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Super Bowl Scores

Number and Operations
Location: Unknown

This activity focuses on analyzing the scores for football games.  Students study combinations of numbers to produce possible scores for football games.

A final score reported for a sporting event may not say much about the game itself. Pose the following question to students:

If a final score in football is 20-14, how were the points scored?

This question is not intended to focus on the plays used to score but rather on the different ways that a total of 20 points (or 14 points) might be earned.

872 scoreboard

Other questions to ask the students include:

  • Is it possible that the team scoring 20 points scored four touchdowns?
  • Might they have scored two touchdowns?
  • If so, how could their other points have been earned?

Distribute a copy of the Super Bowl Scores Activity Sheet to each student.

pdficon  Super Bowl Scores Activity Sheet 

Discuss with the class the fact that for a football team to have a certain number of points, only certain combinations of scores can be made. For example, for a teach to have 5 points, they would have to have made one field goal and one safety.

Some students may need to be told the meaning of a safety and have a brief review of the way football is scored.

Encourage the students to explore and develop as many possibilities as they can generate. The "bar-numberline" approach suggested on the activity sheet can be use to help them explore possibilities.

You might consider using other manipulatives to represent points.


Ask students to describe the different combinations of gains that a team can use to make a first down in four downs.

For example, they can make the first down in one play, or they can make 9 yards in one play and 1 yard in the second, or they can make 8 yards in one play and 2 yards in the second, and so forth.

You may want to discuss the possibility of losses, penalties, and nonintegral gains.

Number and Operations

Get the Picture—Get the Story

In the following lesson, students act as reporters at the Super Bowl. Students study four pictures of things that they would typically find at a football game: players, a scoreboard, a crowd, and a concession stand. Students are asked to create problem situations that correspond to their interpretation of each of the pictures.
Number and Operations

Super Bowl Scavenger Hunt

In many homes, the Super Bowl is an event of some significance. This activity is designed to have students examine some enjoyable (and, sometimes, obscure) questions using mathematics during the game. The questions on the activity sheet require that the students make observations about the game.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Determine mathematical combinations
  • Develop the concept of multiples and combinations of multiples