Professional Handicapper With 42-16 ATS Record Calls Broncos A Lock

Joe Gavazzi

Friday, February 5, 2016 7:00 PM UTC

Friday, Feb. 5, 2016 7:00 PM UTC

The Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers square off at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA. The game will kick off at 6:30 eastern. Let's review the NFL odds for the biggest game of the year.

Hundreds Of Proposition Wagers Available At SBR's Super Bowl 50 Betting Guide

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NFL Pick: Broncos +6
Best Line Offered: at Bovada


Look for partly cloudy skies and the temperature in the 60’s on a grass field. This is the home field of the San Francisco 49ers, which has from time to time been criticized as being a “slow surface”. For today, however, the field should be in excellent condition and will not play into the outcome of the game. 


Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers are in the midst of a dream run. Starting shortly after the second half of last season, the Panthers are on a 21-2 SU streak. It is worth noting that in this run, they have only faced seven teams who are .500 or better. Thus, the SOS (strength of schedule) is a bit of a question. It can be argued that the Panthers have played their best football in their two playoff wins to date. On Sunday January 17th, the Panthers bolted to a 31-0 lead over the Seattle Seahawks. They then put it in to “cruise control” and survived the Seahawks’ second half surge, with a 31-24 victory. Two weeks ago, the Panthers were once again in control early.

This time, in pressing to catch up, the Arizona Cardinals committed a whopping seven turnovers. That boosted the Carolina playoff turnover margin to +8, and increased their NFL best net TO margin to +28. Clearly it is a key reason for their success, as any team with a +2 or more net turnover margin in a game has a nearly 80% chance to cover, and any team with a +3 or more net TO margin in a game has a greater than 90% chance to beat the point spread. The credit, however, should be given to the fact that the Panthers use a strong ground game to force their opponents into catch up mode through the air. In the Seattle game, the Panthers outrushed Seattle 41/144 to 12/78. Against Arizona, the numbers were 37/152 to 16/60. Reviewing our running statistics for the year shows that any team who outrushes their opponent by 30 or more yards in a game will cover 75% of the time. Furthermore, any team who runs the ball 30 or more time in a game, while their opponent does not, has an over 85% chance to cover the game.

As a corollary of that, any team who runs the ball 22 or less times in a game, while their opponent does not, is an over 85% ATS play against. With all three of those events occurring in each of the Panthers’ last two playoff games, it is little wonder they have outscored the opposition by a combined 80-39. This is not unusual for the Panthers, as behind QB Newton they author an outstanding ground game, which outrushes the opposition 34/143 to 22/86. It was a main reason why they outscored the opposition by an average of 32-19 per game. If there is a negative to the Carolina success, it would be that after establishing early leads in games they often play conservatively, allowing the opponent to crawl back into the fray. Against the #1 rated Denver Broncos defense, it is not a given that Carolina will bolt to an early lead. 


Denver Broncos
It is that #1 ranked defense of the Broncos that figures to keep them competitive in this game. For the year, they have allowed just 18 PPG, 292 YPG, just 81/3.3 overland (to slow the way in which Carolina establishes their early dominance), and an amazing 4.7 defensive yards per play. After missing a series of games late in the season, QB Manning has returned in better health, having recovered nearly fully from plantar fasciitis, neck, back, and hip injuries. If he is physically able to play the entire game, his mental acuity can offset the physical advantage of his counterpart, Cam Newton. Manning did throw 17 INTs this season, but none since he returned in the playoffs.

The Broncos’ two victories in January were far more workman like than those of the Panthers. Denver ground out victories vs first Pittsburgh, outrushing the Steelers 33/109 to 19/85 (there are those running carries again). The next week it was a similar outcome. Denver outrushed New England 30/99 to 17/44. The ensuing +1 net turnover margin in each game solidified victories in which they were notably out passed. Should the Broncos win today, it will most probably be by a narrow margin. Denver won 11 games by 7 or less points, and recorded three victories after trailing by 14 points. 


Betting Analysis
The “eye test” clearly favors the Panthers in this game. It has been said that early money has favored the Panthers more than any other Super Bowl in history, with reports of 70-80% of the wagers flowing to the Panthers. This has driven the betting line from 4 to 6 points (though crossing a “dead number” of -5 is of less significance than other 2 point moves). The public is clearly enamored with the strong first halves that the Panthers have authored, while noting that the offense of the Broncos has been significantly less dynamic.

But the results of those games significantly favor a contrary wager on the Broncos. In NFL playoff action, teams who scored 40 or more points in the previous game have failed to cover an ensuing playoff game 14 straight times in the last 20 years. In addition, Super Bowl teams with the superior defense, like Denver, have captured 40 of 49 Super Bowls. Noting the Broncos straight up home dog victory against New England, we see that in the last 14 years, that is a momentum building win, which has spawned 8 consecutive covers. And if you’re looking for intangible motivation, consider that it was just two short years ago when the Broncos were in the Super Bowl, losing to Seattle 43-8, in one of the biggest post season debacles in recent years. 

With technical factors pointing to the Broncos, let’s review the previous 49 Super Bowls. The line has come in to play in only seven of those games, meaning the team who won the game got the ATS victory 84% of the time. Considering games with a competitive price range of P to -6, we note that there have been 26 of 49 Super Bowls with that impost. In 25 of those 26 games (where the opening line was 6 or less), the team who won the game also got the money. Eleven times, it was the underdog. This is not shocking, considering that in the NFL regular season in game where the opening line was 6 or less, the team who won the game beat the spread 91% of the time (161/183). This is “right on” the long term record for such a statistic. 

Opinion from this bureau is that the Denver Broncos are the value side in this game. The above statistics indicate that if you are going to wager on the Broncos, you may choose to place part of your wager on the money line where you can return twice your investment. My final rating on this game will be released on Super Bowl Sunday after 11:00 AM eastern time. Note that if it is a rating of 4% or higher, such NFL side selections from this bureau were 42-16 ATS this season, including 5-1 ATS (83%) in the 2016 January NFL playoffs. I invite you to put the NFL odds in your favor and join me in my Super Bowl Pick on the Denver Broncos.

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