The Carolina Panthers are the hottest betting team right now, The Denver Broncos clearly come as the underdog team, really?. Let's take one final look at Super Bowl 50 odds.
Carolina Panthers vs. Denver Broncos
This is an impossible Super Bowl when it comes to betting the side at the current pointspread. If the line ever got to Carolina -7, I’d make a bet on Denver. At -4 or lower – where this line opened for a few hours after the conference championship games – I’d recommend a play on the Panthers. But with the line bouncing around between -5.5 and -6, any side bet is no better than a coin flip in my opinion. I’m not offering a Super Bowl side opinion for my clients because I don’t have one.
However, I can make strong cases for betting against both teams! Here’s the case against Carolina. Super Bowl favorites have been a terrible bet in recent seasons. Only one favorite has covered in the last seven Super Bowls, and even that favorite wasn’t a ‘right side’ – Green Bay’s tight six point win over Pittsburgh, a game that turned on a fourth quarter fumble from Rashard Mendenhall. Laying points against elite, Super Bowl caliber teams simply isn’t a positive expectation wager in the modern era.
And betting against teams of Denver’s caliber defensively in this pointspread range has been a disaster. Over the last ten years, teams ranked in the Top 3 defensively in the NFL have played 529 games. Only 66 of those games were losses by more than a TD. 87.5% of the time, the elite defensive teams win or lose by a TD or less.
Three weeks ago, the NFC was in a pick ‘em range in the Super Bowl against the AFC. After Denver beat New England on Championship Sunday, the lookahead line for a Panthers- Broncos Super Bowl was -2.5 or -3. The Panthers have most assuredly been an undervalued commodity all season, but they’re most assuredly not undervalued for this game! And Denver has lost only one game by more than a TD all year – the game where an obviously injured Peyton Manning threw four interceptions against KC and subsequently sat out the next two months.
But Carolina is better than Denver. I know that; you know that – anyone who’s been watching these games knows that. The Broncos are here only because their opponents played poorly, not because Denver played well. The Pats looked completely lost in the AFC Championship Game, as bad as game as New England played all year, just out of sync, particularly on the offensive line.
The Panthers offensive line was (and is) arguably the best OL in the NFL this year, poised to match up much better against the Broncos than the Pats OL did. Denver’s Divisional Round win over Pittsburgh was similar – a decent Broncos team taking advantage of an injury riddled foe at home; not a great Broncos team dominating from start to finish.
And while I thought this line might fly all the way to -7, it’s pretty clear as I write this on Wednesday that we’re not going to see the pointspread get that high at the vast majority of sportsbooks. Carolina might be the ‘public’ side here, but there’s ample support for the Broncos in the marketplace at current numbers – this line isn’t going to run up any higher.
And if the Broncos fall behind, they’re in real trouble – Manning had one completion of longer than seven yards in the second half against the Patriots; not a team built to rally from significant deficits. The Broncos elite defense has some key injuries in the secondary. They haven’t left the friendly confines of Denver since before Christmas, and that last road game wasn’t pretty, allowing the Steelers to rally from behind and hang 34 on this stop unit.
Cam Newton is a proven winner in big games, dating back to a JUCO national title and a ‘real’ national title with Auburn. Peyton Manning has come up short again and again in his biggest games, again, dating back to his days at Tennessee and continuing throughout his NFL career. Manning has been the best QB in football for the last 15 years, but he’s only got one ring to show for it. Even that ring comes with an asterisk – the opposing QB in the Super Bowl was Rex Grossman, who’s fourth quarter pick six was the difference maker. In this pointspread range, I’m simply not willing to fade the superior team with the superior quarterback.
Sharp bettors don’t force action just to have action. There are a good handful of prop bets that stand out to me as being worthy of a wager, and I do lean towards the Over on Super Bowl Sunday. But from a side perspective, I cannot and will not be forced into making a coin flip type wager just because it’s the only game on TV on Sunday Night…….
Recommendation: Take a Big Fat PASS