Steelers their fourth Super Bowl victory in six years.

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The Steelers win a thriller at the Rose Bowl against the Rams. USATSI

10. Super Bowl XXXVI

New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17

The title that kicked off the Patriots dynasty and a very similar victory to the Giants beating the Pats twice. The Patriots defense suffocated the Greatest Show on Turf, and the Rams still probably feel like Spygate robbed them of a title. Tom Brady and Bill Belichick started building their legacy here. The entire game felt like being punched in the gut with the way the Rams powerful offense was completely stifled. It was incomprehensible.

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The underdog Patriots pull off a huge upset of the Rams in New Orleans. Sylvia Allen, NFL

9. Super Bowl XXXVIII

New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29

This was a brutal game for Panthers fans, who watched Jake Delhomme create some playground magic and Steve Smith absolutely dominate, only to have John Kasay send a late kickoff out of bounds to set up a Tom Brady drive and an Adam Vinatieri field goal. Fun fact: I watched one of my roommates slap another roommate when the second guy started cheering for the Pats late in this one.


8. Super Bowl XLIII

Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23

Tons of epic plays in this game, from James Harrison's wild interception touchdown return in the first half to the epic Ben Roethlisberger touchdown throw to Santonio Holmes in the end zone for the win. If you want to talk about greatest catches of all time, that one deserves consideration as much as the Tyree catch.

Look how little room he had back there. An all-time postseason by Larry Fitzgerald really went to waste here.

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Santonio Holmes stuns the Cardinals with his amazing grab. USATSI

7. Super Bowl III

New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7

A pure homage to Joe Namath guaranteeing a victory and the ability of this Jets win to spark the NFL-AFL merger thanks to the AFL's first victory in the matchup. The Jets only managed a single touchdown in this game but it was enough to topple an aging Johnny Unitas and the Colts.

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Joe Namath's guarantee is the stuff of legends. Getty Images

6. Super Bowl XXXIV

St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16

The beginning of the Greatest Show on Turf culminated in Kurt Warner winning a Super Bowl MVP by throwing for more than 400 yards. It looked like the Titans would score and tie things up, but Kevin Dyson was stopped, almost frozen in time with his hand reaching out to the end zone. The world was 1 Yard Short from Jeff Fisher possibly winning a Super Bowl.

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Kevin Dyson and the Titans come up 1 yard short. Getty Images

5. Super Bowl XXIII

San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16

Friend of the program Jim Breech banged home a trio of field goals (34, 43 and 40 yards) but it wasn't enough for the Bengals to keep pace with the 49ers and Jerry Rice, who finished with 215 yards on 11 catches. Mercy. An unbelievable drive by Joe Montana against a Dick LeBeau defense to close this one out.

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Joe Montana leads the 49ers to an epic win over the Bengals in Miami. USATSI

4. Super Bowl XXV

New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19

An incredible game between two great teams went back and forth, with the game ultimately coming down to Scott Norwood's foot -- the Bills kicker attempted the longest grass kick of his career (47 yards) and pushed it wide right.

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Scott Norwood shanks the kick wide right, keeping the Bills from a Super Bowl title. Getty Images

3. Super Bowl XIII

Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31

Watch the highlights of this game and realize it's exactly what we want with the Falcons and Patriots this year. Two really talented offensive teams lobbing up a ton of points with two great quarterbacks. Roger Staubach and Terry Bradshaw combined for seven touchdowns in this one.

Franco Harris carries the ball against the Cowboys during Super Bowl XIII at the Orange Bowl. Getty Images

2. Super Bowl XLII

New York Giants 17, New England Patriots 14

The undefeated Patriots strolled into this game as massive favorites, until the Giants provided the formula to beat Tom Brady: pressure with a four-man front. There are more technically proficient and athletic catch-and-throws than The Helmet Catch, but there aren't many that are more miraculous and on a bigger stage. It was a mini-Hail Mary with Eli Manning scrambling to avoid pressure followed by David Tyree pinning the ball to his helmet as he fell to the ground. The stuff of legends.

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David Tyree's helmet grab helps send the Patriots to 18-1. Getty Images

1. Super Bowl XLIX

New England Patriots 28, Seattle Seahawks 24

This game had everything. There was controversy coming in (Deflategate had just begun) and it was a battle of the two best teams in football. The defending champion Seahawks came out gunning, the Patriots responded and took over the game and then Russell Wilson and Seattle tried to steal it back with one of the wildest catches by Jermaine Kearse you will ever see.

Malcolm Butler promptly took it right back with arguably the greatest defensive play in Super Bowl history.

Malcolm Butler rescues the Pats and sinks the Seahawks. USATSI
CBS Sports Senior Writer

Will Brinson joined CBS Sports in 2010 and enters his seventh season covering the NFL for CBS. He previously wrote for FanHouse along with myriad other Internet sites. A North Carolina native who lives... Full Bio

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